a critique of the research study in which you:Evaluate the purpose statement using the Purpose Statement Checklist as a guideAnalyze alignment among the theory, problem, and purposeExplain your position on the relationship between research and social changeBe sure to support your Main Issue Post and other scholarly evidence in APA Style.use this sources Babbie, E. (2017). Basics of social research (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Chapter 4, “Research Design”Burkholder, G. J., Cox, K. A., & Crawford, L. M. (2016). The scholar-practitioner’s guide to research design. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Publishing.
Chapter 10, “Writing the Research Proposal”evaluate the article attached



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International Journal of Operations & Production Management
The role of management consultancy in implementing operations management in the
public sector
Zoe Radnor, Joe O’Mahoney,
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To cite this document:
Zoe Radnor, Joe O’Mahoney, (2013) “The role of management consultancy in implementing operations
management in the public sector”, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 33
Issue: 11/12, pp.1555-1578, https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-07-2010-0202
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The role of management
consultancy in implementing
operations management
in the public sector
Zoe Radnor
Downloaded by Walden University At 19:08 19 December 2018 (PT)
School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University,
Loughborough, UK
Joe O’Mahoney
Role of
Received 30 July 2010
Revised 13 April 2011
2 March 2012
26 March 2012
Accepted 27 March 2012
Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
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.
Keywords Public sector, Lean, Knowledge management, Process management,
Management consultancy
Paper type Research paper
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 (Boyne et al., 2003). In the UK, for example, the operational
efficiency report (HM Treasury, 2009) stipulated that potential savings of around
International Journal of Operations &
Production Management
Vol. 33 No. 11/12, 2013
pp. 1555-1578
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/IJOPM-07-2010-0202
Downloaded by Walden University At 19:08 19 December 2018 (PT)
£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) (Radnor, 2010). The evidence of the implementation of process management and
improvement methodologies includes health (Guthrie, 2006; Fillingham, 2007), central
government (Radnor and Bucci, 2007) and local government (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 (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]” (Diefenbach, 2009, p. 895). Whilst several studies have shown the impact, and
limitations, of private sector tools and methods on public sector workers (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 (Fincham, 1995;
Suddaby and Greenwood, 2001; Clegg et al., 2004; Heusinkveld and Benders, 2005; Haas,
2006) and the manner in which such consulting services are implemented in client contexts
(Fincham and Roslender, 2004; Sturdy et al., 2009; 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
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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 (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 (Boyne et al., 2003). In the UK,
18 per cent of the workforce are employed in the public sector (MacGregor, 2001) with
around half of the workforce, or 2.8 million, working in local government and
1.5 million in the health services (Massey, 2005). Over the last 15 years, under pressure
to cut costs and increase quality due to policies supported by Gershon (2004) review
and the efficiency agenda (HM Treasury, 2008), UK public sector organisations have
witnessed a transformation in their structures, strategies and management (Pollitt and
Bouckaert, 2004). Central to this transformation has been the introduction of a wide
range of service innovations from strategic tools (Llewellyn and Tappin, 2003;
Williams and Lewis, 2008) and operational transformations (Silvester et al., 2004;
Radnor and Boaden, 2008) to a more generalised shift in discourses of service and
professionalism (Davies, 2007).
In seeking to support such transformations, many public sector organisations have
turned to the expertise and legitimacy offered by management consultancies
(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 (Gross and Poor, 2008), or $57 billion (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 (MCA, 2006). The resulting impact, both positive and negative, of
consultancy innovations on the public sector has been explored in some detail by
academics (Lapsley and Oldfield, 2001; Saint-Martin, 2004; Christensen, 2005),
journalists (Craig and Brooks, 2006) and government watchdogs (National Audit
Office, 2006; 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
Role of
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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 (Saint-Martin,
2004; Craig and Brooks, 2006) (Figure 1 and Table I).
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) 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 (Savoie, 2003; 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
1,584 1,614
Figure 1.
Growth in UK public
sector spend on
consultancy (£m)
2008 fee income (£k)
Central government
Local government
NHS, exac agencies & NDPBs
Other a
Table I.
UK public sector spend
on consultants
Source: MCA (2010)
2009 fee income (£k)
% change 2008-2009
Note: Other includes: education (including further and higher education), devolved administrations,
public corporations and non-UK governments
Source: MCA (2010)
Minimum set of law constraining all business (tax,
environmental, employment, etc.)
Legislative and judicial
Most held in internally and remains confidential
Primary stakeholder
Role of information
Source: Various including Rainey et al. (1976), Allison (1997) and Box (1999)
Flexible, based on expected profit, ROI, EVA
Budgets subject to significant changes
Profit based
Managerial style matches business needs
Quicker decision making
Through clear objectives
Owners, shareholders
Legal reporting requirement
Shareholder is dominant stakeholder
General culture
Application is also measured by in/decrease in net returns
on capital invested and shareholder/economic value added
Overall goal
Authority is generally invested in one CEO
Can operate in any sector/market
Some attention on future profit
Overall direction
Private sector
Central agencies, parliament/politicians, citizen
Information generally “acquirable” (e.g. access to information laws)
Role of media
Conflicting and shifting stakeholder interests and dominance
Potential with conflict with government policy
Public media opinions influence decision making
Exposure to intense public scrutiny – “managing in a fishbowl”
Access to Information Act – managers must, and do, consider every memo, letter,
briefing note, presentation and e-mail a public document
Consideration must always be given to public perception and the potential for
political embarrassment, even for logical and sensible decisions
Relatively fixed, stable budgets
Frequently budget based on previous year plus inflationary adjustment
Government/minister establish directions
Long term frequently limited to next election
Subject to contradictory pressures
Highly adversarial relations between political parties
Direction may be at policy not administrative level
Citizen “rights”
Government managers must conform to legislation regardless of costs
Generally subject to scrutiny by legislative oversight groups or even judicial orders
Authority is often shared between senior officers/mangers and professional people
(politicians, lawyers, doctors/surgeons, academics, etc.)
Limited authority to expand/contract “sphere of operations” and to disengage from
activities which are not meeting current goals
Create and sustain citizen satisfaction
Economic, efficiency and effective
Value for money
Ethical and equitable
Values based
Risk adverse
Public sector
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Role of
Table II.
Key differences between
the private and public
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(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 (Drucker, 1993; Box, 1999). Unlike the private sector, Smith (1995)
argues public sector services must continue to operate however difficult the local
environment, sometimes delivering nationally and regionally. Furthermore, 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 (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 (Radnor and Walley, 2008). Other authors argue that
service characteristics are not an excuse for avoiding manufacturing methodologies as a
means of efficiency gains (Levitt, 1972): any organization can gain substantial benefits
from at least some new practices (Waterson and Clegg, 1997) whatever the size or sect …
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