Relationship between Career and Competency: Verification of Theoretical Model Validity


  • Virginija Chreptaviciene Kaunas University of Technology
  • Jovita Starkute Kaunas University of Technology



career planning, competency, levels of competency, career planning model


In a constantly changing environment, a new approach to an organization as a performance system where employee’ss are becoming the most important factor determining the efficiency of organizational performance is developing. However, the ability to attract and retain competent specialists is often a challenge for the organization since it has to recognize the range of factors that motivate each employee’s and serve as incentives for activity. One of such incentives is the possibilities to make a successful career as each person wants to ‘grow in an organization’ literally. Structural changes in the organization, i.e. transition from pyramidal structure through team organization structure to learning organization, which, according to Salopek (2004), Giesecke and McNeil (2004), has the characteristics of experimentation and future vision, have direct impact on employee’s’s career development: the possibilities for vertical career are reduced, it is difficult to anticipate workforce flow in an organization, employee’ss’ individual career do not anchor them in one organization, which increases the importance of competency and the insights into the future career possibilities.

In order to preserve unique skills and competencies, each organization must foresee the possibilities for employee’s’s career. If career is considered to be the process of personal development, authority, power influence, status, prestige, growth, climbing the ladder of hierarchy, qualification and promotion, the significance of career planning in the organization becomes obvious. Successful career planning in the organization, according to Lovelock and Wright (2002), helps to satisfy employee’ss’ needs for training and professional growth; to use employee’ss’ competencies efficiently; to increase employee’ss’ self-reliance; to form an internal reserve of professional growth. Moreover, career planning helps to combine the aims of the organization and an employee’s, to meet the latter’s interests and in such a way to retain competent specialists in an organization. Knowing their perspectives in the organization, employee’ss will try to act more efficiently, i.e. to use their competency and experience while striving for organizational goals. Yet when aiming at the effective usage of every employee’s’s competency in a particular activity, one should know not only the structure of the activity but also its levels and levels of competency respectively (Dreyfus, Dreifus, 1986, Reich (1993), Bowden & Monton (1997, 2003), Jucevičienė, Liepaitė (2000), Vernhout (2005). Chreptavičienė (2009), Chreptavičienė, Starkutė, 2010), on the basis of which career should be planned and developed in the organization.

Scientific literature analysis revealed that the impact of competency level on career as well as its relation to career planning has not been studied yet. Consequently, it allows proposing adequate perspectives to employee’s’s career planning in the organization on the basis of his/her competency levels.

Having analyzed scientific literature, the authors of the article prepared a theoretical-hypothetical model of career planning based on the impact of competency level (see Chreptavičienė & Starkutė, 2010). The Model of Cohesions between Career and Competence. Engineering Economics. No. 21(5), 537-549). In the model, employee’s’s competency level is equated to four stages of career. The employee’s progresses in professional career consistently passing through all the stages, where he/she faces activities and challenges of respective complexity. The employee’s’s ability to perform a certain task/activity (his/her level of competency) is assessed in each stage. Levels of competency distinguished by Bowden and Marton, (1997, 2003) as well as by Jucevičienė and Lepaitė (2000) correlate with four professional career stages identified by Dalton and Thompson (1986), which emphasize the relationship between an individual’s age and his/her position, show how employee’ss move from one stage to another. The movement determines changes in activity, in complexity of performed functions, and simultaneously the need for respective level of competency. Therefore, when conditions change and new activities appear; they require the acting person to apply the possessed competency to the conditions of the new activity or to be able to evaluate personal experience critically and engage in further development. The growth in the level of competency ensures the possibilities for professional career. The career based on the identification of competency levels shows that it is not enough to have only a certain competency; the level of competency and its recognition is important as well.

This research is an attempt to verify the validity of the theoretical-hypothetical career model prepared by the authors of the article. Case study is chosen for this research, i.e. there is one single object in the research – the company that manages shopping malls. The choice was determined by the following two reasons: first, the subject has successfully been realizing employee’s’s career planning; second, case study is the only way to verify a theoretical model (Andrikienė & Anužienė, 2006, Žydžiūnaitė, 2008). To validate the theoretical-hypothetical career planning model, the article presents the methodology to study career planning in the organization and relationships of employee’s’s competencies, research procedure and results.  While applying the methods of written and oral survey, all employee’ss of one organization (managers and subordinates) were surveyed (N=30). The empirical research revealed that career planning in the organization depends on employee’s’s level of competency. Improved professional skills and increased level of competency has influence and is the main factor and guideline for employee’s’s career planning in the organization.

The research findings confirmed the theoretical-hypothetical career model and theoretical conclusions maintaining that career planning in the organization on the basis of employee’s’s competency level is purposeful and relevant.

On the grounds of obtained research results, the article presents a practical model of relationship between career planning and employee’s’s competency (see Fig. 5), which basically does not differ from the theoretical-hypothetical model (see Chreptavičienė, Starkutė, 2010); the practical model is more adapted to the characteristics of the organization being studied.


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