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From Management Consulting to Strategic Communication: Studying the Roles and Functions of Communication Consulting

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International Journal of Strategic
Communication
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From Management Consulting to
Strategic Communication: Studying the
Roles and Functions of Communication
Consulting
Finn Frandsen a , Winni Johansen a & Augustine Pang b
a Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
b Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Version of record first published: 21 Mar 2013.
To cite this article: Finn Frandsen , Winni Johansen & Augustine Pang (2013): From Management
Consulting to Strategic Communication: Studying the Roles and Functions of Communication
Consulting, International Journal of Strategic Communication, 7:2, 81-83
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1553118X.2013.765439
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International Journal of Strategic Communication, 7: 81–83, 2013
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1553-118X print / 1553-1198 online
DOI: 10.1080/1553118X.2013.765439
GUEST EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION
From Management Consulting to Strategic
Communication: Studying the Roles and Functions
of Communication Consulting
Finn Frandsen and Winni Johansen
Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Augustine Pang
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
The body of knowledge about the management consulting industry has been growing at an
impressive speed in recent decades. Today, we have a detailed and empirically founded knowl-
edge about the history, economics, and sociology of management consulting; about consultants
as transmitters or “carriers” of new management knowledge; about the client-consultant relation-
ship and the interaction taking place inside consulting projects; and, about the complex and often
problematic relationship between management consulting, management fads and fashions, and
academia.
However, we still know very little about the external and/or internal consulting work offered
and performed by communication professionals in the field of strategic communication (including
public relations and corporate communication) in Europe, North America, Asia, and other parts
of the world. Although communication consulting agencies play an important role when private
and public organizations are in need of using communication to reach their organizational goals,
they have not very often been subjected to scientific study.
The aim of this IJSC special issue on Strategic Communication and Consulting: Research on
Internal and External Advising in Communication Management is to address this gap. The issue
comprises five articles covering or representing different areas, approaches, and perspectives:
from management to communication consulting; from external to internal communication con-
sulting; from public relations consulting to crisis consulting; and, across national borders (from
the United States to Singapore and Denmark).
Correspondence should be sent to Finn Frandsen, Centre for Corporate Communication, Aarhus University, Jens Chr.
Skous Vej 4, Aarhus C, 8000, Denmark. E-mail: ff@asb.dk
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82 FRANDSEN, JOHANSEN, AND PANG
In the first article, “Management Consulting: Dynamics, Debates, and Directions,” Lars
Engwall and Matthias Kipping, two prominent scholars within management consultancy
research, provide us with an overview of the emergence and dynamics of the management con-
sulting industry, from the 1900s until today. They also guide us through the extant academic
literature on management consulting introducing an analytical framework consisting of three
levels: (1) industry (firms, market, competition), (2) firm (employees, hierarchy, cooperation/
competition), and (3) project (project relationships, networks, transfer/coproduction). Finally,
and of great interest to researchers in strategic communication, Engwall and Kipping also iden-
tify relevant issues for research in communication consulting. Thus, this article may serve as the
entrance door to the special issue.
In the second article, “External Consulting in Strategic Communication: Functions and Roles
Within Systems Theory,” Ulrike Röttger and Joachim Preusse claim that we still lack a basic
theoretical approach to public relations consulting. They suggest that we use Niklas Luhmann’s
systems theory and the theory of systemic consulting as our theoretical basis. The main contribu-
tion of the article is the identification of the six building blocks of a sociologically based theory
of external public relations consulting: (1) organizations as nontrivial systems, (2) the consult-
ing system, (3) consultants as second-order observers, (4) supporting and expanding the client’s
capacity for reflection, (5) specifics of the structure of public relations consulting, and (6) role
dimensions of public relations consulting.
The third article, “Enabling, Advising, Supporting, Executing: A Theoretical Framework for
Internal Communication Consulting Within Organizations,” written by Ansgar Zerfass and Neele
Franke, is also a conceptual article. But the focus has now shifted: from external consulting
to internal consulting in organizations. Zerfass and Franke claim that the consulting function
will be emphasized when we introduce the concept of the communicative organization (cf. the
Stockholm Accords); a perspective, which will lead to a fundamental change within the role
set and job profiles of communication managers in organizations. The authors contribute with
a new theoretical framework for internal communication consulting based on the combination
of consulting objectives (communication-related vs. task-related issues) and consulting forms
(process consulting vs. expert consulting).
In the fourth article, “Structure and Development of the Public Relations Agency Industry in
the United States: Operational Structure, Clients, Fees, and Talent,” Donald K. Wright provides
us with an informative overview of the public relations agency industry in the United States. There
is a focus on the organizational structure of public relations firms, agency clients, the fees charged
by these firms, the role played by global holding companies, and talent and staffing challenges.
Finally, in the fifth and last article of the special issue, “A Comparative Study of Crisis
Consultancies Between Singapore and Denmark: Distant Cousins of the Same Destiny?,”
Augustine Pang, Finn Frandsen, Winni Johansen, and Su Lin Yeo conduct a comparative study
of crisis consultancies in Singapore and Denmark. Adapting and integrating indicators to assess
professionalism, the study examines the level of expertise, experience, and expedience of pub-
lic relations agencies and consultants in offering crisis management and crisis communication
consultancy to private and public organizations in Singapore and Denmark.
Based on two empirical studies originally conducted separately, the authors are able to dis-
cover important similarities and differences concerning the consultants’ educational background,
their understanding of crises, crisis management and crisis communication, their crisis knowledge
and experience, the crisis services offered by the agencies, etc.
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EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION 83
It is our hope that this special issue of International Journal of Strategic Communication will
contribute to a new stream of research within the field of strategic communication: the study
of the roles and functions of communication consulting. We also hope that this new stream of
research will be as rich and comprehensive as the research that has been conducted within the
field of management consulting.
Downloaded by [Augustine Pang] at 20:57 28 March 2013
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