Perceptions of Professional Competence in the Context of an Office-Based Workplace


Context-dependent competencies
workplace interactions
interactional analysis


Social Sciences literature has produced various conceptualisations of professional competence, in addition to models and taxonomies for its perception, assessment and acquisition. The need remains for a holistic model that addresses the varied use of this term. My study contributes to the efforts to develop such a model by investigating how office professionals perceive and negotiate the meaning of competence in interaction.

Phase I combines thematic and interactional analyses of individual interview responses to visual stimuli from the sitcom W1A. Phase II combines thematic and interactional analyses of follow-up individual and group interviews with multimodal analysis of the visual stimuli.

Four conceptualisations were present in my sample. Three were context-independent: competence as a level of attainment; competence as a set of characteristics required for an individual to fulfil a role; and competence as a set of characteristics required to fulfil a role, subject to training. The other was a dual construction in which competence denotes a set of characteristics required to fulfil a role and, in respect to a given role, denotes any characteristic required for that role.

I suggest a multifaceted model that constructs professional competence as a level of attainment and defines context-dependent competencies required for ‘competent’ and ‘expert’ practitioners.


To cite this paper please use the following details: Wall, H. (2019), 'Perceptions of Professional Competence in the Context of an Office-Based Workplace', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 12, Issue 1, Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at

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