This volume makes an important contribution to the growing literature on management consulting. It brings together international contributors from a wide variety of backgrounds and draws on recent empirical research from a diverse range of countries, consultancy firms, and client companies. The analysis focuses on three key areas. The first part of the book looks at the emergence and development of the consulting industry in different countries and time periods. The interplay between national systemic context and outside influences is stressed, and the efforts of consultants to become recognized as 'legitimate' knowledge carriers by their clients is highlighted, in competition - and sometimes cooperation - with other suppliers of management knowledge, notably academia.
The volume goes on to consider the generation, management, and validation of consulting knowledge by consultancy organizations and management gurus, showing how these activities are influenced not only by the consultancies' own characteristics in terms of size, structure, and national origin, but also by the (national and cultural) context in which they are operating, and by the role of 'gatekeepers', such as book publishers or journalists. The third part of the book focuses on the nature and dynamics of the consultancy-client relationship, focusing especially on the ways in which consultants convince managers of the need to hire outside advisors; on the reaction of those concerned in the client organization towards the consultants' recommendations; and on the methods used by the consultants to overcome the possible reluctance and resistance from within the organization.
From a more theoretical point of view, the chapters in this volume also show that research on management consulting has to take into account different levels of analysis: the consulting industry as a whole and its position relative to other knowledge providers such as academia; the specific consultancy organization and its relationships with internal and external sources of knowledge; and the particular consultancy project and notably the interplay between the consultants and the various stakeholders within and outside the client organization.