The failure of consulting professionalism? A longitudinal analysis of the Institute of Management Consultants

Butler, Nick and Collins, David (2016) The failure of consulting professionalism? A longitudinal analysis of the Institute of Management Consultants. Management & Organizational History, 11 (1). pp. 48-65. ISSN 1744-9359

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/17449359.2016.1151363

Abstract

This paper offers a longitudinal analysis of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC). Drawing on archive sources, we consider the manner in which the IMC sought to institutionalize a form of expertise specific to management consultants. Rejecting attempts to locate the boundaries of such expertise within idealized, archetypal frameworks, we analyse the IMC’s attempts to secure occupational closure in the field of consulting by means of normative, cognitive and symbolic mechanisms. While others account for the Institute’s professional project as a failure consequent upon consulting’s fragmentary knowledge base, we suggest that this project did not so much fail as drift towards another ‘hybrid’ form. In an attempt (a) to account for this shift and (b) to outline its key contours, we offer an archival analysis that explores the manner in which the Institute sought to reconcile the multiple interests and competing logics that construct professionalism within the field of consulting.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Management consultants, professionalism, professional project, hybridity
Subjects: N200 Management studies
N600 Human Resource Management
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2020 13:58
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2020 14:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/43747

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