IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/vuw/vuwmba/4408.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Engineering consultant-client relationship: Transactional versus collaborative approach

Author

Listed:
  • Contreras, David Osuna

Abstract

The main focus of this study was the transactional and collaborative nature of the engineering consultant – client relationship. The aim of the study was to determine the extent to which each one of these approaches describes real life business relationships in the engineering consulting context. The study revealed that, in New Zealand, relationships between engineering consultants and their clients were mostly of a collaborative nature. However, collaborative trust-based relationships were held between individuals, not between companies. Even though clients and consultants also engage in transactional relationships, the extent of this type of relationship was significantly low. It was also found that confrontational relationships do not constitute a third framework to in understanding client-consultant relationships. This type of relationship corresponds to a circumstantial context that is more common in transactional scenarios than in collaborative ones. The decision on whether a relationship evolves depended on the client’s and consultant’s interests. Regardless of how a relationship started, whether it is a transactional or collaborative beginning, its evolution was determined by the levels of trust that were built up over time. The challenge for consulting companies lies in taking the personal relationship between consultants and their clients to a state in which the individual expertise sought by clients was transferred to the company brand. A collaborative approach had direct implications on other elements of the consulting business model such as value proposition, customers, costs and revenue. Similarly, collaborative relationships were the essence of the “key partners†element of a client’s business model. Due to the highly tailored nature of engineering consulting businesses in New Zealand, it is considered to be a type of business which is very difficult to scale. Only transactional relationships offer the option to take advantage of economies of scale as these are easier to fit into standardised procedures. It is therefore considered that collaborative relationships will not fit a business model based on economies of scale. The following recommendations are provided should either party want to nurture a collaborative relationship: • Both clients and consultants should see each other as equally powerful while working together, as power imbalances of any kind can have negative consequences for the results of consulting projects. It is also suggested to establish a clear division of roles and responsibilities as this is a critical success factor in consulting projects. • It is important that both client and consultant have as much shared input as possible during the scope of work definition. If there are any modifications to the scope of work during the project, these should be discussed with the stakeholders in order to ensure that the revised scope of work meets the expectations of both parties. • The interaction between parties during the problem solving process should be kept as open as possible to maximise the two-way flow of ideas. For clients, it is suggested to allocate as much time as possible to the technical discussion with the consultant. • If there are contracting teams involved in the negotiation process, it is important to differentiate their role from any existing relationship between individuals. • An idea is a network. Building up collaborative networks with people from different backgrounds creates the right environment for the formation of innovative ideas. It is highly recommended to use collaborative interaction as the start of a client-consultant dynamic to foster the creation of new ideas and solutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Contreras, David Osuna, 2014. "Engineering consultant-client relationship: Transactional versus collaborative approach," MBA Research Papers 4408, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:vuw:vuwmba:4408
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/handle/10063/4408
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Client consultant relationship; Transactional relationship; Collaborative relationship;
    All these keywords.

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:vuw:vuwmba:4408. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Library Technology Services). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/fcvuwnz.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.