Impact of cultural differences among engineering managers on assessing competencies of engineering graduates - A case study

Martin Jaeger, Gang Yu, Desmond Adair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Globalization has increased the frequency of interactions between engineers from different cultural backgrounds. The purpose of this study is to identify the perspectives of Arab and Chinese managers of engineers on the relative importance of engineering competencies and the satisfaction with these competencies exhibited by early career engineers in their organizations. Questionnaire based interviews are carried out with 95 Arab managers of engineers and 52 Chinese managers of engineers, all involved with engineering projects in Kuwait. Descriptive and inferential statistics (Wilcoxon and Mann-WhitneyUtest) have been carried out. The results show that managers from both groups largely agreed on the relative importance of the competencies, with the competencies knowledge of contextual factors and orderly management of self being considered by Chinese managers to be more important than by Arab managers. Chinese managers were less satisfied with the competencies, knowledge of contextual factors, in depth understanding of specialist knowledge areas and the application of established engineering practice. Arab managers perceived their overall satisfaction of the competencies significantly lower than the importance of these competencies. These findings, and further details presented in this paper, support engineering educators and engineering educational institutions to prepare engineers for cross cultural work within a globalised world by showing that students need more opportunities to increase awareness and practice ethical conduct and team work, develop their understanding of specialist knowledge areas and accountabilities, and be exposed to crosscultural project scenarios. For Chinese institutions of engineering education it is recommended to include in their engineering curricula contextual factors of the most relevant contexts overseas, and, to investigate further the low satisfaction of Chinese managers with graduates' level of theory based understanding and conceptual understanding of mathematics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-129
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number1A
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020


  • China
  • Engineering competency
  • Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Importance
  • Manager
  • Satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)

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