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Edited by David Rooney, Greg Hearn and Abraham Ninan
Chapter 18: Inexperience and Inefficiency in Information Transactions: Making the Most of Management Consultants
Stuart Macdonald Experience with management consultants There can be few organizations of any size, in any sector of a developed economy, that have not at some time hired management consultants. The management consultant is a creature of the knowledge-based economy. On the face of it, the function the consultant performs in this economy is simple and selfevident: the consultant sells the client the information required to manage the organization. But information transactions are seldom simple and this one is no exception. In this chapter, an information perspective, rather than the conventional management perspective, is applied to explore just what is going on. While there is much the organization can gain from management consultants, there are also problems inherent in hiring them, often deep-rooted and seldom acknowledged. Management consultants can easily become addictive, each successive consultancy increasingly likely to lead to another. Management consultancy can as easily become incestuous, consultants being hired because other managers hire them. And management consultants can encourage dependency, managers desperate to meet the expectations made of them hiring consultants and finding that this only increases the expectations. Together, these ingredients make a powerful cocktail, and yet its effects are not often appreciated. The explanation would seem to be that management consultants are now so pervasive that it is hard to remember ever being without them. To be sure, there is dissatisfaction with the performance of management consultants (e.g. Dwyer 1993), and consequently prescriptive tips galore on how to get more from your management consultant. Generally, the...
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