The Enactment-Externalization Dialectic: Rationalization and the Persistence of Counter-Productive Technology Design Practices in Student Engineering

Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 52, No. 2, pp. 400-420, 2009

50 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2009 Last revised: 25 Jun 2014

See all articles by Paul M. Leonardi

Paul M. Leonardi

University of California, Santa Barbara

Michele Jackson

University of Colorado at Boulder

Amer Diwan

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 28, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: socialization, engineering student, enactment, externalization, rationalization

Suggested Citation

Leonardi, Paul M. and Jackson, Michele and Diwan, Amer, The Enactment-Externalization Dialectic: Rationalization and the Persistence of Counter-Productive Technology Design Practices in Student Engineering (January 28, 2009). Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 52, No. 2, pp. 400-420, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1334071

Paul M. Leonardi (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara ( email )

Phelps Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.tmp.ucsb.edu/leonardi/

Michele Jackson

University of Colorado at Boulder ( email )

1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO CO 80309
United States

Amer Diwan

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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