What if we shifted the basis of consulting from knowledge to knowing?

Jeff Hicks, Padmakumar Nair, Celeste P.M. Wilderom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


In this article, we argue that a focus on the debunking of consulting knowledge has led to a disconnect between the research and the practice of management consulting. A renewed focus on consulting practice, that is, the doing of consultancy itself, affords an opportunity for bringing clients, practitioners and researchers of consulting closer together. We sketch an outline of an alternative approach to consulting practice, based not on knowledge, but on knowing, the socially situated activity whereby knowledge is applied and created. Borrowing from the practice-based theories of organizational knowledge and knowing, we explore how key aspects of consulting practice—problem solving, participation and knowledge transfer—might be handled differently when we give primacy to practice. We discuss the viability of this alternative approach, and argue that despite established relations of power and politics, the dynamic and indeterminate nature of practice environments does afford some space for this and other alternative forms of consulting practice to take hold.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-310
Number of pages22
JournalManagement learning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Practice-based theories
  • Situated knowledge
  • Consulting
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Knowing
  • Situated learning


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