Management Consultancy As Practice: A Study Of The Duality Of The Management Consultants' Role

Hartley, Jeanette (2017). Management Consultancy As Practice: A Study Of The Duality Of The Management Consultants' Role. MRes thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000cd62

Abstract

The central question addressed in this research is: “How do practicing management consultants cope with the duality of their role?” Management consultants are often responsible for internal business leadership roles as well as developing business, people and knowledge alongside client delivery (Richter et al., 2008). The research sought to understand the nature of the potentially conflicting demands of their client-facing and consultancy-facing roles on management consultants, how conflicts arise and how they are managed.

The substantive aim was to build on and extend existing studies of duality and bring a new perspective to academic knowledge relating to management consultancy. Data collection was through semi-structured interviews, observations and a limited number of documents. Grounded analysis was used to construct the data and develop a framework linking data categories and themes to existing theory. The research found that the main conflict between the consultancy-facing and client-facing demands on management consultants centred on the requirement for the physical presence of the management consultant and the incompatibility of performing consultancy related tasks on client site. Management consultants managed the conflict by performing consultancy related tasks in the evenings at weekends as far as possible. This resulted in further conflicts with achieving a work-life balance and the demands of family.

The research focused on a practice within a single mainstream global consultancy and findings cannot therefore be generalised to other management consultancies (Tsang, 2014). However, the findings may provide the basis for further research across a range of management consultancies (Kanter, 1977 cited in Bryman and Bell, 2015).

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