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Exploring the dark side of consultancies' organisation of excellence: Individual strategies to manage contradictory expectations

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  • Lucie Noury

    () (CGS i3 - Centre de Gestion Scientifique i3 - MINES ParisTech - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris - PSL - PSL Research University - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Sébastien Gand

    () (CGS i3 - Centre de Gestion Scientifique i3 - MINES ParisTech - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris - PSL - PSL Research University - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Jean-Claude Sardas

    () (CGS i3 - Centre de Gestion Scientifique i3 - MINES ParisTech - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris - PSL - PSL Research University - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate how consulting professionals handle the expectations of excellence that are coming from both their clients and their firms as well as the individual strategies they go on to develop in relation with their initial motivations to join consulting and the evolution of their career. This study is based on the in-depth analysis of 25 work histories of consultants and former consultants - from junior consultant to partner - working or having worked for 12 different consulting firms. We found that consultants make a consistent description of the system they evolve in, no matter the company, in that it appears to organise excellence through the combination of a consulting ideal, multiple contradictory expectations and constant and ambiguous evaluation. We have found that depending on their initial motivations to become consultants, individuals can develop three different strategies: competition, compromise or rupture. We have then identified patterns in professional trajectories according to these 3 basic strategies. We finally discuss our results in terms of individual tenability and performance of the "Up or Out" system.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucie Noury & Sébastien Gand & Jean-Claude Sardas, 2012. "Exploring the dark side of consultancies' organisation of excellence: Individual strategies to manage contradictory expectations," Post-Print hal-00780522, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00780522
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00780522
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Maxine Robertson & Jacky Swan, 2003. "'Control - What Control?' Culture and Ambiguity Within a Knowledge Intensive Firm," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 831-858, June.
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