Liz Hartnett is a full time PhD student at the Open University Business School, based on campus in Milton Keynes, UK.
From her research, she has developed an empirically validated model of engagement between people. This model has six components of three behaviours and three conditions, components that cycle and reinforce each other. The model is a useful and practical approach to analysing, managing and controlling engagement.
Her research investigated how public sector clients engage with their external consultants on information technology projects. A purposive sample of five cases was taken in order to represent a variety of public sector organisations that used external consultants on their IT projects. The empirical research synthesises case studies of successful IT projects to deduce a potential model that may act as an ideal type of how participants may behave together. The major finding is a model of engagement developed from the literature and tested on empirical data. The model has factors that explain engagement in terms of conditions and behaviours. It provides a fresh and novel look at engagement, built on others’ work, such as knowledgeability (Orlikowski, 2002; Wenger, 2000) and materiality (Orlikowski, 2006). It supports recent work on how consultants use materials (Skovgaard-Smith, 2009) and on sense making that uses materials (Beers, Boshuizen, Kirschner, & Gijselaers, 2006; Werkman, 2010). The research findings offer management consultants and their clients a means to identify how they can deliberately alter engagement to improve a project’s process.