Constituting Best Practice in Management Consulting

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Abstract

This paper offers critical reflections on the construction and propagation of ‘best practice’: a concept which has become increasingly important in the business world and in civic life more generally. Focusing upon the activities of the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), we offer an analysis of the awards process instituted to applaud ‘best practice’ in the arena of consulting. Departing from existing academic representations of the advice industry which generally exclude this trade body from the analytical frame, we consider the role that the MCA performs in the field of consulting. Situating the MCA's attempt to constitute best practice within the work of Bruno Latour, we argue that this construct depends upon the mobilization of an extended network of allies, advocates and spectators whose interactions have been written out of academic analysis. The paper concludes by proposing the need for further research designed to explore, both, the heterogeneity and the porosity of the networks that construct, convey and applaud key knowledge products such as ‘best practice’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-429
Number of pages21
JournalCulture and Organization
Volume22
Issue number5
Early online date13 Dec 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

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