June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Engineering Leadership Development
In the early 1950s, many science and technology focused organizations in the United States and Canada began to formalize a technical career track to accommodate the professional aspirations of engineers reluctant to abandon technical work for management [1-7]. While the resulting dual career track model—characterized by both managerial and technical ladders—remains dominant in human resource management theory, there is little evidence that engineers’ actual work experiences map on to two discrete domains [8, 9]. Our paper expands the dual track model by tracing the actual career paths and leadership learning experiences of 28 senior engineers in eight industries. We do this, not to better understand engineers’ career paths for their own sake, but rather to examine how engineers learn to lead in workplace contexts. In particular, we ask two organizationally related research questions: 1) What career paths do engineering leaders follow? and 2) How do they learn to lead along the way? After briefly reviewing the literature on engineering leadership development and engineers’ career paths, we introduce the situated learning perspective that grounds our work and present our findings in two parts. Part one characterizes six discrete paths—1) Company man, 2) Technical specialist, 3) Boundary spanner, 4) Entrepreneur, 5) Social impact change agent, and 6) Invisible engineer, and part two identifies salient leadership learning experiences that correspond with each path. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for engineering leadership educators.
Rottmann, C., & Reeve, D., & Kovalchuk, S., & Klassen, M., & Maljkovic, M., & Moore, E. L. (2019, June), Counting Past Two: Engineers' Leadership Learning Trajectories Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32552
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