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Between exploitation and control – Clients’ conceptions of the consultant-client relationship

Listed author(s):
  • Pemer, Frida


    (Center for People and Organization, Economic Research Institute)

  • Werr, Andreas


    (Center for People and Organization, Economic Research Institute)

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    During the past years, the use of management consultants has increased significantly, giving managers repeated experiences of both hiring and working with them. In an effort to understand the managers’ use of management consultants, this paper sets out to investigate managers’ conceptions of management consultants, as they are assumed to influence how consultants are used and managed. Based on the study of ten managers, four conceptions of management consultants, their roles and how they should be managed were identified, representing four different kinds of buyers of consulting services – the disappointed buyer, the trustful buyer, the strong buyer and the instrumental buyer. These conceptions and their relations to the three types of buyers found in the literature are discussed, showing that the instrumental buyer is a “new” type with no equivalent in the literature. The paper ends with a discussion of possible explanations for the distribution of the conceptions over the ten studied managers, where seven of them could be categorized as strong or instrumental buyers, and what implications this may have on how management consultants are used.

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    Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration with number 2005:4.

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    Length: 23 pages
    Date of creation: 26 Apr 2005
    Handle: RePEc:hhb:hastba:2005_004
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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. Bessant, John & Rush, Howard, 1995. "Building bridges for innovation: the role of consultants in technology transfer," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 97-114, January.
    3. Robin Fincham, 1999. "The Consultant-Client Relationship: Critical Perspectives on the Management of Organizational Change," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(3), pages 335-351, 05.
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