Critical competences in public organizations facing turbulent environments: the EUROCONTROL case
Versailles, David; Mérindol, Valérie; Letexier, Thomas (2011), Critical competences in public organizations facing turbulent environments: the EUROCONTROL case, 6th Organization Studies Workshop: “Bringing Public Organization and Organizing Back In”, 2011-05, Paris, France
TypeCommunication / Conférence
Conference title6th Organization Studies Workshop: “Bringing Public Organization and Organizing Back In”
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract (EN)The analysis of the organization‘s strategic competitive advantages in networks is now a recurrent issue in resource-based theories, which proposes that sustained competitive advantages are more a function of organization resources than of industry structure (Amesse et al, 2006; Sanchez et al, 1997; Prahalad et al, 1990; Teece et al, 1997). When organizations face turbulent environments and the increasing complexity of the scientific and technological knowledge base, they focus the attention on activities fostering their competitive advantage against partners and competitors, and their position in the value chain. Viewing the organization as a stock of knowledge, the argument is developed that dynamic competences represent an important antecedent of superior performance in turbulent environments. Approaches referring to the management of knowledge assets and of competencies investigate the frontier between organizations, and the nature of interactions between stakeholders in networks. Dynamic competences stand here for the variety-generating capability of knowledge. Even in the resource-based views, the diversity of approaches about competences makes it obvious that the very concept of ―competence‖ remains imprecise. The identification of key technological and organizational competences represents a challenge for any organization (SubbaNarasimha, 2001). What is their actual content? How are they supposed to evolve against turbulent environments? What are key competences to be maintained in-house, or conversely outsourced? What is the relationship between key competences at organization level and individual key competencies? These questions not only apply to the industry, yet also to public bodies. To be mentioned among public actors are national states, public authorities and agencies in charge of R&D, procurement and technological innovation. The evolution of public agencies‘ roles and missions explain why they now inquire the nature and content of competences and the key knowledge assets to be maintained. This evolution has to account for the specificities of public missions and services, and also to the plasticity of organizations (which is their capacity to adapt efficiently to the turbulent environment). This contribution focuses on agencies in charge of complex technological programs in relation with public missions. These organizations face the need of adapting to the evolution of their institutional and technological environment. Numerous agencies face this type of challenge. They most often endorse specific responsibilities in R&D and technological policies. These agencies are in charge of making relevant technological choices in the framework of policy objectives assigned by political levels; they also need to make the subsequent decisions and implement them at the level of technological programs. Numerous instances may be raised to illustrate such evolutions: agencies in charge of technological programs and procurement in the Defense domain (Merindol, 2009; Merindol & Versailles, 2010), or agencies in charge of space programs at national level (for instance CNES in France; cf. Belleval, 2006) or at European level (the European Space Agency, cf. Cohendet & Lebeau, 1987). In this contribution, we will elaborate on a mission commissioned by EUROCONTROL, the European agency in charge of Air traffic management missions (ATM), which is also running a series of technological missions in order to ―produce‖ ATM-related technological programs. The agencies‘ role remains very specific. They currently face institutional evolutions and confront turbulent environments: technologies, economic relations, and governance modalities are reshaped at the same time. The turbulent environment affects the nature of public-private relations and the stakeholders‘ respective responsibilities in the development of technologies. The evolution of technological and organizational key competences translates into new positions in the value chain associated to the conception of technological programs, and in the characterization of public service missions (safety, security, quality, neutrality of the agency, etc.). This characterizes all stakeholders, yet our contribution will only address EUROCONTROL‘s perspective over this new environment. This contribution proposes an analysis of the evolution of EUROCONTROL‘s key competences in the domain of the Surveillance products and systems (SPS) which root at the kernel of the ATM mission. This contribution in strategic management will aim at investigating EUROCONTROL SPS unit key competences, as an instance of public body in charge of the management of complex technological programs. This contribution identifies key organizational and technological competences, and characterizes ―values‖ and ―attributes‖ of the knowledge assets mobilized by EUROCONTROL SPS unit. We propose to refer to the depth and breadth of knowledge and capabilities. Depth and breadth are the result of the technological and cognitive complexity associated to the conception of SPS products, and at the same time the condition necessary for managing it (Prencipe, 2000; Wang and von Tunzelmann, 2000). The interaction with EUROCONTROL SPS unit has led to appraise the level of depth and breadth of capabilities associated with several roles in the SPS product environment (i.e. the interaction between the Agency, its stakeholders, the SPS products end-users, and the industry). Evaluations have focused on EUROCONTROL SPS unit‘s capability to manage problem-solving, implement solutions, and facilitate interactions within the SPS network. We frame the investigation with several scenarios characterizing EUROCONTROL‘s roles and responsibilities, which correspond to specific positions in the value chain and to potential arrangements in the turbulent environment. Following the perspective developed by Hitt (2005), this contribution stresses the relevance and specificities of the investigation of competences for public organizations in strategic management, which holds particularly when agencies are in charge of the management of complex programs.
Subjects / Keywordspublic organizations; strategic management; Competences; EUROCONTROL
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