Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the reasons why public sector managers approacheither consultants or academics for their help in solving problems related to public sector accountingand management reforms.
Design/methodology/approach – A field study based on reactions to real-life constructs andanswers to questions about the experiences of public sector managers in Italian, Dutch and Swedishcentral government agencies.
Findings – Public sector managers approach consultants, due to their experience-based knowledge,for solving well-defined practical and technical problems. In the case of tacit knowledge, a stronginteraction between the public sector manager and the consultant, denoted as socialization, is thetypical way of knowledge transfer. In accordance with expectations, public sector managers approachacademics for advice regarding value-laden problems in their organization. However, academics also give advice about practical and technical issues, usually being the primary domain of consultants, butoften when impartial advice is required. Although the authors expected academics to transferknowledge rather detached from their clients (interiorization), this was not corroborated, because oftenacademics work closely with their counterparts in the client organization.Research limitations/implications – The theoretical framework was helpful in explaining therole of consultants, but it required refinement in explaining the role of academics as external experts.
Practical implications – The paper contributes to a better articulated set of preferences of publicsector managers in asking advice from either a consultant or an academic.
Originality/value – The paper offers a simultaneous and systematic empirical examination of theroles that consultants and academics play in public sector management and accounting reforms.
Keywords Consultants, Academic advisors, Public sector accounting and management, Accounting,Public sector accounting, Italy, Sweden, The Netherlands
Paper type Research paper
2012. Vol. 9, no 3, 205-227 p.