Making Leaders: Leadership Characteristics Of Makers And Engineers In The Maker Community

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James Oplinger
Micah Lande
Shawn Jordan
Leonor Camarena


Maker, Engineering, Competing Values Framework, Leadership


This study examines the emergence of leadership characteristics within a new organizational community of individuals: the Maker community. The Maker community is a group of individuals that classify themselves as “Makers” and have become innovators and entrepreneurs through the creation of technological gadgets, artistic projects, and other end products. Historically, so-called Tinkers were motivated to design and develop objects in their garages apart from other people with similar motivations. Drawing from Quinn’s Competing Values Framework, these Maker communities exemplify emergent leadership characteristics within collaboration frameworks. Forty critical incident interviews with Makers express the leadership characteristics of these individuals. Characteristics may differ from individual to another, but a general representation of the community as a whole can be made from observing sub-groups within the community. The results hold important implications for leadership growth, cross-cultural management, and the future for what has become an emerging organizational community. The growth of this community has implications for the field of engineering education and new project-based learning coursework. The emergence of the Maker community including maker spaces has also become relevant in this context and the future of how we education engineers.


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