Co-constructive consulting: a pragmatic, relational constructionist approach

Jeff Neal Hicks

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

    479 Downloads (Pure)


    Management consulting is a $300 billion industry, about 70% of which is accounted for by organizational change work. These numbers aren’t especially remarkable, unless you consider that a similar percentage of change initiatives—about 70%, according to numerous studies—fail to meet their stated objectives. It’s not too difficult, in other words, to make a case for fundamental change in management and business consulting. In this dissertation, we develop an alternative approach we refer to as ‘co-constructive consulting.’ With this alternative, the focus is less on the transfer of existing knowledge, and more on the co-constructing of new knowledge that is fit-for-purpose. Client-consultant relationships are considered to be the co-constructed result of close collaboration, rather than simply a conduit for exchange between individuals. Co-constructive consulting draws from the pragmatism of Richard Rorty, the social constructionism of Ken Gergen, and the relational constructionism of Dian Marie Hosking. It makes use of practical tools and methods from sociology, psychology and anthropology, including sensemaking, framing, the notion of affordances, situated knowledge, situated learning, distributed cognition and others. These tools and methods are useful when we embrace the indeterminacy of practice and the low predictability of change outcomes, rather than seeking only to control for them; when we treat these not as risks to be minimized, but as ongoing opportunities for co-constructing and innovating.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • Hosking, Dian Marie, Supervisor, External person
    • Wilderom, Celeste P.M., Supervisor
    Award date17 Feb 2018
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-90-365-2992-1
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2010


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