What do they need to succeed? Development of an apparel merchandising competency framework

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Jacobs, Bertha
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Karpova, Elena
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International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) Annual Conference Proceedings
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The first national meeting of textile and clothing professors took place in Madison, Wisconsin in June 1959. With a mission to advance excellence in education, scholarship and innovation, and their global applications, the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) is a professional and educational association of scholars, educators, and students in the textile, apparel, and merchandising disciplines in higher education.

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The purpose of this study was to: (a) identify a comprehensive list of merchandising knowledge and skills through an analysis of extant research; (b) categorize these knowledge and skills to create a classification matrix; and (c) based on this matrix, develop an apparel merchandising competency framework. Content analysis was used to to analyse a total of 32 published articles in peer reviewed journals focused on K&S required for business, retail, and merchandising professionals. A total of 140 different K&S found to be important for merchandising, retail, and business positions were identified and then systematically classified. The classification procedure followed four successive stages: (1) four main constructs were identified (i.e., explicit knowledge; tacit knowledge; soft skills; hard skills); (2) seven different categories of K&S were identified (i.e., explicit knowledge: general apparel and merchandising category; tacit knowledge: experience category; soft skills: interpersonal and intrapersonal category; hard skills: technical and conceptual/thinking category); (3) 39 types of K&S (16 knowledge and 23 skills) were identified within the seven categories and classified into each category; and (4) dimensions of each type of K&S were identified and classified accordingly. To categorize the K&S constructs, categories, and types, Pellegrino and Hilton’s (2012) competency domain framework was employed. The three competency domains aligned with the K&S constructs identified. Additionly, the different clusters in each domain provided an effective way to classify the categories and types of K&S. Based on this classification, we proposed an apparel merchandising competency framework that is discipline-specific and outlines the knowledge and skills required for merchandisers to be competent and, ultimately build a successful career.