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Julia Rutherford Silvers, CSEP

Certified Special Events Professional

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ANALYSIS OF THE EMBOK FRAMEWORK AS AN EVENT MANAGEMENT CURRICULUM MODEL

29 September 2013

Julia Rutherford Silvers, CSEP and Kathleen Beard Nelson, Ph.D., CSEP, CMP 

 

This is a paper that Kathy and I were working on prior to Kathy's death in 2010.

 

Abstract

Increased interest in event management educational programming in academic, vocational, professional development, and credentialing contexts has increased the need for strategies to ensure curricula parity. Such parity requires a standard against which programs can benchmark their current and future offerings. This article proposes that the Event Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK), a conceptual framework of the knowledge and processes of event management, can serve as such a model for curriculum assessment and development for these programs. The viability of this position is explored through the content mapping of five industry certification program competency and curriculum blueprints to the EMBOK framework.

 

Key words: event management, EMBOK, education, curriculum development


Introduction

Event management is the complex job of development, organization, supervision, and evaluation of a planned event. Planned events can range from meetings and trade shows to festivals and sports events, to business and communication events, to cause-related and social events. They can range from dozens to hundreds of thousands attendees and a handful of staff or more than a million volunteers (e.g., the Beijing Olympics and Shanghai World Expo) (United Nations Volunteers, 2010), and can span a few hours to several weeks or months. They “touch virtually every life on the planet several times over” every year (Schmader, 2009).

 

Given this broad range of planned events and their contexts, it is clear that this profession is both highly visible and in demand by students pursuing careersas well as workers seeking new opportunitiesin tourism, hospitality, sports and leisure, business communications, or experiential marketing. This demand increases the pressure on academic, vocational, and professional development education providers to make practical and effective programs available to their respective constituencies. Such programs should be based upon the scope and actual practice of managing events, providing an “integrative” curriculum that transcends event type or setting (Getz, 2002) “adapting from pertinent disciplines” (Getz, 2007). The credentials they award (e.g. certificate, certification, diploma, degree, etc.) should be credible and foster worker mobility in an increasingly global environment, with equivalencies that lead to mutual recognition of academic credits and credentials. Because event sectors and events within each sector vary widely in scope, scale, and complexity, curricula for educational programs should anticipate this flexibility by addressing the full range of knowledge categories and competencies.

 

This paper examines the development and viability of the Event Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK) as a conceptual framework that provides a comprehensive, stable, and user-interest structure in curriculum development through a comparison of the competency and curriculum blueprints of five industry certification programs using content mapping. These blueprints, based upon job analyses conducted by representative community of practice associations and confirmation by working professionals, reflect a credible and reliable outline of the functions, tasks, and knowledge required to work in event management. The EMBOK as a tool in curriculum development for university degree programs, community college programs, continuing education programs, certificate programs offered through universities as well as commercial entities, and professional certification programs offering credentials is discussed. The role of curriculum criterion for academe and industry, quality assurance initiatives in higher education, and the status of international recognition of standards and qualification credentials are considered. Finally, conclusions are drawn regarding the solutions and opportunities the EMBOK framework offers to curriculum developers.

 

Overview of the EMBOK and its development

An initial event management body of knowledge domain structure was developed in 2003 based upon an affinity analysis of 28 event management industry programs and knowledge systems from five countries plus a bibliography of industry-specific and general business literature (Silvers, 2004). This domain structure was expanded to five domains plus phases, processes, and core values in 2004 by the International EMBOK Executive and released as the International EMBOK Model, as shown in Table 1 (Silvers, Bowdin, O’Toole, & Nelson, 2006).

 

One of the stated purposes for development of the International EMBOK Model was “Education organizations, including academic and vocational training institutions, may use the EMBOK for developing and maintaining quality curriculum programs based on benchmarked current practice, as well as creating relevant research opportunities” (International EMBOK Executive, 2005). In addition to academics from universities in Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States offering event management programs, members of the International EMBOK Executive were also practitioner representatives of industry associations such as International Special Events Society (ISES), Meeting Professionals International (MPI), International Festival and Events Association (IFEA), to name a few.

 

Table 1. Overview of the International EMBOK Model

 

PHASES

PROCESSES

CORE VALUES

Initiation

Assessment

Continuous Improvement

Planning

Selection

Creativity

Implementation

Monitoring

Ethics

Event

Documentation

Integration

Closure

Communication

Strategic Thinking

 

DOMAINS

Administration

Design

Marketing

Operations

Risk

Financial

Catering

Marketing Plan

Attendee

Compliance

Human Resources

Content

Materials

Communications

Decision

Information

Entertainment

Merchandise

Infrastructure

Emergency

Procurement

Environment

Promotion

Logistics

Health & Safety

Stakeholder

Production

Public Relations

Participant

Insurance

Systems

Program

Sales

Site

Legal

Time

Theme

Sponsorship

Technical

Security

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2007, a tri-lateral Memorandum of Understanding between South Africa’s Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and the South African Qualifications Association (SAQA), Service Skills Australia, and the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) was signed in Johannesburg to undertake the mapping of their qualifications against each other and the EMBOK. In 2008, members of the International EMBOK Executive convened in Winnipeg, Manitoba to review the International Event Management Standard (IEMS) developed by the CTHRC, which used a curriculum model based on the EMBOK (Silvers, 2007) for norm referencing, plus other recognized and established occupational standards and curricula from six countries. The IEMS was ratified by a network of domestic and international professional associations, government standards setting bodies, event management practitioners, thought leaders, and other stakeholders from 16 countries, thereby taking the legitimacy of the EMBOK to a governmental level.

 

In 2009, the IEMS was subjected to a rigorous large-scale validation by events practitioners from more than 20 countries, and was released in 2010 as the Event Management International Competency Standards (EMICS) (Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council, 2010). The EMICS have subsequently been adopted by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) as the basis for their Meeting and Business Events Competency Standards (MBECS) (Meeting Professionals International, 2010). Thus, combined with the results of the analysis conducted for this study, a full circle substantiation of the relevance and efficacy of the EMBOK framework can be illustrated, as shown in Figure 1.

 

Figure 1. 360o Evaluation of the EMBOK framework

 

 

 

Methodology

This study compared the EMBOK to five voluntary certification programs offered by international organizations representing event industry professionals. These certification programs have implicitly adopted the National Organization for Competency Assurance guidelines for credentialing programs (NOCA, 2005), as well as adhere to the standards established by its accrediting body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA, 2003, 2004), which include demonstration of the link between the performance domains related to the skill or task identified in a job analysis to the competency assessment criteria. The relevance to curriculum development, and the role of EMBOK within it, as shown in Figure 2, is its critical position linking knowledge to competency assessmentwhat one should know how to do rather than measuring one’s ability to do it.

 

Figure 2. Overview of the professional credentialing path

 

 

The credentials selected for this study include professional certifications in meetings, exhibitions, festivals, special events, and overall event management, as shown in Table 2, and represent the predominant event sectors and typical credentials in the events industry (Bowdin, McPherson, and Flinn, 2006). This selection of credentials also represents the most prevalent event sector curricula foci of academic, vocational, and professional development programs. Each credentialing program has developed a blueprint that identifies, in varying depth, the tasks, skills, and knowledge associated with its respective occupation, thus establishing its own individual body of knowledge. By mapping these credentialing blueprints to the EMBOK, one can see the similarities and differences between the various certification programs and their bodies of knowledge, thereby establishing the potential for credential and curriculum parity.

 

Table 2. Scope of credentials included in the study

 

Mapping Scope

Credential

 

Program Owner

Blueprint Name

Blueprint Date

Blueprint Scope

 

CEM

Certified in Exhibition Management

International Association of Exhibitions and Events

CEM Learning Program Curriculum Blueprint

August 2008

11 major areas of study, 128 essential concepts, 515 knowledge topics

CEMP

Certified Event Management Professional

Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council

Event Management International Competency Standards

2010

11 domains, 34 tasks, 145 subtasks, and 985 skill statements (abilities)

CFEE

Certified Festival and Events Executive

International Festivals and Events Association

CFEE Core Curriculum Seminars

2005

6 core curriculum areas,  31 objectives, 61 key instruction elements, 292 learning outcomes, and 7 elective topics

CMP

Certified Meeting Professional

Convention Industry Council

CMP Examination Blueprint

January 2007

5 domain areas, 49 tasks, and 230 knowledge topics

CSEP

Certified Special Events Professional

International Special Events Society

CSEP Content Outline

January 2007

4 phases, 47 tasks, and 15 subtask areas under one of the tasks

EMBOK

* Mapping did not include EMBOK processes and core values.

NA

NA

International EMBOK Model

 

 


**EMBOK Curriculum Model

2005

 

 

 


(Silvers, 2007)

5 phases, 5 processes*, 5 core values*, and 5 domains with 35 task/knowledge areas


**189 major functions (tasks) and 745 performance elements (subtasks).

 

The mapping process for each EMBOK domain included importing all the competency or curriculum points from each source that were directly or indirectly relevant to the topic. Given the structural format and style differences (see Table 3), the competency points were then analyzed and compared for similarities taking into consideration the variables associated with each distinct credential. It should be noted that the EMBOK framework is organized alphabetically, as opposed to sequentially or sector-specific ranking in the blueprints included in the study, which provides a neutrality with regard to importance and therefore broadly applicable. The mapping was based upon a content analysis, for which there is a degree of subjectivity associated with the analyst’s judgment (Cambridge Professional Development Limited, 2010), however the resultant comparative overview (see Table 4) indicated that the practitioners in each sector are performing the same management functions, albeit with different emphasis and different issues per each sector.

 

Table 3. Blueprint structure and format

 

Credential

Blueprint Name

Blueprint Structure

CEM

CEM Learning Program Curriculum Blueprint

I. Event Marketing – Attendance and Exhibit/Sponsorship Promotion

II. Event Operations

III. Floor Plan Development

IV. Exhibition and Event Sales

V. Contracted Services and Vendors

VI. Security, Risk and Crisis Management

VII. Housing and Registration Management

VIII. Facilities and Site Selection

IX. Finance, Budgeting and Contracts

X. Strategic Planning and Management

XI. Conference and Meeting Management Principles for the Exhibition Manager

CEMP

Event Management International Competency Standards

A. Strategic Planning

B. Project Management

C. Risk Management

D. Financial Management

E. Administration

F. Human Resources

G. Stakeholder Management

H. Event Design

I. Site Management

J. Marketing

K. Professionalism

CFEE

CFEE Core Curriculum Seminars

1. Sponsorship/Sponsor Service

2. Administration/Management

3. Human Resources

4. Marketing/Media Relations

5. Operations/Risk Management

6. Non-Sponsorship Revenue Programs

CMP

CMP Examination Blueprint

I. Strategic Event Planning Process

II. Financial and Contract Management

III. Facilities and Services

IV. Logistics

V. Program

CSEP

CSEP Content Outline

1) Development Phase

2) Pre-Production Phase

3) Production Phase

4) Post-Production Phase

EMBOK

International EMBOK Model

Phases

Processes

Core Values

Domains

Administration

Design

Marketing

Operations

Risk management

 

Table 4. Mapping outcome at-a-glance

 

EMBOK

CEM

CEMP

CFEE

CMP

CSEP

Administration 

Financial

X

X

X

X

X

Human Resources

X

X

X

X

X

Information

X

X

X

X

X

Procurement

X

X

X

X

X

Stakeholder

X

X

X

X

X

Systems

X

X

O

X

O

Time

X

X

X

X

X

Design

Catering (F&B)

X

X

X

X

X

Content

X

X

O

X

X

Entertainment

X

X

X

X

X

Environment

X

X

X

X

X

Production

X

X

O

X

X

Program

X

X

X

X

X

Theme

O

X

X

O

X

Marketing

Marketing Plan

X

X

X

X

X

Materials

X

X

X

X

X

Merchandise

O

X

X

X

X

Promotions

X

X

X

X

X

Public Relations

X

X

X

X

X

Sales

X

X

X

X

X

Sponsorship

X

X

X

X

X

Operations

Attendees

X

X

X

X

O

Communications

X

X

X

X

X

Infrastructure

X

X

X

X

X

Logistics

X

X

X

X

X

Participants

X

X

X

X

X

Site

X

X

X

X

X

Technical

X

X

O

X

X

Risk 

Compliance

X

X

X

X

X

Decisions

X

X

X

X

X

Emergency

X

X

X

X

X

Health/Safety

X

X

X

O

X

Insurance

X

X

X

X

X

Legal

X

X

X

X

X

Security

X

X

X

X

X

 

http://www.juliasilvers.com/embok/CEM_EMBOK_Analysis.htm

http://www.juliasilvers.com/embok/EMICS_EMBOK_Analysis.htm

http://www.juliasilvers.com/embok/CFEE_EMBOK_Analysis.htm

http://www.juliasilvers.com/embok/CMP_EMBOK_Analysis.htm

http://www.juliasilvers.com/embok/CSEP_EMBOK_analysis.htm

 

The skills and knowledge content points for the topics were then analyzed for similarity of task objective to identify the overarching areas of activity within each management area, as shown in Table 5. In that they represent the essential competencies, this menu of topics represent the responsibilities associated with event management, and although they have variable situational applicability within each event context (i.e., event type, purpose, scale, complexity, etc.), they show the same fundamental task and skill set categories. This provides curriculum developers with a benchmark for conducting a gap analysis of existing curricula and a strategy for developing new programs, irrespective of a sectoral focus such as meetings and conventions, exhibitions, festivals, special events, or other types of planned events.

 

Table 5. Overview of responsibilities associated with event management

 

ADMINISTRATION

The Administration domain deals primarily with the proper allocation, direction and control of the resources used in an event project. (Silvers, 2005)

Financial

- Budgets

- Costing, Pricing

- Cash Flow Management

- Accounting

Human Resources

- Organizational Structure

- Workforce Relations

- Volunteers

- Employment Legalities

Information

- Information Acquisition

- Distribution, Control

- Documentation

- Record Keeping

Procurement

- Solicitation Documents

- Source Selection

- Change Controls

- Contract Administration

Stakeholders

- Client Management

- Constituencies

- Participants, Providers

- Communications

Systems

- Database Systems

- Knowledge Management

- Accountability Systems

- Technology

Time Management

- Activity Architecture

- Timelines

- Production Schedules

- Schedule Controls

 

DESIGN

The Design domain focuses on the artistic interpretation and expression of the goals and objectives of the event project and its experiential dimensions. (Silvers, 2005)

Catering

- Menu Selection

- Service Planning

- Alcohol Management

- Catering Operations

Content

- Communication Needs

- Educational Obligations

- Topic, Format Selection

- Speaker Selection

Entertainment

- Sourcing, Selection

- Entertainer Requirements

- Entertainer Controls

- Ancillary Programs

Environment

- Décor, Furnishings

- Site Layout

- Wayfinding

- Learning Environments

Production

- Lighting

- Sound

- Visual Presentations

- Special Effects

Program

- Agenda Choreography

- Activities, Attractions

- Ceremonial Needs

- Amenities, Hospitality

Theme

- Purpose, Message

- Cultural Iconography

- Image, Branding

- Theme Integration

 

MARKETING

The Marking domain addresses the functions that facilitate business development, cultivate economic and political support, and shape the image and value of the event project. (Silvers, 2005)

Marketing Plan

- Plan Development

- Target Markets

- Messages, Mediums

- Customer Relations

Materials

- Promotional Materials

- Collateral Materials

- Design, Production

- Delivery

Merchandise

- Product Development

- Brand Management

- Manufacture

- Distribution

Promotions

- Advertising

- Promotional Events

- Cross Promotions

- Contests, Giveaways

Public Relations

- Image Management

- Media Relations

- Publicity

- Crisis Management

Sales

- Ticketing Operations

- Sales Platforms

- Concessions

- Cash Handling

Sponsorship

- Sponsors, Donors

- Benefits Packaging

- Solicitation

- Servicing Sponsors

 

OPERATIONS

The Operations domain concentrates on the people, products, and services that will be brought together on-site to produce the event project, as well as the roles, responsibilities, applications and maneuvers associated with each. (Silvers, 2005)

Attendees

- Registration, Ticketing

- Admittance Controls

- Movement, Traffic Flow

- Crowd Management

Communications

- Internal, External Modes

- Equipment, Protocols

- Briefing, Debriefing

- Production Book

Infrastructure

- Transportation, Parking

- Utilities

- Waste Management

- Sanitation Services

Logistics

- Task Sequencing

- Contractor Coordination

- Equipment, Materiel

- Move-In/Out, Maintenance

Participants

- Role Assessment

- Access Control

- Protocol Requirements

- Hospitality Facilities

Site Management

- Site Sourcing, Inspection

- Selection, Contracting

- Site Planning

- Site Development

Technical Production

- Staging, Equipment

- Installation

- Operation

- Technicians

 

RISK

The Risk domain deals with the protective obligations, opportunities and legalities traditionally associated with any enterprise, including an event project. (Silvers, 2005)

Compliance

- Statutes, Regulations

- Accessibility

- Property Rights

- Compliance Instruments

Decision Management

- Decision Framing

- Resources, Criteria

- Decision Process

- Authority, Empowerment

Emergency Management

- Medical Services

- Evacuations

- Crisis Management

- Disaster Management

Health & Safety

- Fire Safety

- Occupational Safety

- Health, Welfare

- Crowd Behavior, Control

Insurance

- Loss Prevention

- Liability

- Coverage Requirements

- Policy Management

Legal

- Contracts, Negotiation

- Licenses, Authority

- Policies, Procedures

- Ethical Operations

Security

- Personnel

- Equipment

- Deployment

- Command, Control

 

 

Discussion

The challenge for curriculum developers for event management educational and professional credentialing programs is to ensure a comprehensive and flexible model that represents the full scope of the responsibilities assigned to event organizers. These programs might focus on a single type of event or the full spectrum of event sectors, yet should consider the transposable characteristics inherent in all events. The goal is providing learners with the knowledge that prepares them to enter or advance in the workplace and the industry, no matter where they enter or where their career takes them.

 

All sectors–meetings and conventions, cause-related and fundraising events, corporate and live communications events, festivals and civic events, fairs and expositions, social and life-cycle events, entertainment and leisure events, and spectator and participatory sports events–have administrative functions, event design functions, marketing functions, operations functions, and risk management functions that must be performed. The comprehensive nature of the EMBOK provides a scalable and adaptable structure that reflects the total picture of industry’s management activities. Although different event sectors will have different applications, including differing terminology, techniques, and elements, the scope of responsibilities does not change; only the applicability of the functions will be different.

 

The EMBOK categories are generic rather than specific per event type, which facilitates a broad range of possibilities ranging from the nomenclature for comparable course titles as well as an assessment tool for course content to articulation agreements between institutions to ensure the efficacy and efficiency of credit transfer. In addition, it might serve as a benchmark for establishing linkage across numerous degree programs (e.g. departments) and course materials (e.g. textbooks); establishing standards for a quality equivalency assessment of curricula; curriculum differentiation between programs aimed at credit transfer (e.g. community college to university) and those aimed at personal development or interest (e.g. continuing education); and harmonizing respective credentialing programs in order to facilitate equitable mutual and foreign credential recognition. The generic nature of the EMBOK categories also illustrates the potential for translating skills and context both inside and outside the events industry, once again fostering career mobility as well as expanding the pool of sources and resources available to programs, instructors, and learners.

 

Conclusion and Recommendations

Given that the blueprints provided by organizations awarding professional certifications to successful candidates have been developed using job analyses of “expert-level” working professionals, the results of this study reflect the total picture of the occupation’s activities and indicate an underlying parallel in the core management functions that span the various event sectors. The structure of the EMBOK incorporates these functions into a framework of recognizable and modularized categories that captures the fundamental knowledge needed by practitionersthe components necessary for a comprehensive and effective curriculum.  

 

The EMBOK appears to be a scalable system for analyzing and organizing curricula for the field of event management. However this will only be proven through usagetesting its relevance and reliability in customizing learning programs for the variety of event sectors at the various levels of credential desired. Yet the opportunities for curriculum and course development are promising. In addition to facilitating quality assurance initiatives for globally harmonized academic programming and workforce education, the EMBOK framework facilitates cost effective development of uniform and adaptable curricula without duplicating efforts already accomplished. It also offers the ability to customize programming, particularly in an e-learning context, by organizing course offerings in a structured domain-category classification system.

 


References

Bowdin, G. A. J., McPherson, G., & Flinn, J. (2006). Identifying and analysing existing research undertaken in the events industry: a literature review for People1st. Leeds, UK: Association for Events Management Education (AEME).

Cambridge Professional Development Limited (2010). Competency Standards and Qualifications Frameworks: Exploring the Value of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a Tool for Mapping and Analysis, Final Report. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council.

Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (2010). Event Management International Competency Standards (Version 1.0), Preface. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council.

Getz, D. (2002). Event Studies and Event Management: On Becoming an Academic Discipline. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 9(1), 12-23.

Getz, D. (2007). Event Studies: Theory, research and policy for planned events. Oxford, UK: Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann, p.329.

International EMBOK Executive (2005). International EMBOK Model. Internet (http://www.embok.org/staticpages/index.php?page=international_embok_model)

Meeting Professionals International (2010).  Keeping your Career Current: MBECS and MPI Global Training. Dallas, Texas: Meeting Professionals International. Internet  (http://www.mpiweb.org/Events/WEC2010/SCHEDULE/Sessions/Details?S=2614)

NCCA (2003). National Commission for Certifying Agencies Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. Washington: National Organization for Competency Assurance.

NCCA (2004). NCCA Standards for the Certification of Accreditation Programs. Washington: National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

NOCA (2005). The NOCA Guide to Understanding Credentialing Concepts. Washington: National Organization for Competency Assurance.

Schmader, S. W. (2009). The Power of Celebration. Boise, Idaho: International Festivals & Events Association. Internet (http://www.ifea.com/joomla1_5/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=180&Itemid=306).

Silvers, J. R. (2004). Global Knowledge Domain Structure for Event Management. In Z. Gu (Ed.), Conference Proceedings, Las Vegas International Hospitality and Convention Summit (pp. 228-245). Las Vegas: University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Silvers, J. R. (2005). The Potential of the EMBOK as a Risk Management Framework for Events. Conference Proceedings, 2005 Las Vegas International Hospitality and Convention Summit. Las Vegas: University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Silvers, J. R. (2007). EMBOK Curriculum Model. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Speaking of Events

Silvers, J. R., Bowdin, G. A. J., O’Toole, W. J., & Nelson, K. B. (2006). Towards an International Event Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK). Event Management, 9 (4), 185-198.

United Nations Volunteers (2010). UNV opens multi-media exhibit at 2010 Shanghai World Expo. Internet (http://www.unv.org/en/news-resources/news/doc/unv-opens-multi-media-exhibit.html).

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