Public Relations Review 36 (2010) 202–205
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Public Relations Review
Identifying competencies for communication practice: A needs
assessment for curriculum development and selection in New Zealand
, Margaret Brunton
Department of Management, Massey University, Private Bag 102 904, North Shore Mail Centre, Auckland 1311, New Zealand
Department of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Private Bag 102 904, North Shore Mail Centre, Auckland 1311, New Zealand
Received 26 September 2009
Received in revised form 14 February 2010
Accepted 17 February 2010
A hierarchical needs assessment model used to identify the competencies required by com-
munication management practitioners in the New Zealand workplace generated three key
ﬁndings. First, there was evidence of a perspective of CM as a distinct discipline founded on
an agreed body of knowledge, skills and values. Second, despite an identiﬁed lack of consen-
sus about required CM competencies in the literature, we found high levels of agreement
between practitioners and academics. Third, there was, however, a signiﬁcant difference in
views between these two groups about the importance of the competency managing client
reputation. As this was rated as one of the two most important competencies by respon-
dents, there are implications for changing the focus of tertiary curricula to ensure graduates
are appropriately prepared for the reality of workplace practice.
© 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
1. Identifying competencies
The clear speciﬁcation of an industry-wide competency framework for communication management (CM) based on
research provides a basis for curricula for tertiary education and training, a job proﬁle for recruiting, and a mechanism for
both evaluating and improving workplace performance. Another major beneﬁt is the establishment of a benchmark against
which current practice can be measured. As Gregory (2008) contended, the explication of the skills and personal attributes
of CM practitioners in the literature is imprecise and not clearly derived from research. This paper reports the results of a
national study to identify the competencies required for effective performance in communication management in the New
Zealand (NZ) workplace.
Competency has at least two dimensions; domain content and cognitive processing capacity, and competency derives
from the interplay between these. This multidimensional construct determines an individual’s capability to perform to
a predetermined standard (Bartram, 2005). The cognitive abilities comprising competency can be further categorized as
domain-speciﬁc or generic. Domain-speciﬁc abilities are those whose articulation deﬁnes a particular occupation, while
generic abilities underpin all work-related performance across occupational boundaries, for example, communication skills
such as writing and listening. As Semeijn, van der Velden, Heijke, van der Vleuten, and Boshuizen (2006) recently pointed
out, the use of empirical data to identify important competencies will generate more useful outcomes for both students and
Corresponding author. Tel.: +64 9 414 0800x9223; fax: +64 9 441 8109.
E-mail addresses: L.M.Jeffrey@massey.ac.nz (L. Jeffrey), M.A.Brunton@massey.ac.nz (M. Brunton).
Tel.: +64 9 414 0800x9282; fax: +64 9 441 8109.
0363-8111/$ – see front matter © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.