Many commentators have attributed the poor performance of British manufacturing to the ‘under‐representation’ of engineers in management, and have proposed policies for bringing more engineers into management so as to develop a technologically oriented management culture. This paper argues that the under‐representation of engineers in management is a symptom not the root cause of the problem, which lies in the split between technical and managerial expertise at the enterprise level. Based on a comparative analysis of engineers’ work roles and the relationship between technical and managerial functions in British and Japanese electronics firms, the paper argues that the mechanistically structured organization systems in the British firms generate a vertical polarization between technical and managerial roles, inhibit knowledge sharing and lead to the gross under‐utilization of engineers in product development. A technologically oriented management cannot simply be achieved by getting more engineers into management. It requires, instead, organizational restructuring and changes in work practices to enable a better integration between technical and managerial expertise.
Journal of Management Studies – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1996
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