Higher Education for Business

By Robert Aaron Gordon; James Edwin Howell | Go to book overview

chapter 6
THE ROLE OF EDUCATION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BUSINESS COMPETENCE

PUT IN the briefest possible terms, competence in any field is the product of some combination of education, experience, and personal traits. This is true of any kind of professional competence, including competence in business.

Knowledge is the chief product of education, although it can be acquired in other ways also--for example, through reflective observation and experience. Experience, in addition, develops an ability to apply knowledge previously acquired, in good part by a process not inaccurately described as "feedback." Experience in concrete situations "edits, disciplines, and evaluates knowledge" acquired in other ways -- for example, by formal education--and thus shapes knowledge into particular skills.1

Competence, in business or any other field, depends not only on education and experience but also on the possession of personal traits. These traits can be considered to be of three types: mental, physical, and those concerned with personality. These qualities not only contribute directly to the development of competence but also interact with education and experience. They help to determine the individual's ability to learn from education and experience, and they in turn may be influenced by the latter. Thus education can sharpen analytical ability or help to develop or inhibit particular personality traits.


The Nature of Business Competence

In Chapter 5 we examined the "qualities" which presumably make for business competence. These qualities turned out to be a combination

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1
Cf. David Krech and R. S. Crutchfield, Elements of Psychology ( 1958), p. 450, from which the quoted phrase is taken.

-103-

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