Problems in practice : learning from experience in management consulting
One of the strengths of experiential learning in practice is the meaning that we
give our actions and therefore our thinking.
The inquiry is a reflective account involving participative research amongst 81
management consultants in which the author functions as a researcher and as
The research explores the subjective experiences of undertaking management
consultancy and is concerned with the development of professional knowledge
and practice. The researcher positions himself at the centre of the study as he
examines the multiple ways in which management consultants reflect and learn
as they undertake their practice.
The principal aim is to assist the development of the researcher's own reflective
practice, and to explore how learning from experience can enhance the way he
undertakes management consulting.
The researcher describes his own experiences within the research project and
reflects upon the dynamics of management consultancy.
He illustrates some of the mechanismst hat underlie client-consultantd ynamics
and highlights some of the emotionally-chargedr elationshipst hat occur in client
The research involves the use of participatory approaches. During the inquiry
the researcher reflects upon his own experience, attending to his feelings and
values, and re-evaluates the experience in the light of interactions with a core
group of the participants.
His relationship to the research field and setting is that of immersion or "being
An analysis is undertaken of the participants' psychological type and Learning
Style preferences using data from self-report inventories. Comparisons are
made with previous studies about consultants and change agents.
A qualitative approach is considered for the study. This encourages
interpretative human skills and is concerned with description and interpretation
rather than with measurement and prediction.
Two extended case studies using an Action Science methodology assist the
reflective accounts amongst consultants, sponsors and clients, whose
experiencesd rawd eeplyo n their personasl elvesi n rolep erformance.
The researcher develops his own framework of learning from experience, by
linking learning style with specific processes of reflection and reflexivity, and
points the way towards a more reflexive approach in informing consultants'