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Management innovation through standardization: Consultants as standardizers of organizational practice

Author

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

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Wright, Christopher & Sturdy, Andrew & Wylie, Nick, 2012. "Management innovation through standardization: Consultants as standardizers of organizational practice," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 652-662.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:41:y:2012:i:3:p:652-662
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2011.12.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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    9. 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.
    10. 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," Introductory Chapters,in: From Higher Aims to Hired Hands The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession Princeton University Press.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:touman:v:46:y:2015:i:c:p:51-58 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Wang, Zhiqiang & Zhang, Min & Sun, Hongyi & Zhu, Guilong, 2016. "Effects of standardization and innovation on mass customization: An empirical investigation," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 48, pages 79-86.
    3. repec:spr:jknowl:v:8:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s13132-016-0414-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jordan Robert Gamble & Michael Brennan & Rodney Mcadam, 2016. "A Contemporary And Systematic Literature Review Of User-Centric Innovation: A Consumer Perspective," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 20(01), pages 1-45, January.
    5. Xie, Zongjie & Hall, Jeremy & McCarthy, Ian P. & Skitmore, Martin & Shen, Liyin, 2016. "Standardization efforts: The relationship between knowledge dimensions, search processes and innovation outcomes," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 48, pages 69-78.
    6. Martijn Hurk, 2016. "Learning to contract in public–private partnerships for road infrastructure: recent experiences in Belgium," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 49(3), pages 309-333, September.
    7. 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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