The knowledge, skills and competencies for effective public affairs practice: a UK study

Bowman, Sarah (2017) The knowledge, skills and competencies for effective public affairs practice: a UK study. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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This thesis adds conceptual and practical value to the field of public affairs (PA). It connects scholarship from the fields of competencies, careers and knowledge, with the theory and practice of PA. The review of literature clearly demonstrated that a gap existed. This then provided a basis for a mixed methods study that enabled the creation of a model of contemporary UK PA practice; a PA knowledge architecture that supports practice; a conceptual PA competency typology on which a competency framework can be built; and an illustrative PA competency framework that reflects a twenty-first century profession.

The study was guided by a critical realist worldview that suggests reality is complex and to understand any phenomena a broad a set of research instruments is necessary. The study, therefore, integrated qualitative and quantitative techniques. The qualitative study consisted of 31 interviews with PA practitioners and those involved in policy making that allowed the gathering of rich data mirroring the complexity of work and policy construction. A survey of 50 practitioners also informed the study by helping to illuminate relationships and added greater depth. The research also integrated content analysis by reflecting on four competency frameworks against best practice scholarship to provide practical insights.

Findings suggest an evolving field that combines both cohesion and diversity that can be integrated into an embryonic professional identity that reflects a broad set of agreed competencies and knowledge. This is shaped by postmodernist trends in identity and knowledge construction rather than that which mirrors the traditional concept of what defines a profession.

Limitations relate to its scope: a UK focus. Further studies in different cultural and political settings need to be encouraged and perhaps longitudinal studies developed to look at the longer-term impact of whether a competency approach can lead to improved performance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Media
Media > Public relations
Depositing User: David Phillips
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2017 15:00
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:23


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