Engineers as managers : a comparative study of the career experiences of graduate engineers
The theme of the research stemmed from the generally held conviction that engineers are not found populating the managerial levels of UK based companies to the extent that is the case in most of continental Europe. Put simply, in the UK engineering is not considered to be the 'royal route' to management. In 1978 through a funding initiative by the then University Grants Committee, management enhanced 4 year engineering degree courses known as 'Dainton' courses after the then Chain-nano f the committee, Sir Frederick Dainton, were launched to attract some of the most able candidates to engineering. Designed to "fast track" engineers into management these courses have been running now for nearly 20 years and the research set out to answer whether their graduates have become managers, professional engineers, both or neither and how their background in technology and management may have influenced their subsequent career progression and migration into management. The study is based on 575 usable responses to a postal questionnaire sent to 1,838 'Dainton' graduate engineers and comparable control groups from Birmingham, Brunel, Cambridge, Impenal, Oxford and Strathclyde Universities. The responses to the questionnaire are supplemented by an ethnographical study of documentary course literature and discussions with staff responsible for the courses. Contrasts were found between the groups of engineers and the thesis explores these differencesa nd discussesth e possible reasonsf or them. By developing an insight into the role and influence of management training in engineering degrees the thesis concludes bv examining the consequences for the management of careers.