Professionalism Among Chinese Engineers: An Empirical Study

  • Lina Wei
  • Michael DavisEmail author
  • Hangqing Cong
Original Research/Scholarship


In 2016, Davis and Zhang surveyed 71 Chinese engineers to investigate the claim that the concept of “profession” may have a far wider range than the term. They concluded that China seems to have a profession of engineering (as Davis has long defined “profession”) even though the Chinese still lacked an exact translation of the English term. In part, the survey reported here simply continues the work of Davis and Zhang. It confirms their result using a much larger, better educated, demographically different pool of 229 Chinese engineers. But, in part too, it does something else. It investigates the concept professional competence—the perceived knowledge, skill, and judgment that those surveyed attribute to themselves and other engineers. The article has four parts. The first part describes the basics of the survey (who was interviewed, how, when, and so on). The second part describes some important features of the survey’s questions, explaining how the questions closely track both the concept of profession and the concept of professional competence. The third part reports and interprets the results relevant to the presence or absence of the concepts of profession and professional competence. The fourth part reports the conclusions.


Engineering Profession China Engineers Competence Social contract 



Thanks to the support from the Major Project of the National Social Science Fund of China (Research on Ethical Morphology of Chinese Engineering Practice, 15ZDB015), and to Associate Professor Jian Yuan for suggesting a few improvements in the statistical analysis and for his support from the Special Task Project of Humanities and Social Sciences Research of the Ministry of Education (Research on the Cultivation of Engineering and Technical Talents, 18JDGC019). Thanks also for comments of several reviewers for this journal.

Supplementary material

11948_2019_158_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (261 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 262 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, School of HumanitiesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Center for the Study of Ethics in the ProfessionsIllinois Institute of TechnologyChicagoUSA

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