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Research Topic Challenge

#1 Research Topic Challenge
18/09/2010 22:50


If you were to do a Ph.D research in Management Consulting, what would be your research topic?

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#2 RE: Research Topic Challenge
19/09/2010 10:09

kelso to Bookworm (#1)

That's an interesting question...can think of lots of 'management studies' topics, but specifically management consulting...

hmmm....probably something linked to applying/exploring game theory (Nash etc) in the field.

Maybe appplying to knowledge managment/transfer. For instance, management consultants don't want to transfer too much expertise to permanent staff in their client company or they remove the need to the client to hire them. However for the best value for money many clients would like to hire a consultant, get the job done, but also learn from the experience. For a consultancy to succeed, many advertise/promote themselves as 'working in partnership' with the client, but this can only be true to some extent for their business to be sustainable. How do the conflicts of 'every man for himself' and 'partnership' balance in management consulting? Explore.

Or, (loosely linked to the same game theories), the balance between internal competition (individual consultants or individual departments within a consultancy firm competing pay/award, or resources) and corporate citizenship (i.e. collaboration /teamwork that might not reward the individual but will help the company be successful). Particularly interesting in management consulting as it is so highly competitive.

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#3 RE: Research Topic Challenge
19/09/2010 12:08

Bookworm to kelso (#2)

@kelso - You are a star! Well articulated thoughts.

Let's see what other smart guys come up with.

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#4 RE: Research Topic Challenge
20/09/2010 09:58

rc to Bookworm (#3)

consulting workforces are unusually compliant -in other words they'll cheerfully take any amount of cr*p that would have workers in other fields quitting, filing complaints or calling the union. what values and structures drive this? are the traditional attractions of variety and rapid career progression (it that iself is not a myth) that powerful? is it a carefully contrived sense of superior status (and consultants are often blissfully unaware of the way in which the clients regard them, so there's an interesting divergence of perception going on...) ?

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#5 RE: Research Topic Challenge
20/09/2010 18:21

Dave to rc (#4)

I like rc's suggestion. I'd love to read a thesis on that topic. Basically, why do such highly qualified and mobile people tolerate being micro-managed and given terrible working conditions (bad hours, mediocre pay, lack of job security, unfair hiring and firing practices, excessive travel, partners who treat them like dirt, etc)?

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#6 RE: Research Topic Challenge
20/09/2010 22:53

Research fan to Dave (#5)

You are probably making a good point rc, but is it established that consultants are deliberately treated worse than workers in traditional organisations? In my opinion, it is perhaps the inherent nature of consulting (i.e nomadic work/lifestyle) that drives the perception that consultants are not fairly treated. But isn't this the risk/inconvenience that we all sign up to when we accept a consulting job? Does it come as a surprise?

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#7 RE: Research Topic Challenge
21/09/2010 09:40

RC to Research fan (#6)

the point was about the drivers for the compliant reaction, not whether there is a difference in treatment. Ask a local council PM to work Saturday and they'll either refuse because that's when they take little Chardonnay to her tap lesson or bill time and a half. Ask a consultant and they'll ditch their mother's funeral and then not even bill the time..

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#8 RE: Research Topic Challenge
21/09/2010 12:49

Dave to RC (#7)

I agree completely with RC's very good example.

The consultant would be seemingly even more likely to oblige if he/she knew that the deadline was an artificial one and/or that the work is not urgent and is due in say 2 or 3 weeks time. They just seem to love pain. Why?

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#9 RE: Research Topic Challenge
21/09/2010 16:58

JJ to Dave (#8)

Dave & rc,

Good points but sound more like HR kind of research as opposed to core Management Consulting. What about a topic that looks at the perceived and actual value that consultants add to their clients?

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#10 RE: Research Topic Challenge
21/09/2010 17:03

Dave to JJ (#9)

I guess it would be looking at the HR aspects of the management consulting sector specifically. A most peculiar phenomenon indeed, and one that certainly requires further research and understanding in my opinion.

If he's looking for something else, then how about the rise of home working? Will big offices still exist in 50 years time? Why do we all feel the need to travel for 3 hours <b>every single day</b> when we could just pick up the phone, fire up the webcam, and/or do it by e-mail with face to face meetings taking place just every now and then? Will we all still be sleepwalking to and from huge office blocks in50 years time, to do a task that we could just as effectively do from home?

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#11 RE: Research Topic Challenge
21/09/2010 17:23

billum to Dave (#10)

an interesting area is around how consultancies organise themselves on dimensions including geography, industry, service line et al and then within the resulting multi-dimensional matrix try to establish metrics and cross-charging mechanisms that serve the clients optimally, drive strong personal performance and encourage cross-matrix collaboration. getting it wrong drives bad behaviours and/or poor client service; getting it right is a bit of a Holy Grail....

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#12 RE: Research Topic Challenge
09/11/2010 23:05

Booker to billum (#11)

Is Ph.D in Management Consulting really important? If yes, where do you think it will add most value?

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