Desired Competencies of Employees on International Agricultural Development Projects as Indicated by Project Managers: A Qualitative Study



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International agricultural development institutions previously hired employees based on their technical expertise, and, with little to no formal training in development, were sent to live abroad with one goal: implement the project. Since the development of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, a spotlight has been placed on the development industry as a whole, and calls for world-wide accountability. The purpose of this study was to identify the desired competencies of project employees on international agricultural development projects as determined by experienced project managers. The population (N=8) for this study were all current or past project managers of international agricultural development projects. The participants engaged in an interview with the researcher, or chose to complete a questionnaire via email or standard mail. The same questions were presented in both situations. The researcher analyzed the data using the constant comparative qualitative method. The finding of this study identified competencies and categorized them into the following domains: cultural awareness, technical training, communication and interpersonal skills, attitudes and behaviors, experience, and organizational skills. The implications this study affect the curriculum development and content of higher education institutions, the hiring and evaluation process of international agricultural development institutions, and self-competency evaluation of potential employees of international agricultural development projects. It is the recommendation of the researcher that further studies be conducted to determine if the value of these competencies differ as per the location of the development project. It is also recommended that institutions of higher education, development institutions, and beneficiaries collaborate to provide opportunities for practical application of knowledge to future and current employees of international agricultural development.