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Management Consultancy

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Management Consultancy

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During the last decade of the twentieth century the management consultancy industry has seen an extraordinary growth, particularly in the Western Europe and in the USA, which has overall led to increased investigation into the sector. Glücker’s study (1999) of 1600 companies clarifies that organizations now hire increasingly more than before because, as a primary reason, they have “lack of experience in certain problem areas” (66%), feel the need for “impartiality of external viewpoint” (49%), believe that is essential “to learn from other firms” (48%) in order to progress and lead the market, and seek for “new ideas” (46%). Even if there is no perfect definition, management consultancy has always been seen, according to Micklethwaite and Wooldridge (1996), as the “management knowledge industry”, where “expert outsiders” bring new knowledge to “organizational insiders”, providing “independent expert advice” and “change facilitation”. However, for the last years, experts such as Berger (1963) reached the agreement that this view has become a largely taken-for-granted and persistent assumption about client-consultant relationships. Therefore, having the previous statement as a starting point, throughout this essay, the working methods of consultants and their relationships with clients, as well as some relevant study cases, will be evaluated in order to demystify the management consultants’ impact on the organizations by which they are hired.

Armbrüster (2006: 54) states that “consultants have the ability to gain experience, expertise, methods and tools in one industry or organization and then apply them in another”, indicating this way that they are not really “generators of knowledge” (Thrift, 2005: 35-6) and that their knowledge is strictly experience based. What also points in this same direction are the conclusions drawn from interviews with the CEO’s of the ten largest Swedish companies (Engwall and Eriksson, 1999) which indicate that seven out of ten...