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The management of consultancy knowledge: an internationally comparative analysis

Rory Donnelly (Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




The paper aims to examine whether the knowledge management practices deployed by a multinational consultancy differ according to the national context in which they are implemented and whether the practices that are deployed are effective in diffusing consultancy knowledge.


The method chosen to explore the questions was a case study of one of the “Big Four” consultancy firms, involving an intensive study of one part of the business operating in the UK and The Netherlands.


The findings revealed strong similarities over the ways in which the case study firm managed its intellectual capital in both the UK and The Netherlands. This convergence in practices supports the notion that consultancies often copy practices that have proved successful in order to avoid uncertainty and the risk of being out of step with their competitors/counterparts. In addition, the results revealed a number of problems with the practices deployed by the firm that arose as a result of the diverse set of interests that exist between consultants, their employers, and their colleagues.

Research limitations/implications

It is important to be aware of the potential affect of different national contexts because greater inter‐country differences could perhaps be observed if, for example, the UK‐side of the firm was to be compared to an Asian counterpart.


This paper makes a significant contribution to the understanding of knowledge management within global firms and sheds empirical light on debates over whether the knowledge management systems deployed by multinationals follow a universal pattern of organisation or are subject to international variation.



Donnelly, R. (2008), "The management of consultancy knowledge: an internationally comparative analysis", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 71-83.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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