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

Zoe Radnor (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Joe O'Mahoney (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Publication date: 11 November 2013



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.


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.


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.


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.



Radnor, Z. and O'Mahoney, J. (2013), "The role of management consultancy in implementing operations management in the public sector", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 33 No. 11/12, pp. 1555-1578.

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