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Measuring Competence – By Samuel Phineas Upham

By Samuel Phineas Upham

In their paper, “Measuring Competence,” authors Rebecca Henderson and Iain Cockburn set out to measure and compare competence using the pharmaceutical R&D area. The authors selected this sector because it is especially meticulous in keeping records and has good proxies to measure, such as drug tests and patent awards. Henderson and Cockburn are unsatisfied by the lack of careful study in this area; they believe that others haven’t been able to properly measure, test, and compare competence. They also believe that if they can’t properly measure competence in this area, it cannot be measured in any field. Therefore the authors have set out to provide an example for the field by producing a very careful experiment. Because of this reason, they spend a lot of time in the paper writing about their specific research and how they came up with their findings.

In the beginning of the essay, Henderson and Cockburn describe some hypothetical scenarios they plan to use in the study. The authors describe the role of competence in differential success. They also present a distinction in their competence analysis. According to the authors, component competence is the everyday type of problem solving skills and architectural competence is a company’s ability to pool and utilize resources to create new abilities. Under both types they use logic and literature to discover what the resultant fall-outs might be. However, they are assuming that it is quantifiable and considered a function of one metric of success.

It is a fair hypothesis, but could competencies also help to distinguish the type of success a company achieves instead of the specific amount? However, Henderson and Cockburn are not considered with these types of considerations. Instead, they are focused on creating one metric of success that each firm has.

According to the authors, competence is a vital variable in success. The authors came upon this conclusion by analyzing differential accomplishment founded on company heterogeny. The findings reveal the need for more tries to examine competence and distinguish between various types of competence. The essay revealed the just how hard good quantified research into competencies on the organization level can be. It then presents a more accurate model and produces noteworthy findings. The paper did lack theory and it was too focused on methodology, but it was interesting to read mainly because it revealed a huge issue with firm level capability research and did a good attempt to fix the problem.

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