Chapter | Management Consulting | Forthcoming

Knowledge-based Innovation: Emergence and Embedding of New Practice Areas in Management Consulting Firms

by Heidi K. Gardner, N. Anand and Tim Morris

Abstract

How do innovative knowledge-based structures emerge and become embedded in organizations? We drew on theories of knowledge-intensive firms, communities of practice, and professional service firms to analyze multiple cases of new practice area creation in management consulting firms. Our qualitative analysis identified four critical generative elements: socialized agency, differentiated expertise, defensible turf, and organizational support. We demonstrate that these elements must be combined in specific pathways for knowledge-based innovative structures to emerge and embed. These pathways emerge from practitioner networks, markets for knowledge-based services, and professional firms' hierarchies. Our findings have important implications for studying innovation in the knowledge-based economy.

Keywords: Competency and Skills; Innovation and Invention; Knowledge; Organizations; Practice; Mathematical Methods; Consulting Industry;

Citation:

Gardner, Heidi K., N. Anand, and Tim Morris. "Knowledge-based Innovation: Emergence and Embedding of New Practice Areas in Management Consulting Firms." In Management Consulting, edited by Stephanos Avakian and Timothy Clark. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012.