Identifying Value in the Engineering Enterprise

  • James TrevelyanEmail author
  • Bill Williams
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 32)


The investigation presented in this chapter was originally inspired by the authors’ observations of engineers in Australia, India, Pakistan, and Portugal that suggested the value aspect of their work was rarely addressed. This is somewhat surprising given that value creation lies at the core of any business and nearly all of the engineers observed were working for business enterprises. This initial observation led us to examine what turned out to be relatively sparse literature relating to engineering value, how the value of engineering work is perceived within the context of entrepreneurship and innovation research and how students are introduced to this in engineering education programs and entrepreneurship courses. We were led to conclude that the concept of value creation makes only a tenuous and indistinct appearance at the far periphery of engineering discourse. Given the critical importance of business investment for almost all engineering enterprises, it is surprising that the research literature is almost silent on this issue. In the study we identify ways that engineers create and protect value that are not usually mentioned in the innovation-centred approach typical of entrepreneurship research and education emanating from Schumpeter’s early twentieth century ideas that still shape business and economics today. We hypothesize that this lack of awareness of value creation by engineers may be associated with low success rates of major engineering capital expansion projects such as process plants, infrastructure construction, and defence equipment acquisitions. Furthermore, it could help to explain some of the everyday frustrations encountered by engineers, employers and investors in engineering enterprises and low rates of productivity improvement in developing countries.


Engineering practice Value creation Economics Engineering education Entrepreneurship Engineering philosophy 



The authors wish to acknowledge the willing participation of engineering practitioners in Australia, Pakistan, India and Portugal in providing data for our studies and we hope to have done justice to the trust they extended by inviting us into their workplaces and taking time to share their work practices with us. Funding from the Australian government and the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia supported studies by the authors that provided much of the data for this chapter.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mechanical Engineering DepartmentThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  2. 2.CEG-IST, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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