Scandinavian Working Papers in Business Administration

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 2001:3: The construction of global management consulting - a study of consultancies’ web presentations

Jonas Bäcklund () and Andreas Werr ()
Additional contact information
Jonas Bäcklund: Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University and SCORE, Postal: SCORE , S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Andreas Werr: Dept. of Business Administration, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, S-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Management consulting increasingly appears as a global endeavour as reflected in the increasing dominance of a few large, global management-consulting firms. However, features of the consulting service (e.g. its immaterial and interactional character) as well as aspects of management (e.g. its cultural anchoredness) highlight the locality of management consulting. In this paper we approach this tension between the global and the local by seeing consulting as involving the creation of generalised myths. More specifically, we ask the question: How do global consulting companies construct the viability and desirability of their services? Based on a view of management consultants as mythmakers, we study the argumentation on corporate web sites of four leading global consultancies in five different countries. Applying a framework based on the sociology of translation, we analyze the translation strategies used in making the service of global consultancies both viable and indispensable. We find that the need for consultants is to a large extent constructed through defining management as an expert activity, thus creating a need for external advisors possessing globally applicable expert knowledge. In this effort, the consultants ally with three widely spread rationalized managerial myths – the rationality myth, the globalization myth and the universality myth. We conclude, that global consulting firms are actively involved in creating and reinforcing the very same institutions, which are the prerequisites for their future success.

Keywords: management consulting; globalization; myth making

30 pages, February 20, 2001

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