Report Abuse

0 0 Reviews

McClelland’s Theory of Competencies at Work (The Competency Model)

McClelland's Theory of Competencies at Work (The Competency Model)

David McClelland was a prominent psychologist known for his motivation and competency modeling work. He was a professor at Harvard University and conducted extensive research on human motivation and achievement. McClelland's expertise in the area of competency modeling led to the development of the McClelland Competency Model, also known as the Competency Model. 


David McClelland - McClelland’s Theory of Competencies at Work (The Competency Model)

Research: The development of the Competency Model was driven by the need to identify and measure the key competencies required for success in various roles and occupations. McClelland recognized that traditional intelligence and skills measures were insufficient to predict job performance and success. He believed that competencies, which encompass a combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics, were critical for effective performance in the workplace. McClelland developed the Iceberg Model of Competencies in response to the need for a comprehensive framework to understand and assess individual competencies. McClelland's Iceberg Model of Competencies is a framework that conceptualizes competencies as consisting of both visible and hidden components. The visible component represents the observable skills and behaviors that individuals demonstrate in their performance, while the hidden component represents the underlying motives, traits, and values that drive those behaviors. According to the model, the hidden component is the foundation of competencies and plays a crucial role in determining an individual's success and effectiveness in a given domain.



His other important research is also related to the Competency Model. McClelland stated that motivation is one of the core things for workplace performance as competency. You can read more about McClelland Motivation Model here.


Summary: The Competency Model developed by McClelland is a framework that identifies and defines the key competencies required for success in specific roles or occupations. It emphasizes the importance of both technical skills and personal characteristics, such as motivation, self-confidence, and adaptability. The model provides a structured approach for assessing and developing these competencies in individuals to improve job performance and organizational effectiveness.

The Iceberg Model of Competency - McClelland’s Theory of Competencies at Work (The Competency Model)png

Importance in the Field: The Competency Model has significant importance in the field of organizational behavior and human resource management. It provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and assessing the competencies needed for success in various roles. Organizations can improve employee performance, job satisfaction, and overall organizational effectiveness by identifying and developing these competencies. The Competency Model also has implications for leadership development, highlighting the importance of personal characteristics and behaviors in effective leadership. This model is also the basis of the theory of Emotional Intelligence developed by Daniel Goleman. You can read more about EI theory here.


Real-life Examples: 

  • One real-life example that illustrates the McClelland Competency Model is the selection and development process for high school teachers in Indonesia. A study by Hatta & Rini (2018) analyzed the competencies required for job satisfaction and organizational performance among high school teachers. The study found that leadership style, organizational culture, and work motivation influenced job satisfaction, highlighting the importance of these competencies in the education sector.
  • Another example is the identification of competencies required for occupational health nurses. Kono et al. (2017) conducted a study to identify the competencies necessary for occupational health nurses to perform their activities effectively. The study identified seven competencies, including self-growth competency, coordination competency, and team empowerment competency, among others. These competencies align with the McClelland Competency Model and emphasize the importance of personal and interpersonal skills in nursing.


Relevance for Trainers: Trainers should teach the Competency Model in their education sessions because it provides a practical and evidence-based approach to assessing and developing individual competencies. By understanding the key competencies required for success in specific roles, trainers can design targeted training programs that address the specific needs of learners. The Competency Model also emphasizes the importance of personal characteristics and behaviors, which can be developed through training and coaching.


Relevance for Organizations:

The McClelland Competency Model has significant relevance for organizations, particularly in the areas of employee motivation, job satisfaction, organizational behavior, and motivational theories. These models provide organizations with a systematic approach to identifying and assessing the competencies contributing to individual and organizational success. Organizations can improve employee motivation, job satisfaction, and overall organizational performance by aligning their recruitment, selection, training, and development processes with the competencies outlined in the models. But most importantly, this model is the basis of competency-based recruitment used in organizations today. By using this model, organizations hire accurate employees.



Hatta, I. H., & Rini, S. (2018). Developing job satisfaction which supports the improvement of organizational performance in private high schools located in Indonesia. International Journal of Engineering & Technology, 7(3), 529-534.

Hogan, R., Kaiser, R. (2005). What We Know About Leadership. Review of General Psychology, 2(9), 169-180. 

Kono, K., Goto, Y., Hatanaka, J., & Yoshikawa, E. (2017). Competencies required for occupational health nurses. Journal of occupational health, 59(6), 562-571.

Leeuw, H., Dijk, N., Waard, M. (2014). Assessment Of The Clinical Trainer As A Role Model. Academic Medicine, 4(89), 671-677. 

Rekola, M., Nippala, J., Tynjälä, P., Virtanen, A. (2018). Modeling Competences and Anticipating The Future Competence Needs In The Forest Sector. Silva Fenn., 3(52). 

Rumahorbo, H., Sofyana, H., Ali, K. (2018). The Effectiveness Of Human Patient Simulator On Knowledge, Motivation, and Clinical Competence Of The Student's Nursing About Diabetic Ketoacidosis Management. OJN, 08(08), 567-579.


David McClelland

McClelland’s Theory of Competencies at Work (The Competency Model) 0 reviews

Login to Write Your Review

There are no reviews yet.

Write Your Review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Author Info

Esen Şen

Member since 1 year ago
View Profile