Skip to content

Negotiating Imitation: Examining the Interactions of Consultants and Clients to Understand Institutionalization as Translation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Early online date9 Jun 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 6 May 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 9 Jun 2019


Organizational scholars increasingly view institutionalization as a process through which actors adapt or translate seemingly successful practices in a field to create variations that are specific to their own organization. Yet little is known about how outsiders who seek to diffuse ‘best practice’ affect translation. We examined interactions between management consultants and their clients in two different consulting projects, which focused on embedding the practice of ‘lean’ in one and the practice of a quality improvement framework in the other. Our findings provide insights into the processes of translation through which promoters and adopters iterate at different stages to reach a compromise, illuminating how the evolution of an imported practice signals the outcome of a negotiation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that management practices are not translated in isolation but enveloped by peripheral practices that are adopted by association. We highlight how the peripheral practice of benchmarking, in both cases, was rarely contested or negotiated and thus proved more resistant to translation. Our analysis allows us to unpack the agency inherent within translation-as-negotiation and integrate research on diffusion and translation.

    Research areas

  • Adaptation, best practice, management consultants, consultant-client interactions, benchmarking, management innovation, translation-as-negotiation



  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Wiley at . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 626 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 9/06/21

    Request copy


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups