Capturing the competence of management consulting work

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Purpose: The purpose of this article is to assess whether the effort of consulting firms and branch organizations to establish a shared and standardized methodology as a means to professionalize consulting and as a standard for training is possible and sensible. - Design/methodology/approach: A survey was conducted among Dutch management consultants, which explored their ways of working and their ways of learning. - Findings: The study shows that efforts to develop a shared and standardized phase-model methodology do not seem to be effective. Instead of following phase-models, consultants appear to be improvising bricoleurs, tailoring their ways of working to specific situations, and using broad, heterogeneous and partly implicit repertoires, which are built through mainly through action-learning. This requires another kind of methodology and another kind of training. - Research limitations/implications: The article gives a general direction for the development of a consulting methodology and the education of consultants. Further research on consulting practices and repertoires is necessary to explore this direction. - Practical implications: The paper concludes that the value of phase-models as a standard is limited. Therefore, branch organizations, consulting firms and corporate universities should not focus their professionalization and training activities on these standardized methods. - Originality/value: Little work has been done yet on the relation between professionalization, methods, and training in management consulting, and no earlier publication has studied this topic quantitatively.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)248-260
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of workplace learning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • phase-models
  • management consulting
  • professional training
  • METIS-233171
  • Competence
  • Professionalization
  • Knowledge Management
  • IR-73431

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