Evaluating and reflecting on consultancy interventions
THE PAPER – Sturdy, A. (2011) ‘Consultancy’s consequences? A critical assessment of management consultancy’s impact on management’, British Journal of Management, 22(3), pp. 517-530.
Using relevant academic literature and reading about consultancy practice, provide a critical analysis of the above paper, its strengths and weaknesses with particular reference to its potential practical value for consultants, clients and/or policy/regulation. This is an essay. This means that there should be a clear introduction and conclusion.
The main aim is to link research and practice with a view to improve both. For example, how might your research findings be adapted to better inform practice and in what ways can research make consulting more effective? Pay attention to the potential for different interest groups/actors (e.g. consultants, clients, purchasers, customers/taxpayers). Wider reading on consulting and/or change research beyond the article is expected (e.g. from consulting, change or strategy textbooks).
INDICATIVE STRUCTURE TO THE ESSAY*
• Section 1: Introduction 150 words
• Section 2: Paper outline 200/250 words
• Section 3: literature review 600/700 words
• Section 4: in practice 400 words
• Section 5: Evaluation 300 words
• Section 6: Discussion/Conclusion 200 words
Total word count: 1900 words
Guidance for answering each section
• Section 1 – Introduction
• Background information, what is the paper and area of interest
• What is the aim of the essay and how will you achieve this?
• Section 2 – Paper outline. Briefly detail your paper.
• What is the basic argument?
• What is the support and or evidence for the argument?
• What are the key theories, models, and methods?
• What are the key findings?
• What are the key conclusions (does the hint to future research help you?)
• It is recommend that you focus on one key area to take forward e.g. the spread of consultancy ideas, power, identity, consultancy rhetoric, impact of consultancy, managers are consultants and consultants are managers etc. (depending on the paper you chose). Can you turn this into a research question?
• Keep in mind the type of papers (data) you will use as this will impact on the language you use e.g.
• Qualitative to explore, to gain a deeper understanding
• Quantitative, to test, to measure, to find out the causal relationship between a and b
• Example research question
• Does the concept of liminality help us explore the lived experiences of management consultants?
• To answer this research question, we need explore two key themes/ideas/topic prevalent in the academic literature
Section 3: Literature review
Having identified key literature and key sub themes. You must now use your wider research in order to critically assess what has happened since your paper was publishes. This will help you draw out the strengths and weaknesses of your research paper later on. You are conduct a mini literature review:
The brief: ‘Using relevant academic literature …provide a critical analysis of its strengths and weaknesses …
• Make use of your 2/3 themes
• Under each theme
• what do they argue?
• What are the key theories, models and methods? What are their key findings?
• Does the research build on other papers argument/findings or does it contradict them?
• What are the key insights arguments?
• Is there a problem with the research in this theme?
(not all areas of each paper will be important. read with purpose)
Section 4: In practice
‘… reading about consultancy practice, provide a critical analysis of its strengths and weaknesses with particular reference to its potential practical value
• Given what you have found in the academic literature
• Find news articles and other popular literatures that speak to the main theme/ topic and sub themes from section 3. Consider; the consultant role, relations with clients and or completing a specific aspect of the project (But it will depend on your focus)
• Is there anything in the popular literature (last 5 years) that can help you make your point? Why is this significant today?
• Don’t lose sight of your research aim
Section 5: Evaluation
Nothing new from this point!
• This section should focus on bringing together sections 3 and 4. Bring together the main findings from both sections. What can we learn, what are the main take away points?
• Emphasis is placed here on critical discussion
Section 6: Discussion/ Conclusion
• Given your analysis of both the academic literature and consultancy in practice Sections 2 and 5 what conclusions can be drawn
This is where you can really draw out the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen paper in relation to your analysis
Consider ending your essay with a view for your chosen stakeholders: the future research agenda in consultancy/management practice, consultants, clients, policy makers