Difference between Competence and Competency (Explained with Diagram)

Difference between Competence and Competency!

Often a question is asked: Are competence and competency the same or different? Some dictionaries have represented the two interchangeably, i.e. meaning the same. However, the meanings of competence and competency are not the same, but they mean two different meanings.

The difference between the two has been shown in the following Table 11.1:


Table 11.1: Difference between Competence and Competency:

Competence Competency
1. Skill-based Behaviour-based
2. Standard attained Manner of behaviour
3. What is measured How the standard is achieved.

It becomes clear from above Table 11.1 that competence describes what people can do while competency focuses on how they do it. In other words, the former means a skill and the standard of performance reached, while the latter refers to the behaviour by which it is achieved.


It implies that there is an interface between the two, i.e. the competent application of a skill is likely to make one act in a competent manner and vice versa. The difference between competence and competency can be better understood by knowing and understanding their components.

Research has established that these consist of three components:

1. Knowledge

2. Skill


3. Motive

These are explained with the help of the driving test analogy:

1. Knowledge:

In simple terms, knowledge means collection and retention of information in one’s mind. Knowledge is necessary for performing a task but not sufficient. For example, a person by reading understands the meaning of driving a car. The person can describe how to drive a car. But, mere description will not enable the listener to drive a car unless something more than knowledge is there.

That is precisely the reason we see in real life that people, or say, entrepreneurs possessing merely the entrepreneurial knowledge have miserably failed while actually performing the task. What this suggests is that one also needs to have skills to use or translate the knowledge into action or practice.

2. Skill:

Skill is the ability to demonstrate a system and sequence of behaviour which results in something observable, something that one can see. A person with planning ability, i.e., skill can properly identify the sequence of action to be performed to drive the car.

Nonetheless, while knowledge of driving a car could be acquired by reading, talking or so on, skill to actually drive a car can be acquired by practice i.e., driving car on a number of times. This means both knowledge and skill are required to perform a task like driving a car.

3. Motive:

In simple terms, motive is an urge to achieve one’s goal what McClelland terms ‘Achievement Motivation’. This continuous concern of goal achievement directs a person to perform better and better. Coming back to the same example of driving a car, one’s urge to drive car in the best manner helps him constantly practice driving car.

Thus, in order to perform a task like establishing and running an industrial unit effectively and successfully, a person called entrepreneur needs to possess a set of knowledge, skill and motive which could be together labeled as his / her ‘entrepreneurial competencies.’

Now, an analysis of above meanings and definitions of competencies reveals the following salient characteristics of entrepreneurial competencies:

a. Entrepreneurial competencies are the characteristics of entrepreneurs.

b. Entrepreneurial competencies lead to the demonstration of entrepreneurial skills and abilities.

c. Entrepreneurial competencies must lead to effective and superior performance of entrepreneurs.

That the entrepreneurial competency includes knowledge, skills and motives or attitudes (Linkage 1997) is shown as follows:

Attitude-Want to do an Excellent Job

Knowledge and skill constituents of competency tend to be visible and relatively on the surface characteristics of the people and for that matter, entrepreneurs also. As regards motives or attitudes as constituents of competencies, these are more hidden, ‘deeper’ and central to one’s personality.

What is Competencies?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s