More than a 'humpty dumpty' term: strengthening the conceptualization of soft skills

Scott Alexander Hurrell, D.M. Scholarios, P. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


There is an ongoing sociological debate regarding which work activities can be considered ‘skilled’. In recent years, this debate has become increasingly controversial due to the growing prominence of so-called ‘soft skills’, especially when used in interactive service work. This article seeks to strengthen the conceptualization of soft skills, through case study investigation, to determine whether or not they are worthy of the ‘skilled’ label. An expanded notion of skill is supported, recognizing that in service contexts displaying employer-facilitated worker discretion and requirements for contextual knowledge in the use of soft skills, the term can indeed have real meaning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-182
Number of pages22
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number1
Early online date7 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • soft skills
  • human resource management

Cite this