Core competencies

The core competencies technique focuses on an organisation's internal resources (its people) to identify what makes that organisation unique. It involves reviewing the organisation's skills, competencies and expertise, both as a whole staff team and as individual team members.

The aim of the exercise is to analyse the specific elements that makes an organisation distinctive or different from others in its sector.

A competence which is central to an organisation’s operations, but which isn’t exceptional in some way, shouldn’t be considered as a core competence, because it will not distinguish the organisation from others.

You can use the technique to identify what makes your own organisation unique and also to analyse what makes other organisations in your field particularly successful.


It can help link staff recruitment and development to the strategic planning process. It can help you to pinpoint competitor advantage – yours and other organisations’.


It can be difficult to identify your organisation’s core competencies; they can often be confused with individual staff competencies or those that are key but not exceptional. Analysing another organisation’s core competencies is likely to be even more tricky, as you will probably be basing your assessment on assumptions.

When to use it

Core competencies can be a useful way to look inside your organisation to assess your strengths and weaknesses. You could also use the technique as part of a competitor analysis when scoping your external environment.

What are your experiences of using this tool? Share your triumphs and tribulations with our network members or write your own tips by commenting on this page.

For more on core competencies, try the Tutor2u website.

Last updated at 17:54 Mon 12/Apr/10.


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