A Contextual Innovation and Process Investigation of an International Student Entrepreneurial Organization

Ryan Edward Lake, Jessica Brooke Altenberg, Arin Rzonca, Kariem Hashem, Ann Perry Witmer

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Contextual project design is a process of applying sociological thinking to technical decision-making in order to create a project that better suits the context in which it will be used. While introduced in an international engineering setting, Contextual Innovation and Process (CIP) has become a method that now is applied to engineering and entrepreneurship projects, both international and domestic. Our research focuses on applying CIP to an international student entrepreneurial organization on the macro and micro scale. The intent of the research is to advise organization leadership on how to achieve more satisfactory outcomes for the stakeholders engaged in the student entrepreneurial projects. The macro scale examines the organization’s structure in the United States and how it interacts with and guides its university chapters; the micro scale applies CIP investigation to a student-led entrepreneurship project within one of those university chapters. To conduct our research, we interviewed students and leaders both within the organization and its chapters, then closely observed one particular project from conception. Our preliminary findings suggest that the structure of the organization defines and promotes particular student motivations and levels of involvement, which in turn significantly affects both the impact of a project and the student experience. But without chapter-level professional guidance, students fail to complete the projects that align with the stated goals of the national organization. Further complicating the achievement of stated objectives, we have encountered unstated objectives within the organization that potentially conflict with student motivations. While stated objectives are overtly promoted through organizational guidance and procedures, unstated objectives are more attractive to participants’ personal needs and are not acknowledged in organizational literature. From this we have learned that it is important to evaluate the multiplicity of drivers — both stated and unstated — before an organization can determine whether it is successful in meeting the needs of the participants and the organization as a whole.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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