Developing New Consulting Practices: A multiple case study of innovation in management consultancies

Martin Palmqvist & Sindre Fjeld Raaum

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the scarcely explored topic of innovation in management consultancies by offering a more holistic understanding of how it occurs. Specifically, we have sought develop a conceptual model of how consultancies develop new consulting practices, as well as a conceptual model of the organizational factors that impact their ability to do so. Both of these aspects are underresearched in current literature. Our research is based on an exploratory and abductive research strategy, as we have deemed this to be a suitable approaching for engaging with a research field that is characterized by sparse and scattered insights. We have collected, reviewed, and assembled current literature in a theoretical framework that serves as the basis for a multiple case study of five Danish management consultancies. By investigating our topic in several organizational contexts and interpreting the resulting empirical data in light of our theoretical framework, we arrive at the conceptual models mentioned above. Our core findings revolve around what we have identified as an informal and dispersed nature of innovation in consultancies, where practice development is up to the individual choices and efforts of consultants. We have labeled this the laissez-faire paradigm. Within this paradigm, we find that innovation is usually happened upon serendipitously, although it may also result from active ideation and prototyping. These two approaches are the foundation of our conceptual model of practice development. Moreover, due to the aforementioned informal and dispersed nature of innovation, we find that a range of different organizational factors must be considered in order to understand the organizational conditions that impact innovation either positively or negatively, including incentives, time for development, management support, strategy, and a host of different knowledge channels. These are the foundation for our conceptual model of organizational impact factors.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015