ERIC Number: ED372189
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993
What Do Technicians Do? EQW Working Papers WP17.
Barley, Stephen R.
Between 1950 and 1988, the number of professional and technical workers increased by 282% while the labor force as a whole only increased by 94%. Most persons employed as technicians work on or with reputedly complex technologies. Most work at the empirical interface between a larger production process and the materials on which the process depends. At such interfaces, the technician's task involves the complementary processes of transformation and caretaking. In some occupations, technicians buffer other occupations from contact with the empirical phenomena over which the latter are reputed to have mastery. In other occupations, technicians function as brokers bridging the organization they serve and the larger technical community associated with the technology they oversee. In either case, technicians require both formal and contextual knowledge. In view of technicians' roles and knowledge requirements, effective educational programs for training technicians must impart contextual knowledge of a technical domain, practicing technicians must be involved in designing technician training programs, and conceptions of technical education must be broadened to include translation competency. Policymakers must direct resources to developing tools for timely exchange of information and development of communities of practice. (Contains 35 references.) (MN)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce, Philadelphia, PA.
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A