Social competence research: A review

Susan Seeber, Eveline Wittmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A large body of research on social competence or social skills exists in psychology, educational sciences and human resource management. In professional contexts, social competencies are mostly seen as general abilities, independent of specific workplace requirements. But in the case of vocational education and training, it is necessary to define social competence as a personal capacity which also allows acting in accordance with learning and workplace requirements. The issue of specificity versus generality of social competence still needs to be clarified. A related question pertains to the dimensionality of social competence, be it specifically related to a particular domain or relevant across domains. This has obvious methodological implications for the measurement of social competence as well as for training programmes. This chapter starts out by a discussion of different approaches to define social competencies and their implications for the problems of generality and dimensionality of social competence related to vocational and professional domains. Subsequently, measurement issues will be debated including the different methodological underpinnings for measuring social competence. The state of the art of modelling domains and competencies in these fields is then discussed, distinguishing between, among others, sales and services and social and health-care occupations. Research findings as to the structure, background, training and effects of social competence in vocational and professional domains will be critically reviewed. Finally, perspectives for future research will be identified.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTechnical and Vocational Education and Training
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameTechnical and Vocational Education and Training
ISSN (Print)1871-3041
ISSN (Electronic)2213-221X


  • Display Rule
  • Factual Knowledge
  • Professional Success
  • Social Competence
  • Vocational Education


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