Exploring the Professional Identity of Management Consultants

Edited by:
Anthony F. Buono, Bentley University
Léon de Caluwé, Vrije Universiteit
Annemieke Stoppelenburg, Tilburg University and SIOO

A volume in the series: Research in Management Consulting. Editor(s): David Brian Szabla, Western Michigan University.

Published 2013

The volume is based on the presentations and discussions from the Fifth European Conference on Management Consulting sponsored by the Management Consulting Division of the Academy of Management, which took place June, 2011 at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The conference theme – Exploring the Professional Identity of Management Consultants – attempted to capture the highly ambiguous social status of this young and emerging profession. Management consulting does not have professional standards or accreditation criteria like those found in medicine or law, there are low barriers to entry, and a broad range of tasks are undertaken in the name of consulting. As a result, a crucial aspect of what constitutes such a loosely defined profession is the identity of its members. The professional identity of management consultants is continuously developing through the interplay of how consultants are seen and valued by clients as well as in the larger society, and how consultancy firms and consultants identify and position themselves.

This theme includes a variety of topics, ranging from the interaction between consultants and their clients, consultant rhetoric and self-presentation, and the plethora of books, media and public discourse on consulting, to human resource policies and practices, knowledge development activities of consultancy firms, career and life stories of consultants and consultancies, and consulting associations, accreditation bodies, and education programs. All of these factors contribute, either directly or indirectly, to identity construction in the field of management consulting.

Introduction, Anthony F. Buono, Léon de Caluwé and Annemieke Stoppelenburg. Setting the Context: Reflections on Management Consultancy in the 21st Century, J. Strikwerda. SECTION I: THE MULTIPLE IDENTITIES OF MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS. Consultant–Client Interaction: Shaping the Identity of Management Consultants, Anthony F. Buono and Flemming Poulfelt. What is Professional Competence? A Study of Assessment Criteria in Eight Professional Service Sectors, Annika Schilling and Andreas Werr. Informal Client Relationship Development by Consultants: The Star Players and the Naturals, Yvette Taminiau, Liselore Berghman, and Petra den Besten. SECTION II: CONSULTANTS AS AGENTS OF CHANGE. Conceptualizing Developmental Space for Innovating Groups, Karin Derksen, Léon de Caluwé, and Robert Jan Simons. Managers’ Perceptions of Organizational Change Skills: Within their Own Organization and Those Sought from Management Consultants, Karen Somerville and Dawn-Marie Turner. Struggling to Challenge an Informal Field Order: Professional Associations as Standard Setters, Susanna Alexius and Frida Pemer. SECTION III: ACQUIRING AND DISSEMINATING CONSULTING SKILLS. Professionalizing Practices in Advisory Work: Presenting a Conceptual Approach to Study the Relations among Institutionalization, Reflective Learning, and Quality in Consultancy, Sonja van der Arend, Bertien Broekhans, and Sebastiaan Meijer. Teaching Consulting to Academics: Reflections on Professionals Supporting an Academic Teaching Program, Sebastiaan Meijer, Geert Roovers, Tanja Verheij, and Ivo Wenzler. Skill Acquisition of Executive Coaches: A Journey Toward Mastery, John L. Bennett and Kelly D. B. Rogers. Consultant Self-Reflecting Capabilities and Client Evaluation, Elsbeth Reitsma. Far Away, So Close? An Attempt to Cross-Fertilize Consulting and Academic Worlds—Experiences of an OD World Summit, András Gelei, Balázs Heidrich and Gergely Németh. SECTION IV: SHIFTING IDENTITIES AND CHALLENGES IN MANAGEMENT CONSULTING. A Comparative Image of Management Consulting through the Magnifying Glass of Its Main Stakeholders, Valentin Bejan and Léon de Caluwé. Organizational Identity Change through International Expansion: The Case of a Scandinavian Consulting Firm’s Encounter with India, Flemming Poulfelt, Kåre Christiansen, and Irene Skovgaard Smith. Executive Coaching: An Emerging Role for Management Consultants, John L. Bennett and Mary Wayne Bush. “Moon Shots for Management”: Traditional, Systemic or Complementary Consulting for Supporting Management on their Trek to the Moon?, Andreas Drechsler, Peter Kalvelage, and Tobias Trepper. About the Authors.