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  1. Although innovation is highly valued in organizations, early‐career professionals face a paradox of bringing in novel ideas, yet having varied latitude and support to see these new ideas through. Building on 35 critical‐incident‐based interviews with early‐career engineers in the United States, this study illuminates the socially situated dynamics of their innovation efforts, examining the process of such promotive proactive behaviour. We find that all participants reported some engagement in creating, championing and implementing new ideas, typically in the form of self‐initiated improvements to the tools and processes participants used in their jobs. Encouragement from direct supervisors, supportive organizational cultures and practices, job scope, time afforded and one's perceived status were key considerations in determining whether to take such initiative. Carrying out innovative work behaviours, in turn, was largely dependent on continued employee initiative and ad hoc, informal cooperation, with individual effort punctuated by influential interactions with others that often determined the perceived valence of efforts. The study adds to understanding the social interactions and perceptions of voice required for innovative work behaviour, revealing when and to whom these prerequisites are afforded. Implications for organizations' innovation capacity and new hires' participation in innovation are discussed.

     
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  2. Abstract Background

    In recent years, technological innovation and entrepreneurship have been emphasized in engineering education. There is a need to better understand which individual‐ and contextual‐level factors are related to engineering students' entrepreneurial intentions.

    Purpose/Hypothesis

    This study explores individual and contextual predictors of entrepreneurial intent among undergraduate women and men in engineering and business majors. Entrepreneurial intent is defined as the personal importance that students ascribe to starting a new business or organization.

    Design/Method

    The participants included 518 engineering and 471 business undergraduates from 51 U.S. colleges and universities. We examined relationships first by discipline and then by gender in each discipline using regression models with interaction terms.

    Results

    Innovation orientation and participation in entrepreneurship activities tied to intent more strongly for engineering students than for business students; in contrast, being at a research institution and selection of novel goals tied to intent more strongly for business students than for their engineering peers. Among engineering students only, being able to switch gears and apply alternative means for reaching one's goal in the face of setbacks was positively related with women's entrepreneurial intent but not with men's.

    Conclusions

    Entrepreneurial intent is a function of individual‐level characteristics and academic and social contexts, with some degree of discipline‐specific effects. Diversifying the community of aspiring engineering entrepreneurs is a critical issue that merits attention by the engineering education community.

     
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