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The construction of global management consulting - a study of consultancies’ web presentations

Listed author(s):
  • Bäcklund, Jonas


    (Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University and SCORE)

  • Werr, Andreas


    (Dept. of Business Administration, Stockholm School of Economics)

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    Management consulting increasingly appears as a global endeavour as reflected in the increasing dominance of a few large, global management-consulting firms. However, features of the consulting service (e.g. its immaterial and interactional character) as well as aspects of management (e.g. its cultural anchoredness) highlight the locality of management consulting. In this paper we approach this tension between the global and the local by seeing consulting as involving the creation of generalised myths. More specifically, we ask the question: How do global consulting companies construct the viability and desirability of their services? Based on a view of management consultants as mythmakers, we study the argumentation on corporate web sites of four leading global consultancies in five different countries. Applying a framework based on the sociology of translation, we analyze the translation strategies used in making the service of global consultancies both viable and indispensable. We find that the need for consultants is to a large extent constructed through defining management as an expert activity, thus creating a need for external advisors possessing globally applicable expert knowledge. In this effort, the consultants ally with three widely spread rationalized managerial myths – the rationality myth, the globalization myth and the universality myth. We conclude, that global consulting firms are actively involved in creating and reinforcing the very same institutions, which are the prerequisites for their future success.

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    Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration with number 2001:3.

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    Length: 30 pages
    Date of creation: 20 Feb 2001
    Handle: RePEc:hhb:hastba:2001_003
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    1. Poulfelt, Flemming & Paynee, Adrian, 1994. "Management consultants: Client and consultant perspectives," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 421-436, December.
    2. Timothy Clark, 1998. "Telling Tales: Management Gurus' Narratives and the Construction of Managerial Identity," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(2), pages 137-161, March.
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