The purpose of this paper is to describe the main obstacles for innovation in Dutch consultancy firms by focusing on the strength of informal knowledge sharing as an avenue for innovation.
This paper is the result of an empirical study based on in‐depth interviews with 29 consultants in the Netherlands.
The process of innovation can be problematic in consultancy firms. Consultants do simply not find the time to innovate, since they are mainly rewarded for client related work (billable hours). In order to innovate consultants need to share knowledge with clients, colleague consultants and their experienced superiors. The knowledge sharing routes the consultant can use, as described in this paper, are: codified, formal knowledge and informal knowledge sharing. This paper claims that the most fruitful route to innovation is informal knowledge sharing.
The importance of informal knowledge is supported by Hofstede's description of the Dutch business culture as being feminine, cultivating low power distance (low degree of inequality) and being highly individualistic. However, despite the support of the Dutch cultural setting, which supports informal knowledge sharing, this research describes the lack of management support in the innovation process as one of the main barriers to innovation.