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

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Jacobs, Bertha
Karpova, Elena
Karpova, Elena
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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.