The Enactment-Externalization Dialectic: Rationalization and the Persistence of Counter-Productive Technology Design Practices in Student Engineering
Paul M. Leonardi
University of Colorado at Boulder
affiliation not provided to SSRN
January 28, 2009
Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 52, No. 2, pp. 400-420, 2009
This paper explores why engineering students become and remain committed to counterproductive practices. Our findings suggest that during their tenure in engineering school, informants performed work practices that coincided with lay-stereotypes about what "good engineers" do. As informants performed these practices and teachers attempted to change them, they sought justifications that made those practices seem rational. This externalization process encouraged informants to perform these practices more frequently. We characterize the relationship between the enactment of norms and the externalization of work practices as a dialectical process that helps explain why engineering students could not conceive of changing their work. We draw on these findings to suggest implications for theory on occupational socialization and for the management of engineering work.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 50
Keywords: socialization, engineering student, enactment, externalization, rationalizationAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 28, 2009 ; Last revised: October 14, 2009
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