Article

Consulting to a “hurt” or “upset” organisation

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

This paper explores the emotional experience of working with an organisation which was “hurt” or “upset” by a major reorganisation. It is argued that the emotional aspects of being a consultant are under-discussed, and that an acknowledgement of the emotional effects of clients’ and organisational members’ projections is necessary in order to understand better the role, contribution and values of consultancy. The analysis is based on a recent intervention in a UK public agency. The context for the consultancy is discussed with reference to public sector change, including the growth of managerialism. The objectives of the consultancy, and the methodologies used, are outlined. The resultant data collected by the consultancy team are presented. The data are then analysed, and the emotional and relational aspects of the intervention are explored prior to a discussion of the implications of the team’s learning for the practice of consutancy.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... This research is also grounded into the phenomenology approach (Creswell, 2007;Smith et al., 2009) characterized by an experiential, introspective and reflexive stance (Beeby et al., 1999;Lundberg and Young, 2001;Miller, 1995;Poulfelt and Greiner, 2004;Quinn and Quinn, 2004;Shea and Berg, 1987;Sturdy, 1997). The four consultants acted as reflective practitioners (Schön, 1983) and participated in a process of reflection on 185 Information asymmetry in process consultation their own practices. ...
... At the same time, actors frequently complain about leaders in a changing environment displaying a lack of vision and direction, as well as paralysis in decision making. It is best to acknowledge that the role of consultants is truly situated at the confluence of all these forces and tensions (Pellegrinelli, 2002) and that they are in a position to assist both leaders and all of the employees to come to terms with this, a task that many authors deem challenging (Beeby et al., 1999;Buono et al., 1995) and paradoxical (Whittle, 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to revisit Schein’s proposed process-consultation approach as a general framework for management consulting in the light of some premises of the agency theory, namely the behavior induced by the asymmetry of information between the principal (leader-client) and the agent (consultant). Design/methodology/approach – Empirical research consisted of an in-depth, qualitative and phenomenological analysis of 13 cases of organizational intervention based on the practice of four senior consultants in a Canadian management consulting firm whose philosophy is based on organizational development principles and practices. All the cases chosen are characterized by a situation of strategic change as a result of governmental reforms in the healthcare sector between 2005 and 2008. Findings – Overall, the study shows that the relationship between leaders-clients and consultants varies from one stage to another throughout the consultation process and that the information asymmetry does not always benefit the agent as stated in the agency theory. The consultants are required to play diverse roles, either in combination or alternation, during the consultation process; the facilitator’s role, stated as the more efficient role in Schein’s perspective and the more altruistic from the point of view of the agency theory, is not necessarily the role preferred by managers. Moreover, results highlight the idiosyncrasies of healthcare organizations, namely the phenomenon of escalating indecision that comes into play during the implementation phase of change, worth taking into account in the practice and theories of management consulting. Practical implications – This analysis raises a number of questions about the general understanding and applicability of the process consultation as defined by Schein. Perhaps the four consultants have not perfectly mastered the interpersonal skills that Schein’s model presupposes. One may also conclude that the model does not always respond to the expectations and needs of leaders and managers and that, for many consultants, it is difficult to adopt only one role model throughout the consulting process. One may also question its realism in a context of interventions in public organizations, with a plurality of interest groups and ambiguity of goals, where governmental reforms are pressuring managers to control costs. Originality/value – According to Eisenhardt (1989) and Hendry (2002), the agency theory offers promising avenues if combined with other theoretical anchors such as the field of organizational behavior. This study scrutinizes the leader-consultant relationship, and more specifically the type of assistance requested by healthcare leaders as they experienced strategic change and how consultants responded to these requests.
... This research is also grounded into the phenomenology approach (Creswell, 2007;Smith et al., 2009) characterized by an experiential, introspective and reflexive stance (Beeby et al., 1999;Lundberg and Young, 2001;Miller, 1995;Poulfelt and Greiner, 2004;Quinn and Quinn, 2004;Shea and Berg, 1987;Sturdy, 1997). The four consultants acted as reflective practitioners (Schön, 1983) and participated in a process of reflection on 185 Information asymmetry in process consultation their own practices. ...
... At the same time, actors frequently complain about leaders in a changing environment displaying a lack of vision and direction, as well as paralysis in decision making. It is best to acknowledge that the role of consultants is truly situated at the confluence of all these forces and tensions (Pellegrinelli, 2002) and that they are in a position to assist both leaders and all of the employees to come to terms with this, a task that many authors deem challenging (Beeby et al., 1999;Buono et al., 1995) and paradoxical (Whittle, 2006). ...
... This research is also grounded into the phenomenology approach (Creswell, 2007;Smith et al., 2009) characterized by an experiential, introspective and reflexive stance (Beeby et al., 1999;Lundberg and Young, 2001;Miller, 1995;Poulfelt and Greiner, 2004;Quinn and Quinn, 2004;Shea and Berg, 1987;Sturdy, 1997). The four consultants acted as reflective practitioners (Schön, 1983) and participated in a process of reflection on 185 Information asymmetry in process consultation their own practices. ...
... At the same time, actors frequently complain about leaders in a changing environment displaying a lack of vision and direction, as well as paralysis in decision making. It is best to acknowledge that the role of consultants is truly situated at the confluence of all these forces and tensions (Pellegrinelli, 2002) and that they are in a position to assist both leaders and all of the employees to come to terms with this, a task that many authors deem challenging (Beeby et al., 1999;Buono et al., 1995) and paradoxical (Whittle, 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – Many criticisms questioning the role and the efficiency of business consultants have been addressed. However, although a great deal of research has been carried out on business consultancy, little has been written on business consultancy from the consultant's viewpoint. In order to gain a detailed view of the situation from an internal consultant's perspective, an investigation of how business consultants perceive their role and contribution within their clients' organisations was undertaken. Drawing on different perspectives, this study aims to demystify the role of business consultants, and to ascertain how they perceive their role within their clients' organisations. Design/methodology/approach – A series of interviews were conducted, where business consultants were asked to comment on issues related to the nature of the relationship with their clients, the pros and cons of their role and also the amount of control and discretion they exercise over the different projects in which they are engaged. Interview data from 17 business consultants from a variety of fields, such as change management, information technology, corporate finance and human resource, are analysed using an interpretive frame. Findings – The research findings reveal that differences exist between the rather pejorative conclusions of previous research and the conclusions of this study. Whereas previous research highlighted the omnipotence and the more or less deontological practice of consultants, the data analysis from this study concludes that business consultants appear very humble in their approach to their relationship with clients, and believe that moving clients forward is their ultimate goal. The findings also enable the study to demonstrate that business consultants are conscious of the amount of control and discretion that is passed on to them by clients, and do recognise that criticisms of their role can be at times justified. Originality/value – The study has value for both consultants and clients. The role determinants model presented in the study highlights the main characteristics of the role of business consultants and helps both clients and consultants to rethink their approach to the consulting process.
Article
This paper explores how collaborative decision-making can be improved through expanding decision makers’ ability to access and process information related to intellectual capital. We describe the ICS (Intellectual Capital Statement) Process, and supporting ICS toolkit developed by Partners in the InCaS EU project. We describe how they were validated in practice to provide an open, semi-structured methodology designed to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) decide on their strengths and weaknesses regarding intellectual capital and its use within the firm. We also describe the creation and emergence of InCapedia, an interactive encyclopaedia for authoring, representing, accessing and communicating anything and everything to do with intellectual capital. We show how, together, InCapedia and the ICS toolkit support both the enhancement of contextual knowledge and the development of proceduralised contexts, and thus have the potential to nurture all aspects of collaborative decision processes in SMEs. La présente étude explore la manière dont la prise de décisions partagée peut bénéficier d'une plus grande capacité des preneurs de décision à accéder et à traiter les informations liées au capital intellectuel. Les auteurs présentent le processus de bilan des connaissances développé par les partenaires du projet européen InCaS et décrivent comment cet outil a été validé sur le terrain, offrant une méthodologie ouverte et semi-structurée, créée pour aider les PME à comprendre l’usage de leur capital intellectuel, et à identifier les forces et les faiblesses de leur entreprise. L’article expose également comment InCapedia permet la création et l’émergence libre d'une encyclopédie interactive pour écrire, représenter, accéder et communiquer toutes informations sur le sujet du capital intellectuel. L’élaboration d'InCapedia et du bilan des connaissances soutien l’amélioration des savoirs contextuels et le développement de contextes procéduriers, et donc, a le potentiel de nourrir tous les aspects du processus de prise de décision partagée au sein des PME.
Article
Academics have long been accustomed to playing multiple roles (teacher, researcher, expert and critic). But as university management needs increasingly to demonstrate its relevance and value to the economy and society, so consultancy has assumed greater significance. This article explores the emerging fractures in the landscape of academic consulting, focusing on how consultancy activity impacts on research standards, and the ability of academics to maintain their critical roles as independent figures capable of holding government and other public organizations to account, so that their contribution to improving public policy can be maximized.
Article
Over a 25-year period, due to its continued under-performance, repeated efforts were made to reduce the costs and refocus the efforts of a regional office of a national agency. Eventually these efforts resulted in the office being effectively eliminated. This article argues that the processes used during organization change efforts were so flawed that they actually accentuated chronic failure. Even with highly dedicated professional staff and the desire to properly spend public money, an organization can fail in the institutional domain while still protesting and pursuing success in the client domain.
Article
This article discusses: the doctrinal content of the group of ideas known as ‘new public management’(NPM); the intellectual provenance of those ideas; explanations for their apparent persuasiveness in the 1980 s; and criticisms which have been made of the new doctrines. Particular attention is paid to the claim that NPM offers an all-purpose key to better provision of public services. This article argues that NFM has been most commonly criticized in terms of a claimed contradiction between ‘equity’ and ‘efficiency’ values, but that any critique which is to survive NPM's claim to ‘infinite reprogrammability’ must be couched in terms of possible conflicts between administrative values. The conclusion is that the ESRC'S Management in Government’ research initiative has been more valuable in helping to identify rather than to definitively answer, the key conceptual questions raised by NPM.
Article
Manfred Kets de Vries and Katharina Balazs, from a clinical perspective, suggest that insights drawn from individual change processes can be applied to the domain of organizational transformation to facilitate and speed up the process.Based on large-scale surveys, the authors explore the psychodynamics of the individual engaged in change, and translate them to organizational transformation. Given the reality of power dynamics, it is the corporate leaders who are best placed to start and subsequently develop the change process. It is suggested that a staged `focal event' and changing the corporate mindset can greatly speed up the process. Also, companies can learn that there are certain primary factors which make it easier for individuals to manage change.A major conclusion is that organizations which foster `constructive conflict' among their people will be in the best position to align with a continuously-changing business environment.
The Dynamics of the Social: Selected Essays Volume II
  • I. Menzies Lyth
In My End Is My Beginning: The Changing Context of Psychoanalytically-oriented Consultancy
  • Roberts, V.Z, Stapley, L.F.
The Personality of the Organisation – A Psycho-Dynamic Explanation of Culture and Change
  • L.F Stapley