Assessing the Role of Management Consultants in Creating a Valuable Service to Clients Through Knowledge

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Abstract

This paper examines, from a critical perspective, the nature of management consultancy and the way consultants contribute to the organisational performance of their clients. It addresses the issue of management knowledge creation as the basis for the growth of the consultancy industry and it then questions how such knowledge is currently communicated through a codified product that is often expressed through consultancy packages. The paper questions whether this approach creates a valuable service, and it then introduces the term of substantiation of knowledge as one way of assessing the assumed valuable contribution to clients. Finally, it recognises the social aspects of the consultant-client interaction, which are outside the immediate performance results anticipated by the clients. Given the limitations of the consultancy packages and the difficulty in substantiating knowledge to the individual and unique needs of the clients, the argument of this paper is that consultants do not provide a valuable service solely on the basis of their knowledge. Consultants manage to create a managerial identity that they project against their clients’ needs in order to reduce their anxieties and degree of uncertainty. The paper emphasises the social aspects, management consultants cover through their services, and which are often found outside the organisational matrix of managers. In this sense, clients may perceive that receive a valuable service not because of concrete performance results but because they are influenced by the culture of their broader social environment. Examples of this influence are, firstly, when clients want to associate their organisations with the prestigious image of the consultants, secondly, when clients want to attain the present fashionable consultancy packages, and thirdly, when clients want to reaffirm their own identities, as managers, for the challenging decisions that have to be made in their firms. Even though the demand for consultancy services will still remain in the future, we highlight the reasons that clients should be cautious in using them and become aware of what they want to achieve through them. Keywords: Management Consultancy, Knowledge, Codification and Distribution of Knowledge
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Information Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
EditorsPanagiotis Petratos
Place of PublicationAthens, Greece
PublisherAthens Institute of Education and Research
Pages25-44
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9608833108
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2004

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