Management innovation through standardization: Consultants as standardizers of organizational practice
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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