June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Engineering Leadership Development Division
24.846.1 - 24.846.14
Leadership in Multidisciplinary Project Teams: Investigating the emergent nature of leadership in an engineering education contextEngineering as a profession is increasingly a team-based and multidisciplinary endeavor,requiring not only technical skill but also the ability to work well with diverse groups of people.In engineering education, students begin to learn about project teams in which the members mustmake and execute decisions, relying increasingly on their own reasoning and abilities whilelearning to depart from the strictly teacher-led notion of learning. In such a context, leadershiptakes on a unique role and has important effects on a team’s ability to complete its tasks.Leadership in this context is not inherent; it is a fluid concept that emerges throughout the teamprocess.This study examines students’ perceptions of leadership in multidisciplinary project teams. Theresearchers conducted interviews and examined the talk of students participating on these teamsto explore their notions of leadership- how it emerges, what qualities a leader has, and the effectsof leadership on these kinds of teams. The authors use a discursive psychological approach toexamine how the students characterize and position leadership within their teams, as well aswhat perceived effects that leadership and its associated characteristics has on team performance.A discursive psychological approach enables the researchers to examine discourse on two levels:“little d” discourse as language-in-use in everyday talk, as well as “big D” Discourses whichrefer to systems of language or other sensemaking practices that form our social realities. TheseDiscourses inform social practices by offering certain discursive resources that are evidenced inthe “little d” everyday language of participants.It is important to understand how students perceive leadership, how they understand a leader’srole and importance, and how leadership impacts the work of the team. This study offers a viewinto how leaders emerge and are viewed on these project teams. Using this approach, theresearchers examined what characteristics the students find most salient about a leader on theirparticular project team. The researchers also investigated some of the qualities that emergeacross the participants to generate a notion of what students in this engineering education contextthink about leadership and its role in programs like these. The authors also considered howleadership is perceived and handled in project teams informs our understanding of howleadership can be taught and learned, and how young engineers can develop those essential skillsin today’s complex and fluid work environment.
Feister, M. K., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Buzzanell, P. M., & Oakes, W. C., & Zhu, Q. (2014, June), Leadership in Multidisciplinary Project Teams: Investigating the Emergent Nature of Leadership in an Engineering Education Context Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20737
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