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Critically exploring business engagement in academia: the case of the UK consulting industry

By Joseph O'Mahoney and Richard Adams


In Western countries, policy makers are increasingly encouraging a research agenda in the academy\ud which privileges impact on practice and engagement with industry. Nowhere is this more prevalent than\ud in business schools, and engagement is sought in few industries more than that of management\ud consultancy. This paper seeks to explore the success, failure and potential of the UK academy in\ud engaging with the priorities of the consulting industry. Using interviews with partners and senior\ud stakeholders in the industry, the paper first traces the key challenges facing the consultancy industry in\ud the UK. Using a comprehensive review of the literature, the paper then examines the extent to which\ud exhortations for academic research to follow business priorities have been achieved. The findings\ud suggest that engagement with industry’s perceived challenges has been limited. However, the paper\ud goes on to argue that whilst the academe has developed little engagement with the managerialist\ud priorities of the industry, it is developing a rich engagement with the deeper issues which underpin the\ud industry including a strong social and moral critique which may contribute towards the long‐term\ud survival of the industry

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