Competence and the Workplace

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The focus of this chapter on competence at the workplace is on workers’ willingness to perform, which is defined as individuals’ psychological characteristics that affect the degree to which they are inclined to perform their tasks. People may be motivated by either the positive, appetitive possibility of competence, or the negative, aversive possibility of incompetence. Hence, workers’ achievement goals may be directed toward acquiring specific technical knowledge, developing their skills in organizing, or improving their ability to think strategically. Alternatively, they may be motivated to avoid incompetence in these work-related competencies. Second, I review not only the literature on achievement goals in industrial–organizational (I/O) psychology and their impact on job performance, but also that on interpersonal behavior at work, another key organizational outcome. Third, I discuss the implica- tions for effective interventions in the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Competence and Motivation
Subtitle of host publicationTheory and Application
EditorsAndrew J. Elliot, Carol S. Dweck, David S. Yeager
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherGuilford Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781462529605, 9781462536030
Publication statusPublished - 28-Apr-2017


  • competence
  • motivation
  • achievement
  • goal
  • avoidance
  • approach

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