Economic Advice and Rhetoric

Economic Advice and Rhetoric

Why do Consultants Perform Better than Academic Advisers?

Onno Bouwmeester

This book compares the approaches of consultants and academic advisers and provides an in-depth analysis of their advice argumentation. Both compete on the market for economic advice, with consultants enjoying a larger market share and usually obtaining higher fees. However, academics criticize them for overcharging, shallowness, and quick-and-dirty methods. So, are consultants’ clients misled or even cheated? Not necessarily. The book reveals that academics have drawbacks as well; their arguments are less balanced than those of consultants and their estimates contradict each other more.

Chapter 7: Conclusions and Discussion

Onno Bouwmeester

Subjects: business and management, management education, organisation studies, strategic management, education, management education, politics and public policy, public policy


The analysis of advice practices performed by academic advisers and consultants allows us to now compare their (dis)similarities and to see if they confirm or contradict the ethos for both professions and in both debates. The two comparisons are necessary to triangulate the results. When both cases show similar advice practices, the evidence grows that they illustrate the character of consultants and academic advisers. When these practices, as visible in advice reports, correspond with the self-reflections of both professions it is further support for the adequacy of the characterization. Differences between ethos and practice, or between the practices in the two debates, renders the results more ambiguous, but it also may point to significant statements regarding the real character of either academic advisers or consultants compared to their ethos. The results based on triangulation enable a comparison of the performance of both professions. The actual practices of advice argumentation in the debates are most important here, but whether consultants and academic advisers argue as they say they do is also relevant. A difference between ethos and practice will undermine the ethos and effect disappointing practices because they are not what the clients expect. The comparison of performances is necessary to answer the main research question that asks why the market views consultants as better than academic advisers. Apparently consultants and academic advisers do something differently. That is visible in the two cases, it is visible in their ethos, and it is visible in the way the professions characterize each...

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