Examining the Engineering Leadership Literature: Community of Practice Style
2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
Inherent to the career trajectories of professional engineers is an expectation that they learn to integrate communication, interpersonal and leadership skills into their technical knowledge base. While this process may feel smooth and natural to some, research suggests that others find it challenging and require support [1-3]. Our paper examines three bodies of literature relevant to engineering leadership learning in industry contexts: industry perspectives on the skills, traits and styles of
... raits and styles of effective engineering leaders; large-scale surveys tracking engineers' career paths and transitions; and ethnographic studies examining engineers' professional identity development. Our primary reason for doing this is to ground the next phase of our engineering leadership project in the literature. In addition to this project-specific goal, we use the paper to document the collective, interdisciplinary process we used to review the literature. We begin by identifying our search criteria and fleshing out three key themes in the literature. We then analyze the themes through a conceptual framework made up of four theoretical tensions relevant to leadership learning: leadership as a position/process; social action shaped by human agency/social structure; learning as a situated/formal endeavour; and social justice as a central/peripheral concern. After discussing the significance and limitations of our interdisciplinary literature review experiment, and highlighting a gap in the leadership learning research, we generate a list of recommendations for engineering educators, industry leaders and engineering leadership researchers.