Breakthrough technologies and ever-increasing customer demands are paving the way for new entrants to disrupt the traditional management industry. With their capacious resources, industry incumbents have mitigated these emergent forces by integrating digital capabilities into their arsenal of services. Without the capacity of market leaders, small and medium-sized business consultants are struggling to compete effectively. To fill this research gap, this study strove to develop a practical framework to help small- to medium-sized business consultants act more purposefully amidst growing competitive pressures.

The researcher chose a qualitative grounded theory design to collect data through face-to- face, semi-structured interview questions. Insights from 15 experts were analyzed using open,

axial, and selective coding procedures to generate theories. Six central themes emerged from the data forming the acronym KAIROS. The six themes were: (a) K = know your customers, (b) A = adopt a growth mindset, (c) I = invest in digital competencies, (d) R = reduce disruption noise, (e) O = obsess with data, and (f) S = specialize forward. The KAIROS model is a new leadership model conceptualized in terms of continuous learning and adaptation. The study concluded that the proposed set of strategies is valuable for improving the competitiveness of small- to medium-sized consulting firms against disruptive innovation, contributing to the evolving epistemology of consulting rooted in academia. Recommendations for future empirical research based on the foundation of this study are suggested.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Small business -- Management; Leadership -- Case studies; Consulting firms -- Management

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

James Rocco DellaNeve