June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
24.1247.1 - 24.1247.19
The Non-Innovative EngineerMany of the existing studies on innovators are not specific to engineers. Those that focus onengineers aim to characterize innovative engineers. The purpose of this paper is to describe thenon-innovative engineer.We conducted a large-scale interview based study to understand what characteristics constituteinnovative or non-innovative behavior in engineers. The overall purpose of this study was todevelop socially accepted descriptions of these phenomena. More specifically, the researchquestion examined was: “What are the characteristics or knowledge, skills, and attributes thatenable or inhibit engineers from translating their creative ideas into innovations that benefitsociety?”This study was set in an interpretivist framework and developed a socially co-constructeddescription of engineering innovativeness or the lack thereof. The data were collected throughinterviews with 45 experienced and recognized engineering innovators who described engineerswho were innovative or non-innovative including themselves.A grounded theory analysis approach for integrated data collection and analysis was used toconstruct and test models of engineering innovativeness. After construction of a codebook andcoding reviews with research collaborators, interviews were coded until theoretical andcategorical saturation was achieved.Non-innovative engineers were described by engineering innovators in this study as: people whofail to challenge the status quo and who are not collaborators. They were seen as someone whominimized risk, as not persistent, thinking short-term and focused on a narrow domain ofknowledge or expertise rather than a more diverse knowledge and skill base.There is a paucity of published research on the characteristics of non-innovative engineers.However, a grounded theory interview-based study of 117 new product development staff in 17innovative and non-innovative companies found: “non-innovative organizations restrict [innovative behavior] by framing knowledge as separate, bounded subsets of operations, and defining their links in terms of the optimization of ongoing operations. [They] limited to new knowledge to that which improves existing operations; [or] confirms or ratifies current operations.” (Dougherty, Borrelli, Munir, & O’Sullivan, 2000)Non-innovative engineers were profiled by engineering innovators as the source of many of thebarriers that they had to overcome in developing an innovation. Pointing out what not to becomeor what traits to build in engineers to move them along the scale toward becoming moreinnovative will be useful to practicing engineers, engineering managers and engineeringeducators.Dougherty, D., Borrelli, L., Munir, K., & O’Sullivan, A. (2000). Systems of organizational sensemaking for sustained innovation, Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 17, 321-355.
Ferguson, D. M., & Purzer, S., & Ohland, M. W., & Jablokow, K. (2014, June), The Traditional Engineer vs. the Innovative Engineeer Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23180
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