Return to work: Toward post-industrial engineering by Diane E. Bailey and Stephen R. Barley. (2005) http://www.stanford.edu/group/WTO/cgi-bin/uploads/2005%20Return%20to%20Work.pdf
A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Science: The Dilemma of Engineering Schools in the Twentieth Century by Svante Lindqvist (1998)
Bailey & Barley (2005)’s article tracks the topics studied in industrial engineering and shows how concern for work studies declined and argues it should increase and industrial engineering research should also consider social science and should be more in the field and collect empirical data.
Lindqvisk (1998) shows how most of engineering schools of the western world are almost the same, how European and especially Swedish universities follow footsteps of MIT and how it is difficult and not right to assess the success of an engineering school with only publications. For example, as I see, even though promoted in this way, collaboration with industry is never a parameter to measure the success of the university. There are different rankings but most of them compare number of publications with number of active researchers. Engineering schools do not only publish article but gets patents, do cooperative projects with industry, develop new products and industrial processes. How should we count all of these to measure success?
When I think Bailey & Barley (2005)’s article and after I did a little research, I saw that according to McKinsey Global Institute’s report from 2012, in advanced economies the demand is growing faster than supply for skilled workers. They predict the shortage of 13% of the demand for high-skilled labor by 2020. Moreover, according to Gallup’s (2013) study “The State of the American Workplace”, 70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their workplace. They are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive. In the report it is estimated that “actively disengaged” workers cost the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. These numbers show the importance of having committed/ engaged employees at the workplace. If I also consider how the way people work have changed last 5 years, I agree with what the article suggests: industrial engineering researchers should focus on work research. Considering what Lindqvisk (1998) said regarding financing, I wonder whether funding sources and requirements are the result of the shift from work research to other topics.
At Lindqvisk (1998)’s article, when I read “Grenoble is, in a manner of speaking, closer to Stockholm than Uppsala”, I recognized this mentality. I know, for some Swedish people, L.A is closer than Uppsala. I have seen people who follow what is happening at MIT but not at KTH. I think, engineering schools should also focus on research &development of their proximity and should not only follow USA universities. May be that’s why, Swedish universities are trying to do collaborative research with other European universities and started different projects like, EIT ICT Labs, Tempus projects. I like what Lindqvist (1998) bring to the discussion: do we care about improvement that these engineering schools provide or do we mainly care to write it down and publish it?. Do we care about to “make history” or write history?
Both articles, actually suggest engineering research return back to their roots and be on the field
When it comes to financing, I think funding institutions dictate the research. If you look at PhD positions at Swedish universities, they are usually looking for PhDs for already ongoing projects. It is almost impossible to find a general ad regarding research at any of engineering programs. It is usually tied to a project, to a funding etc. I can make an anology of usage of a technology in Sweden: Heat Pump. Heat Pump industry gained support with the government’s incentive for households via tax deduction. The same goes with research: When there is a fund, there is a clear objective mandated: Fund for renewable energy, for example. Let’s say a researcher has a theory to use oil energy more effectively or gain more energy from oil and if s/he had enough funding s/he would prove it. Researcher has to find relevant funding to be able to pursue his/her research. After I had talk with other searchers and observed what is happening with EU funds, I noticed that big amount of time is spent just for finding relevant funding and preparing application. I have noticed how researchers diverge from their main interest towards the funding organizations’ requirements. Are we trying to push for real research or research for funding?
I think, there should be some sort of funding that; researchers should be able to use it for the topic they want to use. Researchers should have, at least, 10 percent of their time to use for any topic they want to do research. Let’s say, a docent should be able to get x amount of research funding per year, for any topic s/he wants to pursue. I am sure; this flexibility will increase motivation of researchers and number of scientific outputs.
My research is related Open Innovation / Data in different platforms. I do not think both of articles would have much impact on my research. In the future, I might consider influence of Open Innovation methodologies on work related research.
Gallup (2013) The State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders Accessed v ia http://www.gallup.com/strategicconsulting/163007/state-american-workplace.aspx september 2013