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Managing knowledge in international consulting firms

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PurposeAt the pinnacle of the knowledge management hype, international consulting firms were widely viewed as the undisputed champions of the discipline. They were the ones that pioneered the development of innovative knowledge management systems, they were at the forefront of creating knowledge management cultures and they recognized the productive potential of knowledge workers. While knowledge continues to be prominent on the strategic agenda of leading consulting firms, several knowledge management challenges remain unsolved. To shed light on this matter the paper aims to investigate how knowledge management is really embedded in their organizations and with which critical issues these firms still struggle . Design/methodology/approachThe paper presents a qualitative empirical study based on 37 in-depth interviews with representatives from international consulting firms in different locations around the world. FindingsIt is found that the promise of knowledge management can only be realized if people are open to changing business processes and adopt new ways of thinking. Practical implictionsThe study sheds fresh light on the knowledge management practices that have emerged in the consulting industry, and provides insights into the interplay of people and systems, the structuring of knowledge management, the divide between knowledge generalists and specialists, and the knowledge management strategy. Originality/valueThe paper presents a general approach to embedding knowledge management along the dimensions of people, systems and business processes and develops an integrative framework that links knowledge management strategies to a typical consulting project cycle. In addition, it sheds light on individual perceptions on the benefits from knowledge management.
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Keywords: Information strategy; Knowledge management; Management consultancy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-10-23

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