With the increasing demands on organizations to do “more with less,” and produce acceptable market results, productivity and performance standards continually raise the expectations on competitive success. To meet these expectations, organizations should create learning opportunities that combine the application of technical management skills along with the softer skills involved in people management. Technical managers with little training or past experience with nontechnical skills often perform poorly in technical management positions (Kroecker, 2007). Because this generation lives in a highly technical environment, managers need to be proficient in dealing with knowledge workers and systems; therefore, there is a growing emphasis on the application of management competencies (Thamhain, 1990). Additionally, as the baby boomers shift from the marketplace to retirement, experienced technical leaders will be exiting the workplace. Within the next 10 years, the U.S. will experience a greater than threefold surge in leadership turnover in engineering and technical organizations, increasing the competition for a progressively scarce resource (Vieth & Smith, 2008). As indicated above, the necessity for competent technical managers will be a critical success factor for organizations to stay competitive.

Given that today’s labor market demands graduates who are competent in both technology and management, higher education has the opportunity to produce these graduates. For example, the Dulaimi study (2005) highlighted the need for academic and professional development programs to provide the right balance, in content and emphasis, between the technical knowledge and the people management skills for young professionals. Unfortunately, higher education is reacting slowly despite the need to develop graduates who are technically competent managerial professionals. The mission of the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) is to educate professionals dedicated to solving complex technological problems and developing the competitive technologist and applied engineering workforce. These technology management professionals or technologists are described in various ways.

The National Research Council defined technology management as the link between science, engineering, and management (1987) and (ATMAE) described it as the “field concerned with the supervision of personnel across the technical spectrum and a wide variety of complex technological systems” (2009, para. 6). The International Technology Education Association (ITEA) identified the characteristics of a technologically literate person as an individual who has knowledge of processes to develop systems within practical contexts that solve problems and extend human capabilities (2006). With such a wide variance of characteristics used to describe the technologist, i.e., technical managers, the body of knowledge is not clearly defined for technology management. The authors of this paper support the development of a common technology management core with appropriate and defined competencies. The purpose of this paper is to describe a core body of knowledge using competencies as a base for a technology management model. In order to accomplish the purpose, the authors asked the following questions:

  • What is the core body of knowledge for an entry-level technical manager?
  • What are the core competencies for an entry-level technical manager?

The remainder of this paper will focus on the basic elements of a technology management core body of knowledge, entry level competencies of technical managers, and introduce a competency model.


Business | Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Engineering | Other Engineering | Other Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering | Strategic Management Policy | Technology and Innovation


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