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Soft skill investment

Let junior consultants collaborate and innovate, say business researchers

Research

By Susan White

Leaders at Memorial’s business faculty recognized a study that has implications for managers at global consulting firms for its practical impact.

Dr. Chansoo Park and Dr. Tom Cooper received the Faculty of Business Administration Advisory Board Research Impact Award for 2022.

Dr. Chansoo Park and Dr. Tom Cooper stand against a background of flags from countries around the world.
From left, Dr. Chansoo Park and Dr. Tom Cooper have been studying consultancy in multinational firms.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Their paper, Knowledge Creation Capability and the Impact on Innovation Performance in Global Consulting Firms: The Role of Human and Social Capital, was published in the prestigious academic journal, the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences.

Dr. Park is an associate professor of international business. Dr. Cooper is a professor of strategy with private sector experience in consulting.

Dr. Yang Pok Rhee of Dong-A University in South Korea is a co-author on the study.

‘Authenticity and relevance’

“We’re absolutely thrilled and deeply honoured to be this year’s recipients of the Advisory Board Research Impact Award,” said Dr. Park.

The researchers surveyed 172 consultants in subsidiaries of multinational management consulting firms in South Korea, lending “unique authenticity and relevance to our research,” said Dr. Park.

“Our research highlights the crucial, but often underestimated, role of tacit knowledge in driving innovation performance,” Dr. Cooper said. “It calls for a rethinking in the way global consulting firms approach knowledge creation and workforce development.”

Tacit knowledge includes skills such as managing people and teams, building relationships, leading projects and more.

“It’s as much about the process as the knowledge,” said Dr. Cooper.

However, it’s a form of knowledge that’s under-valued by firms and by consultants themselves who typically gain this skill set through years of experience on the job.

Real-world impact

Drs. Park and Cooper argue consultants should invest in developing these skills earlier in their careers and that firms should support this type of training.

Their study demonstrates that explicit knowledge creation doesn’t substantially impact innovation performance.

“We believe our insights will help organizations maximize their innovative potential and gain a competitive edge.” — Dr. Chansoo Park

Dr. Park and Dr. Cooper believe their findings suggest that senior consultants may be more successful as managers, while junior consultants may be effective innovators.

They say firms should recognize the value of experience and be less prescriptive, allowing junior consultants to collaborate with clients earlier in their careers to help generate innovative solutions.

“Our research should encourage managers to prioritize tacit knowledge creation in recruitment and training processes,” said Dr. Park. “We believe our insights will help organizations maximize their innovative potential and gain a competitive edge.”

The business faculty’s advisory board is comprised of business and organizational leaders across a variety of sectors, as well as members of the university community.

The research impact award recognizes practical research impact on teaching, practice or policy.


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