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Management innovation through standardization: Consultants as standardizers of organizational practice

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  • Wright, Christopher
  • Sturdy, Andrew
  • Wylie, Nick
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    Abstract

    Management innovation and the consultants who promote and support it are both typically associated with the ‘new’, with departures from the norm and from standard approaches. Indeed, standardization is often seen as an impediment to innovation, especially in the current ‘post-bureaucratic’ era. This article challenges such a view, arguing that consultant-led management innovation is often highly standardized. Based upon qualitative research into internal consultancy in large business organizations, both standardizing agendas and standardized methods are identified from a range of consultant-led management innovation programs. The analysis then points to some of the structural and cultural features of organizations that lead to managers favouring incremental, standardized approaches to change, even if these are often contested. In conclusion, the article points to the need to consider a range of different dimensions in the relationship between standardization and management innovation.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

    Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 652-662

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:41:y:2012:i:3:p:652-662

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol

    Related research

    Keywords: Management innovation; Standardization; Management consultancy; Organizational change; Change methods;

    References

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    1. de Vries, Erik J., 2006. "Innovation in services in networks of organizations and in the distribution of services," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1037-1051, September.
    2. Nooteboom, B. & Vanhaverbeke, W.P.M. & Duijsters, G.M. & Gilsing, V.A. & Oord, A., 2006. "Optimal Cognitive Distance and Absorptive Capacity," Discussion Paper 2006-33, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Mol, Michael J. & Birkinshaw, Julian, 2009. "The sources of management innovation: When firms introduce new management practices," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 62(12), pages 1269-1280, December.
    4. Howells, Jeremy, 2006. "Intermediation and the role of intermediaries in innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 715-728, June.
    5. Bessant, John & Rush, Howard, 1995. "Building bridges for innovation: the role of consultants in technology transfer," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 97-114, January.
    6. Rakesh Khurana, 2007. "Introduction to From Higher Aims to Hired Hands The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession
      [From Higher Aims to Hired Hands The
      ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
    7. Benezech, Daniele & Lambert, Gilles & Lanoux, Blandine & Lerch, Christophe & Loos-Baroin, Jocelyne, 2001. "Completion of knowledge codification: an illustration through the ISO 9000 standards implementation process," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1395-1407, December.
    8. Hislop, Donald, 2002. "The client role in consultancy relations during the appropriation of technological innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 657-671, July.
    9. David, Paul A. & Rothwell, Geoffrey S., 1996. "Standardization, diversity and learning: Strategies for the coevolution of technology and industrial capacity," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 181-201.
    10. Nohria, Nitin & Gulati, Ranjay, 1997. "What is the optimum amount of organizational slack? : A study of the relationship between slack and innovation in multinational firms," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 603-611, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Peterman, Andrew & Kourula, Arno & Levitt, Raymond, 2014. "Balancing act: Government roles in an energy conservation network," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 1067-1082.

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