Management Development in Internal Consulting Units - An Exploratory Case Study in Germany
Abstract: Management development (MD) has become increasingly important as companies are finding it harder to fill their management talent gaps through external hires. However, studies have shown that most organizations are not achieving their MD objectives. Thus, alternative solutions to conventional approaches need to be found. One effective solution could lie in utilizing the MD capabilities of internal consulting units (ICUs). Thus far, research has acknowledged MD as a frequent task of ICUs but has not detailed how this development takes place or how effective it is. Therefore, this study employs an exploratory case study in a German company to examine how ICUs can effectively contribute to MD. To find answers, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 former internal consultants who moved into management positions in the ICU's parent company. The study concludes that ICUs can contribute to effective MD by capitalizing on their favorable characteristics while they could circumvent limiting characteristics through adapting formal MD methods. Further, it reveals how five ICU characteristics can affect on-the-job and off-the-job development of manager competences. The diverse consultant backgrounds and the ICU's variable project work are characteristics that can influence different MD aspects both positively and negatively. The fact that ICUs are embedded in the parent organization is a solely favorable characteristic, whereas the lack of hierarchy and the high turnover can have limiting effects on MD. Additionally, to fit the ICU context, a widely used three-skill taxonomy of manager competences needed to be extended and the classification was deemed insufficient to capture additional important MD outcomes. With these findings, this study builds a bridge between MD and ICU research and increases the understanding of MD in the context of ICUs.
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