Consultant engagement in advanced technology transfers: An exploratory study in a new technological context
Background and problem: Organisations are increasingly aspiring to become digital leaders. At some point, organisations may consider bringing in external sources, such as consultants, to help establish technological competence and to implement new technology. Research has discussed both positive and negative aspects of bringing in consultants. However, much of this research was conducted during a time when technology advancements were dominated by production technology and techniques. Since then, technology has changed, and it is relevant to revisit consultant engagement in relation to advanced technology transfers. Purpose: To investigate whether, and how, consultants are attentive to contextual complexities surrounding advanced technology transfers. Research questions: I. From the perspective of consultants, what are potential issues in advanced technology transfers? II. How are contextual complexities surrounding advanced technology transfers managed? Theoretical frame: A literature review on positive and negative perspectives on consultant involvement. In addition, research that shows the complexities in data science and big data, i.e. advanced technology, how organisations are affected by these, and how contextual complexities are constructed. The theoretical frame is completed with Hardy’s (1996) power framework in order to assess whether consultants are aware of different powers in play in a change process, and thus attentive to contextual complexities. Method and data: A qualitative study based on interviews with employees in a consultancy firm specialising in business intelligence, digitalisation, and data science. Three interviews with management consultants, two with data scientists, and one with the head of sales. Discussion and conclusions: Advanced technology transfers are not accomplished by traditional consultants in isolation, rather it is executed and facilitated by interaction and continuous sharing of knowledge through a chain of people, including clients and consultants. While management consultants seem to manage traditional parts of projects, data scientists operate as a link between the organisational expertise and management consultants. Through investigating consultant involvement in this new technological context, this study can provide an alternative view of the role of consultants. Firstly, findings indicate that the simplistic view of consultants as simply handing over predetermined solutions have, in this new context of advanced technology transfer, lost its relevance. Secondly, the prevalent notion in prior research suggesting consultants are not engaging in technology transfers does not seem relevant in the context of advanced technology transfer. Thirdly, data scientists can provide a different view on the role of consultants.
MSc in Accounting