How Knowledge Accumulation changed the Competitive Advantage of Strategy Consulting Firms
Research evidence confirms that the accumulation of knowledge contributes to the competitive advantage of firms. In the strategy consulting industry, one of the most knowledge-intensive professional services industries, however, established firms that exploited their knowledge accumulation by adding exploitative consulting practices have found their performance has deteriorated. To investigate this phenomenon, this paper will describe how the increasing share of exploitative practices in the strategy consulting industry has attracted both established ICT-related consulting firms and new entrants, and enabled clients to expand their problem-solving abilities. We will argue that these developments in terms of competitiveness and client competencies have reduced the attractiveness of exploitative practices for established strategy consulting firms. To analyse these developments and to provide strategic options for the established strategy consulting firms, a conceptual framework will be proposed. Based on this framework, three strategic option are identified: ‘Follow the herd’, ‘Become ambidextrous’ and ‘Back to the original focus.’ In summarizing our argument, we highlight the pros and cons of these options and the implications for top management.