June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Engineering Leadership Development Division
Exploring the use of the competing values framework in engineering education
As shown by the rapid increase in engineering programs offering formal leadership training, the call for more engineers as leaders is being answered. Opportunities for engineers to be leaders will only grow with the need for technical judgement in economic, social, and environmental decision-making, according to the National Academy of Engineering, or NAE (2004). Furthermore, the NAE acknowledges that engineers with business and management expertise have more opportunities to serve as leaders.
In an effort to better understand leadership development in different settings, we turned to industry models of measuring leadership effectiveness, which can inform engineering education (Borrego et al., 2013). Behavioral complexity, or the capacity of an individual to utilize a variety of behaviors, each best suited to a given setting (Lawrence et al., 2009) is described through the Competing Values Framework (CVF) theory. This theory is the source for the Managerial Behavior Instrument (MBI), an empirically tested measure of leadership effectiveness (Quinn & Rohrbaugh, 1981; Lawrence et al., 2009). The CVF describes roles and behaviors in four quadrants: collaborate, create, control, and compete. The resulting information, however, is not dichotomous, but rather acknowledges that an individual can express strong behaviors in multiple quadrants leading to behavioral complexity, a correlate to higher leadership effectiveness.
This research involves administering a survey, which includes a modified MBI, to engineering students working in self-managed teams on a substantial project. Initial data comes from students in a curricular capstone design course. Subsequent data will include data from students working on a substantial project in a co-curricular setting. Each group will be surveyed twice by January, with the goal of exploring the level of complexity of student leadership behavior.
The MBI survey was modified where necessary to apply to an engineering classroom setting. Words used in the business context, such as “direct reports,” were changed to “teammates,” for example. In testing the psychometric properties of the new survey with introductory survey respondents, we determined the new instrument to be reliable (Cronbach’s alpha values for each of the four leadership quadrants ranged from 0.765 to 0.828) and to exhibit initial convergent validity (Pearson’s correlation with significance of less than or equal to .01 for 94 percent of intra-instrument expected correlations).
The paper will contain data from introductory and mid-year surveys from students in a mechanical engineering capstone design (n~240) as well as in the Engineers Without Borders student group (n~40). It will include comparisons between individual behavioral complexity of students at different points in time as well as between teams in each different setting. The research team will further explore how student demographics and previous experiences have influenced their levels of behavioral complexity.
Borrego, M., Karlin, J., McNair, L., & Beddoes, K. (2013). Team effectiveness theory from industrial and organizational psychology applied to engineering student project teams: A research review. Journal of Engineering Education, 102(4), 472–512.
Lawrence, K. A., Lenk, P., & Quinn, R. E. (2009). Behavioral complexity in leadership: The psychometric properties of a new instrument to measure behavioral repertoire. Leadership Quarterly, 20, 87–102.
National Academy of Engineering. (2004). The engineer of 2020: Visions of engineering in the new century. The National Academies Press.
Quinn, R., & Rohrbaugh, J. (1981). A competing values approach to organizational effectiveness. Public Productivity Review, 5(2), 122–140.
Komarek, R., & Knight, D., & Bielefeldt, A. R. (2017, June), Exploring the Use of the Competing Values Framework in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28343
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