set of demonstrable characteristics and skills that enable, and improve the efficiency or performance of a job

Competence is the set of demonstrable characteristics and skills that enable, and improve the efficiency of, performance of a job.


  • Insofar as our culture conventionally construes technical, scientific, and professional roles as those that obligate men to ignore all but the technical implications of their work, the very social structure itself is inherently pathogenic. The social function of such a segmented role structure is akin to that of the reflexive obedience induced by military training. The function of such a technical role structure, as of military discipline, is to sever the normal moral sensibilities and responsibilities of civilians and soldiers and to enable them to be used as deployables, willing to pursue practically any objective. In the last analysis, such arrangements produce an unthinking readiness to kill or to hurt others - or to produce things that do so - on order.
  • You cannot successfully use your technical knowledge unless you are a fairly educated person, and, in particular, have some knowledge of the whole field of the social sciences as well as some knowledge of history and philosophy. Of course real competence in some particular field comes first. Unless you really know your economics or whatever your special field is, you will be simply a fraud. But if you know economics and nothing else, you will be a bane to mankind, good, perhaps, for writing articles for other economists to read, but for nothing else.
    • Friedrich Hayek (1991). "On being an economist." In: W. W. Bartley and S. Kresge (eds.), The Trend of Economic Thinking; Essays on Political Economists and Economic History, Volume III, London. Routledge. p. 38
  • Efficiency, competence: Black students know the deadly, neutral definition of these words. There seldom has been a more efficient system for profiteering, through human debasement, than the plantations, of a while ago. Today, the whole world sits, as quietly scared as it can sit, afraid that, tomorrow, America may direct its efficiency and competence toward another forest for defoliation, or clean-cut laser-beam extermination.
    • June Jordan, "Black Studies: Bringing Back The Person" (1969), in Civil Wars: Observations from the Front Lines of America (1981), p. 47
  • Every person is going to have a circle of competence. And it's going to be very hard to advance that circle. If I had to make my living as a musician.... I can't even think of a level low enough to describe where I would be sorted out to if music were the measuring standard of the civilization.
    So you have to figure out what your own aptitudes are. If you play games where other people have the aptitudes and you don't, you're going to lose. And that's as close to certain as any prediction that you can make. You have to figure out where you've got an edge. And you've got to play within your own circle of competence.

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