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Edited by Markus Reihlen and Andreas Werr
Chapter 16: Institutional entrepreneurship: a literature review and analysis of the maturing consulting field
Professional service firms (PSFs) such as management consultancies, investment banks, and accounting and law firms have gained positions of strong economic and social influence in today's Western economies. The largest PSFs rival multinational corporations in turnover and employment, and many have extended their services beyond the business, politics, and nonprofit sectors (Empson, 2007b; Greenwood, Suddaby, & McDougald, 2006). Management consultants have established themselves as "the world's newest profession" (McKenna, 2006) and "market protagonists" (Faust, 2002b: 45) in knowledge economies; elite law firms act as "sanctifiers" of international business transactions whose influence in many instances supplants, rather than supplements, the role of the state (Flood, 2007), and investment banks are claiming to be doing no less than "God's work" (Arlidge, 2009). This success is to some extent a product of economic trends towards increasing knowledge intensity, servitization, globalization, and rapid innovation-however, by no means exclusively. A considerable part of PSF success is due to professionals' rhetorical and political skills actively to influence the institutional environment in which they operate. For instance, investment banks have shaped the "rules of the game" by embedding former regulators in their ranks or placing loyal employees in prominent political positions who then reinforced the myth of the inevitable "innovation cycle" and legitimized the deregulation of financial markets (Davis, 2009; Economist, 2007). Similarly, research on management fads and fashions has repeatedly recognized how management consultants strategically shape management discourse in a way that establishes their own products and innovations as sources of commercial success (Abrahamson, 1991; Benders & van Veen, 2001; Berglund & Werr, 2000; Kieser, 1997; Suddaby & Greenwood, 2001).
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