The role of management consultancy

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The role of management consultancy in implementing operations management in the public sector

Post a critique of the research study in which you:

  • Evaluate the authors’ use of literature using the Use of Literature Checklist as a guide
  • Evaluate the research problem using the Problem Statement Checklist as a guide
  • Explain what it means for a research study to be justified and grounded in the literature; then, explain what it means for a problem to be original using the Litmus Test as a guide

Be sure to support your Main Issue Post and Response Post with reference to the week’s Learning Resources and other scholarly evidence in APA Style.

DOCTORAL CAPSTONE RESEARCH RESOURCE This resource is intended to assist doctoral students at the prospectus and proposal stages with developing research design components, identifying a doctoral-level research problem, writing a problem statement, and ensuring research design alignment. Early Steps in the Development of a Research Design Developing the Research Design Components Identify the discipline-specific Research Problem by reviewing recent literature related to the topic of interest. Establish the Purpose of the Study, which progresses from and addresses the research problem. Develop the Research Question(s), which helps to focus the study. Further review seminal works and current, peer-reviewed, primary sources to identify the Framework, develop hypotheses, inform design choices, etc. Determine the Methodology and Research Design, data source and instrumentation, and data analysis technique(s), that best address the research question(s). Identifying a Doctoral-Level Research Problem LITMUS TEST | Required Hallmarks for a Doctoral-Level Research Problem Discover topic/problem ideas by reviewing research findings and current practice. In Walden’s scholar-practitioner model, a research problem shows promise of contributing meaningfully to the field only if the answer to each question below is “yes.” Justified? Grounded? Rubric Standard: Justified Rubric Standard: Grounded Supported by relevant statistics, evidence, etc.; a discipline-specific puzzle that needs solving. Built on previous research; a problem framed in a theoretical or conceptual framework. Original? Doctoral-Level Research Problem Rubric Standards: Original, Meaningful Making an original contribution; reflecting a meaningful gap in research literature (PhD) or practice (professional doctorates). Amenable to Scientific Study? Rubric Standards: Feasible, Objective Framed objectively; able to be a systematic study, permitting multiple possible outcomes. _ Writing the Problem Statement From the PhD Prospectus Guide Provide a one- to two-paragraph statement that is the result of a review of research findings and current practice and that contains a description of the problem along with evidence that provides a justification that the problem is meaningful to the discipline. Therefore, problem statements need: Intro/Support Information | Problem with Evidence| Justification of Discipline Importance | Gap in the Literature Sample Problem Statement from the PhD Prospectus Guide Conducting a supervised independent research project is a unique feature of completing a doctoral degree (Lovitts, 2008; Luse, Mennecke, & Townsend, 2012). Contrary to the commonly held belief of a 50% all-but-dissertation (ABD) rate, only approximately 20% of doctoral students are unable to complete the dissertation after finishing their coursework (Lovitts, 2008; Wendler et al., 2010). The challenge of the dissertation is not a new phenomenon in higher education, but what is new is the growing number of students who complete their academic programs online (Allen & Seaman, 2007; Kumar, Johnson, & Hardemon, 2013). Although many students are ultimately successful in defining the central argument for a doctoral capstone, how this process occurs in a distributed environment has not been well researched. Highlighted in the book on doctoral education by Walker, Golde, Jones, Conklin-Bueschel, and Hutchings (2009) is the need to develop more “pedagogies of research” (p. 151) to support teaching graduate students to be scholars. Although a modest body of scholarship exists on research training in traditional programs, emerging research suggests that the online environment offers some unique challenges and opportunities for doctoral students (Baltes, Hoffman-Kipp, Lynn, & Weltzer-Ward, 2010; Kumar et al., 2013; Lim, Dannels, & Watkins, 2008). Of the many aspects of a research project, development of the problem statement is arguably a key step because it provides the rationale for the entire dissertation (Alvesson & Sandberg, 2013; Luse et al., 2012). Note: Once a doctoral-level, discipline-specific problem is identified, and an appropriate problem statement completed, you will have met 6 of the 9 Prospectus Rubric Standards. The only remaining Prospectus Rubric Standards are (a) Complete (does the prospectus contain all required elements?), (b) Impact (will the study affect positive social change), and (c) Aligned (do the various components of the research plan align overall?). Aligning the Research Design Components Required Components for a Doctoral-Level Research Design When we think about the basic components of a research design—those that must align with one another—they typically include the • • • • • • • Research Problem Statement (with social implications); Purpose Statement (e.g., “To address the research problem, the purpose of this {method/design} study is to…”); Theoretical or Conceptual Framework; Research Question(s), Method, & Design; Data Collection Tools and Sources (e.g., instrument and people, artifacts, records); Data Points (e.g., variables, questions, scales); and Data Analysis. Conceptualizing the research plan is sometimes challenging. One way to assist with this and to ensure research design alignment is to use a visual to help you see how the various parts of a research design should fit together and therefore must align with one another. For example, as presented in the graphic below, the research problem, purpose, and framework must align with all other pieces of the research design. This example had three research questions. If one research question does not appear to fit with the study purpose, it does not belong in the study design. See also, in SMRT guides: Alignment Language in the Problem, Purpose, RQ Completing a Research Design Alignment Table Using a one-page blueprint can assist with ensuring the alignment of your research design. This example of a Research Design Alignment Table is one way to visualize your design and help you stick to your plan as you write your capstone document. Research Design Alignment Table Research Problem, Purpose, and Framework Research Question(s), Method, & Design Data Collection Tools & Data Sources Provide one sentence for each. These must align with all rows. List one or more RQs, as needed; Select method; Identify design. Add or delete rows, as needed. List the instrument(s) and people, artifacts, or records that will provide the data for each RQ. Problem: RQ1: Data Points List the variables, specific interview questions, scales, etc. that will be used for each RQ. Data Analysis Briefly describe the statistical or qualitative analysis that will address each RQ. Select Method Purpose: Design: RQ2: Framework: Select Method Design: RQ3: Select Method Design: Note. The information in the left-hand column must align with all rows; and each individual RQ row must show alignment across the columns for that row. Once your Research Design Alignment Table is completed, reflect on your design alignment. Ask yourself: 1. Is there a logical progression from the research problem to the purpose of the study? 2. Does the identified framework ground the investigation into the stated problem? 3. Do the problem, purpose, and framework in the first column align with the RQ(s) (all rows)? 4. Does each RQ address the problem and align with the purpose of the study? 5. Does the information across each individual row match/align with the RQ listed for that row? • • • By row, will the variables listed address the RQ? By row, will the analysis address the RQ? By row, can the analysis be completed with the data points that will be collected? Litmus Test for a Doctoral-Level Research Problem Background on these “litmus test” questions • The distinguishing characteristic of doctoral-level research (as opposed to masters level) is that it must make an original contribution to the field. However, students may struggle to identify what will authentically contribute to their field or discipline. • The most critical step in making such a contribution is to first identify a research problem with the 4 doctoral hallmarks below. Identifying a doctoral-level research problem is “necessary, but not sufficient,” to produce doctoral-level capstone. REQUIRED DOCTORAL HALLMARKS OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM In Walden’s scholar-practitioner model, a research problem shows promise of contributing meaningfully to the field ONLY if the answer to ALL of the following questions is “yes.” 1. JUSTIFIED? Is there evidence that this problem is significant to the professional field? There must be relevant statistics (expressing an unjust inequality, financial impact, lost efficiency, etc.), documentable discrepancies (e.g., two models that are difficult to reconcile), and/or other scholarly facts that point to the significance and urgency of the problem. The problem must be an authentic “puzzle” that needs solving, not merely a topic that the researcher finds interesting. 2. GROUNDED IN THE LITERATURE? Can the problem be framed in a way that will enable the researcher to either build upon or counter the previously published findings on the topic? For most fields, this involves articulating the problem within the context of a theoretical or conceptual framework. Although there are multiple ways to ground a study in the scientific literature, the essential requirement is that the problem is framed in such a way that the new findings will have implications for the previous findings. 3. ORIGINAL? For research doctorates (Ph.D.): Does the problem reflect a meaningful gap in the research literature? For the professional doctorates (Ed.D. and D.B.A.): Does the problem describe a meaningful gap in practice? 4. AMENABLE TO SCIENTIFIC STUDY? Can a scholarly, systematic method of inquiry be applied to address the problem? The framing of the problem should not reveal bias or present a foregone conclusion. Even if the researcher has a strong opinion on the expected findings, scholarly objectivity must be maximized by framing the problem in the context of a systematic inquiry that permits multiple possible conclusions. Yes No Research Theory, Design, and Methods Walden University Problem Statement Checklist Use the following criteria to evaluate an author’s problem statement: • Is a problem identified that leads to the need for this study? • Is a rationale or justification for the problem clearly stated? • Is the problem framed in a way that is consistent with the research approach? • Does the statement convey how the study will address the problem? • Are the citations to literature current (i.e., within the past 5 years with the exception of seminal works)? © 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 1 of 1 Research Theory, Design, and Methods Walden University Use of Literature Checklist Use the following criteria to evaluate an author’s use of literature. • Look for indications of the following ways the author used literature: • Introduce a problem • Introduce a theory • Provide direction to the research questions and/or hypotheses • Compare results with existing literature or predictions • Did the author mention the problem addressed by the study? • Is the purpose of the study stated? • Are key variables in the study defined? • Is information about the sample, population, or participants provided? • Are the key results of the study summarized? • Does the author provide a critique of the literature? • Are sources cited to support points? • Are the citations to recent literature (within the past 5 years with the exception of seminal works)? • Does the literature justify the importance of the topic studied? © 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 1 of 1 The role of management consultancy in implementing operations management in the public sector Radnor, Zoe; O’Mahoney, Joe.International Journal of Operations & Production Management; Bradford Vol. 33, Iss. 11/12, (2013): 1555-1578. 1. Full text 2. Full text – PDF 3. Abstract/Details 4. References 92 Abstract TranslateAbstract Purpose – This paper reflects on the growing trend of engaging management consultancies in implementing operations management innovations in the public sector. Whilst the differences between public and private sector operations have been documented, there is a dearth of material detailing the impact of public sector engagements on the consultancies themselves and the operations management products and services they develop. Drawing on qualitative data, the paper aims to identify both the impact of operations management in the public sector and the impact of this engagement on the consultancies that are involved. Design/methodology/approach – This paper draws on rich, qualitative data from six large management consultancies, amounting to over 48 interviews. An inductive methodology sought to identify both how consultancies have adapted their operations management products and services, and why. Findings – The paper finds that the different context of the public sector provides consultants with considerable challenges when implementing operations management projects. The research shows that public services are often hampered by different cultures, structures, and managerial knowledge and investment patterns. Such constraints have an impact on both the projects being implemented and the relationship between consultants and clients. Originality/value – There are few studies that consider the implementation of operations management in the public sector and fewer still which examine the impact of public sector engagement on the products that consultancies develop. This paper aims to develop understanding in both. At a more theoretical level, the paper contributes to considering operations management through knowledge management literature in seeking to understand how consumers of management knowledge influence its producers. More Full Text • • TranslateFull text 0:00 /0:00 Trends in modern operations management Edited by Ben Clegg, Jillian MacBryde and Prasanta Dey 1 Introduction This paper seeks to contribute to the theme of this special issue by exploring the intersection of two important trends in operations management: the growing influence of management consultants on operations management methods and the increased use of such methods in the public sector. These trends intersect in a highly visible arena since the “efficiency agenda” introduced by many Western governments has, somewhat ironically, lead to a growing trend in public spending on management consultancies to help implement these reforms ([10] Boyne et al. , 2003). In the UK, for example, the operational efficiency report ([35] HM Treasury, 2009) stipulated that potential savings of around £10 billion a year should be achieved over the next three years. In order to achieve this, public sector organisations have sought to introduce a range of operations management approaches including Lean thinking, Six Sigma and business process reengineering (BPR) ([67] Radnor, 2010). The evidence of the implementation of process management and improvement methodologies includes health ([34] Guthrie, 2006; [23] Fillingham, 2007), central government ([69] Radnor and Bucci, 2007) and local government ([62] Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2005). As public sector managers rarely have the resources or skills to implement such programmes themselves, they have increasingly looked towards management consultancies to support them in their efforts ([55] MCA, 2010). A review of the literature in this area highlights (at least) two under-developed areas in our understanding of this intersection. On the one hand, there is the question of how operations management methods and tools which consultancies have often developed for the private sector translate into the public sector. Previous insights have shown that the transfer of tools, concepts and programmes from the private sector can be problematic in public sector organisations which are “based much more on values, ethical and professional concepts and have to address many more issues than [those in the private sector]” ([19] Diefenbach, 2009, p. 895). Whilst several studies have shown the impact, and limitations, of private sector tools and methods on public sector workers ([9] Boyne, 2002) there is relatively little literature that specifically focuses on the consultancy experience of such transfers. Thus, in order to gain an insight into the important contextual processes which underpin such interventions, our first research question asks: RQ1. How do operations management consultancy interventions in the public sector differ to those in the private sector? A second area of consideration concerns the impact of public sector engagements on the methods and services that consultancies develop. In the literature concerning the knowledge developed by management consultancies there has been an increasing focus on both the ways in which consultancies commodify knowledge into formal products ([24] Fincham, 1995; [80] Suddaby and Greenwood, 2001; [16] Clegg et al. , 2004; [38] Heusinkveld and Benders, 2005; [36] Haas, 2006) and the manner in which such consulting services are implemented in client contexts ([26] Fincham and Roslender, 2004; [79] Sturdy et al. , 2009; [59] Nicolai et al. , 2010). However, what has been less well understood is the way in which client-consultant interactions in different contexts have an impact on the ways in which knowledge is developed. To this end, we ask: RQ2. How does the public sector context influence the development of operations management consulting? The data to support this analysis is generated though semi-structured interviews with over 48 management consultants from six large management consultancies firms. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, we found that there were significant differences in the type and style of engagement between public and private sector organisations. These included the levels of organisational bureaucracy, the role of procurement, the skills and autonomy of client managers and their attitudes to risk. These findings are interpreted against the theoretical backdrop of the knowledge literature, specifically through a three-stage model examining client contexts, consultant-client relationships and operation management consultancy development. Our central insight is to show how the public sector context exerts a commodifying influence on the consultancy service. The findings help in creating an understanding of the development and use of operations management by consultants and, within public services. By drawing on the knowledge literature the research and paper also contributes to the much needed theoretical development of operations management ([82] Taylor and Taylor, 2009). To achieve this, the paper first provides a review of operations and process implementations in the context of the public sector showing not only that, such programmes are increasingly common but also that consultancies have growing popularity in supporting such interventions. Next, drawing on knowledge commodification literature, the paper outlines the theoretical framework used to structure our findings. Subsequently, the paper introduces the research methodology: an inductive and qualitative enquiry at six large UK consultancies undertaking process management interventions in the public sector. Using this data, the paper then identifies the changes that have occurred to consultancies, their products and the reasons why these changes have happened by reflecting on the use of operations and process management in the public sector. Finally, the paper considers the findings, arguing that the public sector engagements have an important impact on the operations management products that are generated by consultancies. This section considers how this impact might be theorised and the consequences for future research. 2 Operations and process management consultancy in the public sector The UK has been a rich source of information about public sector reform over the last two decades providing a valuable context in which to explore how and why practices are adapted or adopted across a whole institutional field ([10] Boyne et al. , 2003). In the UK, 18 per cent of the workforce are employed in the public sector ([51] MacGregor, 2001) with around half of the workforce, or 2.8 million, working in local government and 1.5 million in the health services ([53] Massey, 2005). Over the last 15 years, under pressure to cut costs and increase quality due to policies supported by [28] Gershon (2004) review and the efficiency agenda ([41] HM Treasury, 2008), UK public sector organisations have witnessed a transformation in their structures, strategies and management ([63] Pollitt and Bouckaert, 2004). Central to this transformation has been the introduction of a wide range of service innovations from strategic tools ([49] Llewellyn and Tappin, 2003; [86] Williams and Lewis, 2008) and operational transformations ([76] Silvester et al. , 2004; [68] Radnor and Boaden, 2008) to a more generalised shift in discourses of service and professionalism ([18] Davies, 2007). In seeking to support such transformations, many public sector organisations have turned to the expertise and legitimacy offered by management consultancies ([72] Saint-Martin, 2000). The result has been a growth in public spending on consultancies to the point where it now represents a global average of 19 per cent of consultancy revenues ([32] Gross and Poor, 2008), or $57 billion ([44] Kennedy Information, 2008). This represents a decade of phenomenal growth for the industry – in the UK the market grew in double digits each year 2002-2005, increasing revenue from £562 million in 2001 to £158 billion in 2005 ([54] MCA, 2006). The resulting impact, both positive and negative, of consultancy innovations on the public sector has been explored in some detail by academics ([46] Lapsley and Oldfield, 2001; [73] Saint-Martin, 2004; [12] Christensen, 2005), journalists ([17] Craig and Brooks, 2006) and government watchdogs ([58] National Audit Office, 2006; [65] Public Accounts Committee, 2007). Yet cost reductions are not the only reason for the growth in the use of consultancies. Many new governments have faced strong opposition from their own civil servants and public sector workers to proposed reforms. The use of consultants was used, in the early 2000s, as an explicit strategy to by-pass bureaucratic resistance and enable quicker reform ([73] Saint-Martin, 2004; [17] Craig and Brooks, 2006) (Figure 1 [Figure omitted. See Article Image.] and Table I [Figure omitted. See Article Image.]). There are good reasons to think that the public sector poses different challenges to consultancies than their traditional clients in the private sector. The sector posses a number of differences (Table II [Figure omitted. See Article Image.]) which, might suggest differing outcomes for both clients and consultants. Comparing the two sectors, “from the bottom up” at a basic level, managerial requirements are similar between the two sectors (e.g. management of human resources, budget, project management, service delivery, etc). However, from a “top-down” perspective, democratic values, ministerial/politics, laws and rights shape a much different picture of managerial requirements ([74] Savoie, 2003; [30] Good, 2004). Often the accepted role of the private sector is to engage in commercial enterprise, for profit. Firms are generally free to engage or not engage, purchase inputs at the market price and abandon activities at will. Principally accountable to their owners, business is held accountable by the market against several “hard” indicators especially profitability ([78] Steward and Walsh, 1994). Whereas the key purpose of public services is to undertake activities in the areas where profit cannot be made, but the interests of society demand that the activities occur ([20] Drucker, 1993; [8] Box, 1999). Unlike the private sector, [77] Smith (1995) argues public sector services must continue to operate however difficult the local environment, sometimes delivering nationally and regionally. Furthermore, [43] Kelly et al. (2002) suggest that most public sector enterprises have multiple objectives with no single “bottom-line”. Even though financial indicators and ratios are widely used in the private sector with ratios permitting comparisons between choices and market accountability within the public sector, profit is an oxymoron ([42] Johnson and Broms, 2000). Therefore, often financial indicators and ratios have limited application and receive effective little executive attention within government. This lack of use and monitoring of data could potentially have an impact on the justification of investment and resources required by operations management programmes such as Lean and will be explored later in the paper. Given the differences between the two sectors, the application of operations and process management tools without appropriate adaptation for public service organisations has been questioned ([94] Radnor and Walley, 2008). Other authors argue that service characteristics are not an excuse for avoiding manufacturing methodologies as a means of efficiency gains ([48] Levitt, 1972): any organization can gain substantial benefits from at least some new practices ([84] Waterson and Clegg, 1997) whatever the size or sector of the organization ([81] Swank, 2003). So, whilst engagement with the public sector has provided consultancies with considerably different engagements to that which they find in private arenas, the question of how this has impacted the relations of knowledge and practice has not been considered or theorised. In the next section, we draw on theories of knowledge consumption and production to suggest possibilities for progress in understanding the implementation of operations and process management into the public sector. 3 Theorising knowledge engagements The literature that seeks to understand the creation, dissemination and implementation of management knowledge has developed considerably over the last 15 years ([6] Benders et al. , 1998; [38] Heusinkveld and Benders, 2005). Within this field, consultants have been categorised, along with business schools and management gurus, as “knowledge entrepreneurs” who develop ambiguous, yet attractive products and services for consumption by a variety of users ([27] Fosstenløkken et al. , 2003; [39] Heusinkveld et al. , 2009). Consultancies specifically have been singled out for significant attention in their role in disseminating operations management innovations such as BPR, Lean and TQM ([25] Fincham, 1999; [60] O’Mahoney, 2007). Within this literature one can identify three-stages that have received attention in understanding the generation, dissemination and implementation of consultancies products in client contexts (Table III [Figure omitted. See Article Image.]). In the first-stage, academics have examined the processes of service development and noted the political and social struggles which characterise the development of new consultancy repertoires or services ([6] Benders et al. , 1998; [13] Clark, 2004; [38] Heusinkveld and Benders, 2005), for example, describing the processes of “commodification” that take place in order to make knowledge more attractive to consumers ([24] Fincham, 1995; [80] Suddaby and Greenwood, 2001). In the second-stage, studies focus on the relationships consultants have with clients emphasising both the sales activities of consultants and their interactions with clients in defining projects. These studies have not only looked at the different roles consultants as magicians ([25] Fincham, 1999), missionaries (Wright et al. , 2004) or preachers ([85] Whittle, 2006), but also emphasise the power relationships between consultants and clients that structure the interactions (Clark et al. , 1996; Wright et al. , 2004; [2] Alvesson et al. , 2009). Finally, studies examine what happens when consultancy innovations “land” at client sites and are implemented into client contexts. Here, the focus is on the political negotiations, social disruptions and translation effects that occur when implementing a new idea in a specific context ([40] Hislop, 2002; [16] Clegg et al. , 2004). What is missing from the model (Table III [Figure omitted. See Article Image.]) is the issue of reverse causality: the impact of differing client contexts and relationships on the services that consultancies develop. There are only a handful of academics that have acknowledged the possibility of reverse flows of influence in consultant – client relationships. [39] Heusinkveld et al. (2009) for example emphasise the “market scanning” activities that consultants undertake when developing new products. However, we can find no research that examines the impact of different client sectors on the products and services that operations management consultants develop. We believe therefore that studying the influence of public sector clients on the consultancies they use is an important and promising arena for investigation. In the next section, therefore, we detail the methods by which this topic was examined. 4 Methodology Our study is of an exploratory nature as we are looking into how concepts were being applied into a new context and so are interested in how contextual factors modulate that implementation and have effects upon the creation, dissemination and implementation of management knowledge. Therefore, a case-study approach was taken, as this ensures the ability to assess the organisational dynamics of the implementations at multiple levels simultaneously ([88] Yin, 1993; [83] Voss et al. , 2002). Six large consultancies were identified which have implemented process management solutions within the public sector. Three of the organisations are dedicated management consultancy firms whilst the other three deploy management consultancy as part of their portfolio of activities. However, all are and have been engaged with public sector clients and perceive them to be a growing revenue stream. Table IV [Figure omitted. See Article Image.] gives an outline of the organisations and who was interviewed. In total 48 interviews were conducted across the six organisations with senior partners, directors and consultants who had responsibility for development and delivery of operations and process management products and services in public services in order to seek how they understood themselves in their construction of the delivery of the product. All consultants interviewed had experience of both private and public sector clients. An interview schedule was developed which asked a set of questions related to the implementation of operation and process management products in general in public services and then asking about one, often Lean, in more detail. The research focused on RQ1 and RQ2 . To support this enquiry, the following interview questions were asked related to the three-stages outlined in Table III [Figure omitted. See Article Image.]. Service development – Would you describe (management consultancy offering) as a product? Give an outline of what this product is? – How has this product been amended for the public sector? Were changes intentionally planned or did changes simply evolve? – Have and do you change your language and the material used? Client relationships – Considering the implementation of (management consultancy offering): do you work differently in the public sector: in the consultancy team, in relation to your consulting company and in relation to the client? – Considering the implementation of (management consultancy offering): what different expectations do clients have of you as a person in the public and private sectors? How does this make you feel? Client contexts – Give up to three differences you have found between selling and implementing this product in the public and private sector? – What has happened to (management consultancy offering) when you have implemented it in and across clients? – Have clients spread the product within their own and to other organizations? – Did it fizzle out in some companies/sites? If so, which ones? Where necessary, these questions were followed up by delving into issues that emerged. All interviews were transcribed and additional “reflective notes” were developed during the case study. The transcribed interviews were rigorously coded and classified using the six step procedure ([66] Radnor, 2002). Radnor’s technique for analysing and interpreting data follows six key steps: topic ordering; constructing categories; reading for content; completing coded sheets; generating coded transcripts; and analysis to interpretation. [66] Radnor’s (2002) data analysis approach is designed for the researcher to code whilst allowing the qualitative data to be linked, shaped and searched. Through using this method of analysis a level of sensitivity to detail and context can be enabled, as well as accurate access to information. This method of interpretation permits rigorous searching for patterns, building of theories or explanations and grounding them in data ([22] Eisenhardt, 1989). To ensure validation of the findings case study reports were produced for each organisation which was presented to senior management. 5 Findings The findings will be presented under the key themes from the interviews and related to the stages in Table III [Figure omitted. See Article Image.]: service development, client relationships and client contexts. 5.1 Service development: products for public services We found that the majority of respondents did not feel what they offered was a “product” but an “offering” or “approach”. However, they were very clear that something was sold to a client which was often described as a set of principles and ideas enacted through a set of tools: It can be a product when we take it externally, but it’s more of a whole offering (Managing Director, Consultancy C). If you asked me to describe it in as package I’d say it was more of a philosophy (Consultant, Consultancy U). Interesting, many of consultants stated that they would like clients to see what they sell to be an offering, more than tools, a package which influences the behaviour or practices of an organisation: It’s a philosophy and way of working which is unpinned by a set of tools and techniques; so it’s more around a philosophy and principles – but there are tools (Director, Consultancy U). That’s how I would describe it, personally; a philosophy, something, reference points to be able to look to as well (Consultant, Consultancy U). When asked if the product or offering was amended for public services the answer often was that the principles or the essence of the offering stayed the same whatever the organisation. However, the tools and techniques changed depending on the client and the situation. For public services in particular there was a feeling that some translation was needed in order to create an understanding of the principles and concepts. Overall, the fundamentals of the offering were adhered to: It is the practical applications, rather than fundamental philosophies or approach that changes dramatically (Consultant, Consultancy U). The changes are more on a tool rather than on a principle level (Consultant, Consultancy P). Another important factor was the bigger role of procurement in sourcing consultancy services for the public sector ([60] O’Mahoney, 2007). Several consultants suggested that dealing with procurers, rather than client managers, meant that services became more commodified and were more focused on cost reduction: Procurers tend to force you to remove the bells and whistles [this] means you create a simpler and cheaper product […] aimed at them rather than the managers (Consultant, Consultancy A). Procurement, especially e-procurement, means sales becomes much more of a box-ticking exercise rather than a conversation […] compared to the private sector you know you’ll often be compared on cost (Partner, Consultancy A). 5.2 Client relationship management The consultants were then asked if they worked differently in public services. In particular, did they change their language and material? The responses were that although the offering did not change the vast majority felt that they changed their language and material, often just for training, to suit the need and context of the client. This was for all clients not just public services and was important to do so: Certainly your language does change. You know, you have to take time to understand the environment that you’re working in and align yourself with that environment. The material would change, as well, I guess, depending on the audience that you’re working with and the level that you’re working with (Senior Consultant, Consultancy U). Yes – to suit the need and context of the client, must change it especially the language, need to remove the jargon (Consultant, Consultancy F). Although an interesting point was raised regarding the number of reference points available for public services which was felt to be much lower than for the private sector. This meant that often material had to be co-developed: We co-developed the training so that it was fed in the right language and with the right underpinnings (Senior Consultant, Consultancy C). Regarding the expectations of the consultant and consultancy the difference in the attitude towards the consultants was mentioned time and time again. This meant for a private sector organization staff expected the consultants to deliver hard tangible benefits, to solve problems, deliver what they promised and work long hours. They often also had a greater understanding of what and why things needed changing. Whereas staff in the public sector were much more unsure why the consultants were there, wanted to learn new skills from the consultants so sometimes saw them as trainers, wanted the consultants to deliver the change away from them and were not prepared to give extra hours and time: It feels to me more like in the private sector they expect you to come in and deliver exactly what’s been sold to them, delivering all of the tools, the techniques and the training. And obviously they do have the same expectation in the public sector but they also seem to need, or want you to, engineer that change. […] Engineer the change and really […] really deliver their benefits for them. They seem challenged in doing those things for themselves (Managing Consultant, Consultancy U). In the private sector they will definitely be expecting me and the delivery team to deliver results, and, you know, they’d be quite hard-nosed about monitoring that we’re doing that. In Health, it’s less so […]. and it feels that […]. they are much more interested in building a relationship with us […]. rather than the commerciality of the relationship (Senior Consultant, Consultancy F). Again this raised a tension for the consultants between developing a more sustained approach through changing behaviours and attitudes as well as, explicitly showing the benefits of the changes: I think initially maybe private sector looked forward (using us) to help solve the burning platform not necessarily to engage. Public sector is about skills transfer (Senior Consultant, Consultancy P). In the private sector, they expect quick results. They would also be far more benefits-focussed. That’s not to say the public sector isn’t, just that it’s not quite as patently obvious (Consultant, Consultancy C). 5.3 The client context: differences in public sector consulting work Each consultant was asked to give up to three differences of selling and implementing the process management product or offering in private versus public sector organisations. Table V [Figure omitted. See Article Image.] highlights the differences noted. The table is ordered so that the difference mentioned the most is at the top and the least at the bottom. The first difference, pace, was mentioned by just over half of the consultants. Overall, there was a feeling that the pace of the change in the public sector was a lot slower and more risk adverse. The consultants felt that when selling and implementing process management approaches the focus for public services was much more about capability building developing knowledge and understanding. Whereas in the private sector the demands on the consultants were much higher, in terms of commitment, time and knowledge with a focus on achieving a tangible return on investment and a impact on the bottom line. In terms of engagement and implementation within public services it was much “more about leadership than partnership” the client wanted to be told what to do and even shown basics such as IT skills and managing meetings. Many of the consultants interviewed mentioned the lack of awareness of some of what they described as the “basic” elements of operations and process management such as defining a process, the difference between capacity and demand and, even clearly defined requirements of the customer or the process. Relating back to the product, even though the consultants said that they wanted the product to be considered as an offering/philosophy in that it was important to develop understanding regarding behaviours beyond the tools, in answering the question regarding the differences they appeared to be frustrated about the level of “softer” behavioural input they had to give in public services. In particular, they were frustrated about the engagement with the change by senior managers and leaders who in public services were perceived to be more detached. Another issue raised was regarding the outcome – in the private sector the impact was monitored more closely and by more senior people so it was easier to judge and manage level of success of the consultancy engagement. Within public services the ability and desire to track benefits was lower and less interesting to leaders which appeared to have made “selling on” (important to the consultancy) more difficult. Overall, as Table V [Figure omitted. See Article Image.] reflects, the consultants’ view which was that although the impact in the public sector was greater in terms of engaging staff and changing their behaviours, there were frustrations regarding the ability to measure or account for the level of impact or even influence the wider picture. Also the ability to implement the changes in practices originally planned or promised were not always possible due to the understanding of the staff, commitment of the leadership and span of control. When asked what the sustainability of the process management product would be in the public service the consultants recognized that they had an impact on some of the processes when they were present especially regarding time reduction and quality improvement but they also felt that regarding overall impact in terms of the offering was limited. Sustainability and developing the product further was really about having really strong local leadership which was often felt to be lacking: It’s a lot to do with the people that are involved in the Continuous Improvement team that you work with as you go through the journey internally, as to you know their networks, their ability to engage. It’s a lot to do with the senior team and how they communicate and engage down and whether they’re taking feedback up (Partner, Consultancy C). I think the main success factor is probably the leadership, which is actually one of the challenges in the leadership and commitment to it […] but that’s where the sustainability will come from (Consultant, Consultancy C). 6 Discussion This paper has presented a situation where the focus on the efficiency agenda within the public sector has led to a real rise in the trend to use operation and process management practices. To date, compared with private, there is still little written on operations management within the public sector and what there is, is mainly with regard to health ([11] Brandao de Souza, 2009; [70] Radnor et al. , 2012). Operations and process management in the public sector could be considered as a new and emerging field with the current agenda about needing to educate and develop public services professionals and managers on the effective use of OM to support effective service delivery. 6.1 Differences between public and private operations management consultancy In terms of the two research questions the first asked “how do operation management consultancy interventions in the public sector differ to those in the private sector?” The research found real differences between private and public sectors in terms of how consultancies sell work in and how they work with and manage the expectations of the clients. Consultants themselves noticed that whilst implementations varied, for example, in terms of the language used and the material deployed, many felt that the essence of the offering was not amended significantly. Yet language is important. In other studies of consultancy services, language has been shown to be crucial in translating the consultancy “idea” into an attractive proposition (Clark et al. , 2002; [31] Grint and Case, 2002). Indeed, the ambiguity inherent in consultancy propositions has been argued to be crucial in their successful application in a wide range of settings ([29] Giroux, 2006). There appears also to be a tension regarding the role of the management consultant – although they enjoyed the level of influence within public services there was frustration over the degree of their impact (especially at senior level) in relation to what they experienced in private organisations. This was felt to be because of the lack of leadership engagement and the low starting point of the engagement in terms of at times having to teach some “basic” elements of operations management. These tensions and frustrations felt are not unusual and have been noted in process improvement literature as “barriers”. Some of the barriers noted could be described as “common” for most operations management initiatives, e.g. lack of commitment from senior management, objectives that are not aligned to customer requirements, a lack of training for staff and poor selection of projects ([50] Lucey et al. , 2005; [71] Radnor et al. , 2006; [4] Antony, 2007; [61] Oakland and Tanner, 2007). However, there are some specific public sector barriers which appear to have impacted on operations management consultancy engagements and can be summarised as public sector culture and structure, lack of client understanding of business issues, and low levels of investment. 6.1.1 Public sector culture and structure The political and financial environment public sector organisations operate in can have adverse effects on operations and process improvement programmes. An example given by [91] Blair and Taylor (1998) includes a public sector service, whose need for change arose out of low customer satisfaction due to inefficient processes clogging up the supply chain. However, technical, financial and political restraints led to only a hybrid version of the old and new system being implemented. Political issues and decision making meant that, even though employees felt that they were not “being done to”, they still had vested interest in preserving as much of the status quo as possible and suggested modifications were conservative ([91] Blair and Taylor, 1998). The sectoral specific issues can impact upon the success of implementations in the public sector. [56] McNulty (2003) notes that across public sector organisations as a whole, policy and decision making is focused at the macro level and undertaken by officials, whereas practice and delivery occurs at the micro level by professionals (e.g. clinicians, academics, etc.). He describes how professional work is broken down into specialities that very rarely cross-departmental boundaries. However, professionals control the flow of work and are therefore very powerful and can resist managerial attempts to make their work more predictable, transparent and standard ([56] McNulty, 2003). Gulledge et al. (2002) point out the mandates and structure of the implementation of improvement methodologies are based on traditional “command and control” structures. The environment often driven by policy and spending reviews means the requirement to engage with operations and process management and other concepts is driven from policy and not necessarily customer facing. This structure means that operations and process improvement may not be effective as frontline staff react to the managers, measures and targets rather than the customers (Gulledge et al. , 2002). If we consider this in relation to the findings and the differences between private and public sector presented in Table II [Figure omitted. See Article Image.] it was noted that at comparing the two sectors, “from the bottom up” at a basic level, managerial requirements are similar between the two sectors. However, from a “top-down” perspective, democratic values, ministerial/politics, laws and rights, etc. shape a much different picture of managerial requirements. This appears to be holding true in terms of the findings from this research regarding management consultancy engagement, i.e. consultants are finding that they are able to impact the operations management elements at the process or even operational level but are struggling to engage and sustain engagement at a strategic level. The consultants felt that the clients had a mixed understanding of the purpose, focus of the change and customer requirements often due to the lack of leadership for the process and operations management implementation. 6.1.2 Lack of client understanding A lack of client understanding was mentioned by the management consultants interviewed as problematic in implementing successful projects, especially with regard to understanding the process, customer and the type of demand for public services. Within the literature, challenges to implementing operations and process management (particularly Lean) in government organisations have been noted to include: no guarantee of top level ownership of processes due to political leadership being transitory, top level managers having little understanding of front line processes and no single definition of who the customer is and what their requirements are ([45] Krings et al. , 2006). [64] Proudlove et al. (2008, p. 33) summarise that “of particular significance to Lean are the difficulties in identifying customers and processes in a healthcare setting and the use of clear and appropriate terminology”. It is also difficult to specify value in the public sector because some organisational functions and procedures do not contribute to value in the eyes of the customer ([37] Halachmi, 1996). It also claimed that in managing and delivering public services processes across organisational functions can be difficult, because of departmental working and a lack of alignment between business processes and IT ([33] Gulledge and Sommer, 2002). [75] Seddon and Brand (2008) outline two different types of demand – value demand (“what we are here to provide”) and failure demand (“failure to do something or do something right for the customer”). They report that in local government departments the level of failure demand can be as high as 80 per cent. Understanding the type and patterns of demand can mean the system and capacity can be designed to meet the demand thus reducing backlog and queues. Understanding demand and variation in public services and service as a whole is not as easy as in manufacturing but authors such as [96] Spear (2005) assure us that it is possible if the changes and improvements are made in manageable chunks. 6.1.3 Low investment levels Regarding sustainability, the findings indicated that as well as lack of leadership engagement there was a lack of understanding by senior leaders of the time and resources needed to transfer knowledge. This was related to the top “difference” in Table V [Figure omitted. See Article Image.] where the consultants mentioned that leaders were not prepared to take risks. By not investing in resources there is a danger of a short-term view of operations and process improvement focusing around particular departments and functional processes. [52] MacIntosh (2003) noted that in public services too many resources may be required and as a result corners may be cut. In comparing resources available to fund process improvement implementations, he outlined huge differences between the public and private sectors. These ranged from the private sector spending of millions of pounds to buy the required equipment to a lack of financial resources in the public sector in order to implement the required solution ([52] MacIntosh, 2003). Additionally, high levels of investment have to be justified and monitored for benefits realisation or “value for money”. However, the second major “difference” in Table V [Figure omitted. See Article Image.] lists “benefits” in terms of public services being more focused on “softer” rather than “harder” results. For consultancies this can be frustrating as it is then more difficult to justify the impact and result of the intervention. This finding is supported from the public sector literature where it is noted that very little is written about what and how benefit tracking systems should be developed, implemented and used ([67] Radnor, 2010). Some writers have noted that there is a perception that operations and process management practices are manufacturing-based and so are not applicable within the specific public sector environments ([5] Bane, 2002). Others have noted that within public services there can be an unwillingness to use external/private sector support ([67] Radnor, 2010). Obviously, this was not the case for the organisations which the management consultants were engaged with at a senior level but could have been an issue with the middle management and frontline staff whom the consultants had to deal with on a more regular basis. For them the reluctance to use external support may be that, other people from outside the sector would not understand their organisation. This may illustrate that managers and staff in the public sector view their organisation not as a system but as an entity which can only learn from a similar form (e.g. another local authority). 6.2 How public sector context influences operations management consultancy The second research question asked, “how does the public sector context influence the development of operations management consulting?”. Given both the importance of client demands to the generation and structuring of consultancy knowledge ([57] Morris, 2001) and the clear differences outlined above between the public and private sectors, it is perhaps to be expected that these different contexts will impact the ways in which consultancies both develop relationships with clients and develop their service propositions. Yet, as we saw earlier, the main thrust of academic research in this area considers only the flow of knowledge from consultants to clients rather than vice versa. A central contribution of this paper, which builds upon the findings detailed above, is to show how the different context of the public sector generates different expectations and interactions of consultants and clients, which in turn has an impact on the ways in which consultancies create and generate management knowledge. Thus, in addition to the flow of knowledge outlined in Table III [Figure omitted. See Article Image.] which prioritises the effect of consultancies on clients, we would argue that there is a reciprocal movement of knowledge about experiences in the client context which influences both the relationship of clients and consultants and the development of services within the consultancy (Table VI [Figure omitted. See Article Image.]). Thus, in these cases, it is possible to evidence the impact of a different public sector environment not simply on the implementation itself, but also on the consultant-client relationship and subsequently on the development of services specifically for the public sector. Central processes here include the role of procurement, which tends to lead to more commodified, simpler services designed to compete on cost, the lower skill of client staff which often leads to services designed with skills transfer built in, and finally risk adverse decision making which tends to mitigate against innovative, untested services. This finding building upon the work which stresses the importance of “horizon scanning” activities by consultancies ([39] Heusinkveld et al. , 2009) to show how the public sector context changes the processes by which management knowledge is generated and disseminated. 7 Conclusion This paper aims at highlighting the changing face of operations and process management consultancy through an analysis of the growing trend of its use in the public sector. Rather than consider the implementation within one particular public service this research has given an insight from the perspective of management consultants who are in position to compare and contrast their experiences of implementing similar operations management practices across the private and public organisations. To better understand new trends in operations management this paper asked two questions: “how do operations management consultancy interventions in the public sector differ to those in the private sector?” And “how does the public sector context influence the development of operations management consulting?”. With regard to the first question, the findings indicate that although consultants aim to implement the same overarching offering, there are some key tensions in the implementation of services in the public sector. Interestingly, many of these tensions could be argued to relate to the fundamentals of operations management in that they refer to the design, planning and control and improvement of processes. Others are much wider in terms of cultural differences related to pace, commitment of leaders and ability to track the impact. With regard to the second question, the paper showed how the differing context of public sector OM implementations has an effect “down-stream” on both the consultant-client relationship and the development of OM services within the consultancy. This finding, it was argued, is important within the context of the management knowledge literature, which tends to focus on the impact of the consultant on the client, rather than the other way around. This paper suggests that the tensions could be addressed by developing and creating a greater understanding of the factors around readiness and success for implementing operations management in the context of public services. [92] Cinite et al. (2009, p. 274) in their study on organisational readiness in the public sector found that organisations: […] should pay close attention to the behaviours of their leaders, change agents, immediate supervisors at all levels, organisational practices around the change, and how these practices impact people’s daily work. Other authors have found organisational readiness related to antecedents such as flexible policies and procedures ([21] Eby et al. , 2000), resource levels and personality attributes of leaders ([47] Lehman et al. , 2002). Whilst interesting what is relevant regarding organisational readiness when considering the implementation of OM in public services is the concept that the change is not just about the practice itself (in terms of its content) but also about engaging with and initiating change in the organisations context, structure and capacity to successfully allow the practice to be implemented. Thus, in seeking to overcome some of the barriers outlined earlier, organisational readiness develops some understanding of the “basic” elements which relate to the elements of OM, i.e. understanding how to design processes and systems, defining what the process is, what the demand types and patterns so effective planning and control can take place are as well as linking process improvement activity to strategy ([67] Radnor, 2010). From the evidence presented here it is apparent that the public sector understanding of operations management concepts are fairly low but where engagement with them is taking place the impact is high ([67] Radnor, 2010). Theoretically, there is little doubt for the need of operations and process management approaches within public services in order to address the growing demands for efficiency and effectiveness. However, in practice due to the complexities of power, span of influence and political leadership, the ability and opportunity for operations and process management to have real impact may be limited ([1] Allison, 1997; [8] Box, 1999). This research contributes to practice by suggesting that management consultants may have to change the focus of their engagement to take into account not only the operational level but also the network or strategic level. However, due to the political nature of decision making within public services coupled with the lack of leadership the challenges of this transition do not make it a lucrative prospect! The research also indicates that management consultants may need to manage the expectations of both their engagement time and the clients requirements more clearly. For example, the research strongly indicates that for some engagements there was a need to explicitly include training to develop the clients understanding of “basic” operations management concepts. They also need to be more sensitive to the public sector context in terms of the policy environment and so need to influence how benefits are measured and tracked. If the trend of using management consultants to implement operation and process management in public services is set to continue then this research indicates that management consultancies need to better suit the development, delivery and management of their products and services. The paper contributes to the discipline of operations management by drawing in other literature to develop the theoretical underpinning for the subject. Here, concepts and theories from knowledge production and consumption have been used to enhance our understanding of how operations management and management consultancy are related in the public sector. The research has not only used this to help frame the research but has also contributed to the knowledge management literature by illustrating how the context of the “consumer” of knowledge can have an important effect on the activities of the “producer”. This relationship needs to be investigated further by interviewing not only management consultants but also a selection of public sector managers and procurers. This may lead to the development of the theory further by indicating a bi-directional relationship between service development, relationships and client context. We have also shown that, in our cases, the pressures of cost meant that procurers often exerted commodifying tendencies on the product development of consultancies. It may prove fruitful to compare whether, and how, similar innovations are commodified differently for the private and public sectors. There are also implications for the operations management academic community. As constant users of public services it is important for us to find knowledge and frameworks to support both public service managers and management consultants in developing an understanding of operations management for the public sector. This needs to include carrying out research on the type and impact of operations management across the wider public sector (e.g. justice, revenue and tax, local government, police), considering the role of management consultants, as well as drawing on other literature to create a wider reference set of operations management for public sector organisations. 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(1976), “Comparing public and private organizations”, Public Administration Review, March/April, pp. 233-244. 96. Spear, S.J. (2005), “Fixing health care from the inside, today”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 83, p. 78. Further Reading 1. Clark, T. and Greatbach, D. (2002), “Knowledge legitimation and audience affiliation through storytelling: the example of management gurus”, in Clark, T. and Fincham, R. (Eds), Critical Consulting, Blackwell, Oxford. Appendix About the authors Zoe Radnor is a Professor of operations management. Her area of interest is in performance and process improvement and management in public services. Until recently, Zoe was a Management Practice Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) Fellow considering sustainability of Lean in public services. She has led research projects for the Scottish Executive, HM Revenue and Customs, HM Court Services, HealthCare, Local Government and Higher Education organisations which have evaluated how “Lean” techniques are and could be used in the public sector. She has developed a House of Lean for Public Services. She has published over 60 articles, book chapters and reports as well as presented widely on the topic to both academic and practitioner audiences. Zoe also advises and sits on a number of boards and committees for organisations such as the Welsh Assembly Government, National Audit Office and Cabinet Office. Zoe Radnor is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: Joe O’Mahoney during his PhD performed consultancy work for several clients and on passing his viva, moved into the consulting industry where he specialised in change management. His projects included process re-engineering, culture change, IT implementation and strategy work for BAE, Barclays, Energis and the Bank of Scotland. He then ran an internal consultancy team designing Europe’s largest start-up company, Three. After helping launch Three, Joe returned to academia. Joe’s research focuses on critical management studies: the application of sociological theory to organisations and their inhabitants. In recent years, he has studied the institution of ethics in the management consulting industry, trust and anxiety in organisational change: critical realist approaches and the evolution of management ideas using memetics. Joe was awarded a Management Practices Fellowship by the Advanced Institute of Management (AIM). AuthorAffiliation Zoe Radnor, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK Joe O’Mahoney, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK Illustration Figure 1: Growth in UK public sector spend on consultancy (£m) Table I: UK public sector spend on consultants Table II: Key differences between the private and public sectors Table III: A three-stage model of the effects of consultants on clients Table IV: Outline of case study management consultancies Table V: Most to least frequently mentioned differences of selling and implementing operations management in the public and private sector Table VI: A three-stage model for examining the impact of public sector clients on consultancy service development Word count: 10238 Copyright Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2013 Search ProQuest… Search button Download PDF Cite Email Print Save Add to Selected items • • Cited by (4) Documents with shared references (11289) Related items • Operations management themes, concepts and relationships: a forward retrospective of IJOPM Pilkington, Alan; Fitzgerald, Robert.International Journal of Operations & Production Management; Bradford Vol. 26, Iss. 11, (2006): 1255-1275. • A Systematic Literature Review on Recent Lean Research: State‐of‐the‐art and Future Directions Danese, Pamela; Manfè, Valeria; Romano, Pietro.International Journal of Management Reviews; Oxford Vol. 20, Iss. 2, (Apr 2018): 579-605. • Project Management Competencies Leading to Technology Implementation Success at a Community College Orcutt, Bradford.Walden University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2012. 3490586. • From theoretical concept to organizational tool for public sector improvement Ernst, Jette; Hindhede, Anette Lykke; Andersen, Vibeke.The International Journal of Public Sector Management; Bradford Vol. 31, Iss. 5, (2018): 638-652. • Operation knowledge management: Identification of knowledge objects, operation methods, and goals and means for the support function Wijnhoven, F.The Journal of the Operational Research Society; Abingdon Vol. 54, Iss. 2, (Feb 2003): 194-203. Show more related items Search with indexing terms • Subject Public sector Management consultants Product development Operations management • Location United Kingdom–UK Search Back to top • • Walden University Library • • Contact Us Terms and Conditions • • Privacy Policy • Cookie Policy Cookie Preferences • Accessibility

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