Critical Consulting

New Perspectives on the Management Advice Industry

Timothy Clark, Robin Fincham

Publisher: Blackwell, 2002, 283 pages

ISBN: 978-0-631-21820-3

Keywords: Consulting

Last modified: Jan. 20, 2014, 11 p.m.

This timely volume provides innovative perspectives on the management advice industry from leading contributors in critical theory, organizational behaviour, sociology, psychology, actor-network theory and narrative analysis. It addresses such fundamental questions as:

  • What is management knowledge?
  • How is it created and sold?
  • What is the role of consultants, gurus, academics in this process?
  • Does the management advice industry add value?
  • What is the nature of the client-consultant relationship?

The development of interest in the management advice industry, both within the business press and the social sciences, reflects the need to answer these questions. The critical analysis presented here evaluates what management consultants offer as well as investigating the emergence of their industry as a contemporary social phenomenon.

This volume provides the first critical evaluation of the different actors and activities that comprise the management advice sector, and will be invaluable both to those teaching courses in consultancy and to analysts who are trying to make sense of the explosion in the management knowledge industry.

    1. Introduction: The Emergence of Critical Perspectives on Consulting
      Robin Fincham and Timothy Clark
  • Part I: Setting the Scene: The Nature of Management Consultancy and Management Advice
    1. Consulting: What Should it Mean?
      Edgar H. Schein
    2. Trapped in Their Wave: The Evolution of Management Consultancies
      Matthias Kipping
    3. The Rise of Consultancy and the Prospect for Regions
      Peter Wood
    4. On Knowledge, Business Consultants and the Selling of Total Quality Management
      Karen Legge
  • Part II: The Contexts of Management Consultancy and Management Advice
    1. Virtual Stories of Virtual Working: Critical  Reflections on CTI Consultancy Discourse
      Peter Case
    2. The Vision Thing: Constructing Technology and the Future in Management Advice
      Brian P. Bloomfield and Theo Vurdubakis
    3. Front-line Diffusion: The Production and Negotiation of Knowledge Through Training Interactions
      Andrew Sturdy
    4. Knowledge Legitimation and Audience Affiliation Through Storytelling: The Example of Management Gurus
      Timothy Clark and David Greatbatch
    5. A Fantasy Theme Analysis of Three Guru-led Management Fashions
      Brad Jackson
  • Part III: Critical Reflections on Management Consultancy and Management Advice
    1. Charisma Versus Technique: Differentiation the Expertise of Management Gurus and Management Consultants
      Robin Fincham
    2. On Communication Barriers Between Management Science, Consultancies and Business Organizations
      Alfred Kieser
    3. Professionalism and Politics in Management Consultancy Work
      Mats Alvesson and Anders W. Johansson
    4. Understanding Advice: Towards a Socialogy of Management Consultancy
      Graeme Salaman
    5. What Next? More Critique of Consultants, Gurus and Managers
      Frank Heller


Critical Consulting

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Good ******* (7 out of 10)

Last modified: Jan. 20, 2014, 11 p.m.

A very interesting book about the management consulting industry and its gurus. It manages to discuss pros and cons of some examples without name-calling (not that they don't deserve some, but this is a very rigorous academic book).

Recommended for anyone that has this field as a specific interest, but better missed by someone who mostly has a generic interest in the field.


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