Meet the winners of the Consulting Research Awards 2021

07 December 2021 4 min. read
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The annual CMCE Consulting Research Awards have celebrated international research in consulting, via a digital event. Academics were praised for the production of a series of papers which the judges asserted are excellent learning materials for consultants.

Based in London, the Centre for Management Consulting Excellence (CMCE) works to promote sharing of academic research and practitioner experience in the management consulting community. The firm’s CMCE Consulting Research Awards aims to encourage the application of research to consultancy and recognise outstanding research work.

The winners of the third annual edition of the Awards have been announced during an online ceremony in November, on a night celebrating the quality and insightfulness of this year’s submissions. After the CMCE assessed a variety of research papers considered “instrumental in helping the consulting community identify and implement new ideas and innovative approaches” in challenging times, prizes were distributed in three categories, as well as for the prestigious Urwick Cup.

CMCE Research Awards 2021 winners revealed

First, in the Technology and Consulting category, academics Abayomi Baiyere, Hannu Salmela, and Tommi Tapanainen claimed the Award for their paper ’Digital transformation and the new logics of business process management’. Published in European Journal of Information Systems, the judges felt that the paper proposed a useful model that went beyond digital transformation and change and would help organisations getting stuck in “digital concrete”.

Meanwhile, the Client Relationships category saw Michael J. Gill, Gerry McGivern, Andrew Sturdy, Sandra Pereira, David J. Gill, Sue Dopson handed the top prize for their paper ‘Negotiating imitation: Examining the interactions of consultants and their clients to understand institutionalization as translation’. The paper appeared in the British Journal of Management, with panel judge Calvert Markham – a former teacher of consulting skills – praising the paper, noting it should be included in the training of management consultants.

Finally, the Changing Environment for the Consultant category saw Denis Fischbacher-Smith lauded for his paper ‘Managing the threats from insiders: Systems ergonomics and strategy as a practice’. The paper was presented at the Strategy as Practice Track at the British Academy of Management Annual Conference 2020, and concerned a security threat that was often ignored, while highlighting the role that management consultants could play in helping clients understand it better.

Commenting on this year’s awards, Nick Bush, Director of CMCE said “I’m delighted that we had such a strong field of papers to choose from this year. All the award winners and the finalists had something insightful to offer the world of management consulting. We look forward to building on these insights and taking the debate forward about what constitutes excellence in consulting in the coming months.”

Urwick Cup

Named in honour of the life and work of management consultant, writer and educator Colonel Lyndall Fownes Urwick – founder of Urwick Orr Management Consultants – the Urwick Cup sees the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants identify industry changing research in the UK. A panel of academics and others active in the area of management consultancy select a shortlist for the award of the Cup, and the authors of these papers are invited to make a short submission to the Company’s Assessment Panel explaining how the research meets the criteria for the prize, from which the Assessment Panel selects the winner.

In 2021, with sustainability at the forefront of the business agenda, the Urwick Cup has been awarded to a paper that most supports consultants in delivering against Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) goals. The paper ‘Elitism in Strategy Consulting’ by Prof Joe O’Mahoney and Ioanna Mavridopoulou, published in the Management Consulting Journal was considered by the judges to provide breakthrough thinking in an area of diversity that had hitherto not been examined and therefore could have significant impact on the recruitment approaches in future.

Last year, Accenture picked up the prestigious award. In view of the ongoing restrictions due to Covid-19, the judging of the 2020 Urwick Award focused heavily on how the management consulting industry has contributed to the nation's response to the pandemic. The consultancy was subsequently named as the winner of the Urwick Cup for its role working with a consortium of leading aerospace and engineering businesses producing ventilators for the NHS.