The last two decades have witnessed an exponential sprout for the management consulting industry where consultancies have been recognized for their role as modern “Knowledge Creators” due to their significant influence in shaping management practice; such capacity to influence stems from consultancies’ continuous interaction and tight relationships with client firms, business schools, and business, economics and general news media.
The present thesis examines the process by which knowledge creation occurs within management consultancies for services rendered to clients regarding Corporate Strategy. The central research issue is to understand the process of knowledge creation – how knowledge is created and what knowledge is created. Corporate strategy was chosen as a specific research focus because it is a distinguished area of management consulting where few standard tools or solutions can be proposed.
Exploring management consultancies as a knowledge creating community was based on several conceptualizations of knowledge creation developed and proposed over the years. These conceptualizations have been combined into a research model adopted for the purposes of this doctoral research. The motivation behind the use of a combined model of knowledge creation is to construct an entry point toward the exploration and understanding of consultants’ knowledge creation practices, as opposed to comparing or criticizing consulting knowledge. The empirical research was conducted focusing explicitly on a group of informants who are practicing consultants in MENA and GCC countries. The data was collected through an online qualitative survey supported by a dedicated software and was analyzed qualitatively in search of patterns in consultants’ knowledge creation practices and the role of community belonging to knowledge creation.
The question of whether consultants create knowledge in terms of corporate strategy cannot be answered by absolute confirmation (yes) or negation (no); rather, the answer to such a question should be probed taking into consideration that knowledge creation is correlated with the affecting contingency factors and the context of the consulting process. Hence, the different contingency combinations and the consulting process phase lead to different results, be it knowledge creation, knowledge internalization, or knowledge exploitation. Nevertheless, results confirm that consultants share common understandings and paradigms that make particular consulting firms excel and reach a larger group of consultants. Management consultants in large international firms and in small local firms alike first look at past experiences and old cases when handling a new assignment. The results of the study prove that creation of knowledge associated with corporate strategy does occur at the end of each assignment in the sense that findings and emerging learning from the assignment are sanitized and internalized into the consulting firm, resulting in eit