Management Consultants

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Problem Statement and Research Question

As the research presented in our Background section shows, the way management consultants’ conduct their work varies and can be influenced by the management consultants’ background. The market for management consultants yields substantial revenue. Hence, a clear and transparent characterization of a management consultants’ background and its effects on the management consultants’ way of identifying a problem seems beneficial. This may provide up-front knowledge and information to potential clients of management consultancy services. Also, it would offer the industry of management consultancy a chance of more self-criticism and awareness.
We will throughout this bachelor thesis work with the following research question:
“Do management consultants background have an impact on their identification process of problems in a given consultancy situation?”
In extension, we elaborate on this research question to bring clarity to the issue:
“How do management consultants’ background affect the way they identify problems in a given consultancy situation?”
We wish to investigate if there is a pattern between how a management consultant identifies problems in a given business simulation and their background, given by a number of demographic variables. We will test the demographic variables and compare these with the way a management consultant identifies a problem within an organization, i.e. recognize a need for change. The focus of this report will be strictly descriptive and whether or not each management consultant’s background affects the way they identify problems.
As to our knowledge there is no extensive research focused on our specific area of interest. It is our ambition to enlighten the relationship, which we believe exist, between a management consultant’s background and actual practice. We find that this descriptive analysis might be interesting for scholars as well as practicing management consultants. Scholars within change management strive to innovate their field of study and hopefully this descriptive analysis might inspire to study a dimension of management consultants’ behavior, which has not yet been extensively explored. Practicing management consultants, mainly within organizational development, may find this work interesting as a further exploration of a management consultant’s unique characteristics.


We will conduct an experimental, descriptive study in order to statistically test if our independent, demographic variables have any effect on the dependent variables, which reflects a management consultants perceived preference when identifying problems. The independent, demographic variables will as mentioned before, constitute the management consultant’s background. We will measure this by exposing management consultants’ to a laboratory business simulation. The information is to be collected through a self-administered questionnaire survey.
The purpose of this research study is to test whether there is any pattern or relationship between management consultants’ personal background and how they identify a given set of problems.


Change – When you break the status quo or make something different (Oxford Dictionary, 2012). Several authors within change management and organizational development (Defined below) highlights the importance of change, namely that organizations and companies adjust its processes, systems, strategies and businesses to be more aligned with the external environment (Kotter, 1996)(Paton and McCalman, 2008)(Senior and Swailer, 2010).
Change Management – Change management can be defined as how you plan change and conduct its implementation in a systematic manner. Kotter (2011) defines change management as the set of basic instruments and models used to keep the change process under control. Hence, the theories and academia of change management helps businesses to facilitate change.
Change agent (Internal and External) – Harvard Literacy for HR Professionals, (2005 p. 13) define change agent as: “Initiate and lead the organizational changes that a company must make to remain competitive in the face of major business shifts.” Others have defined change agents as: « A change agent is a person who leads change—an influencer who initiates or helps others implement new ideas and strategies” (Carr, 2008). What they have in common and what can be agreed upon is that a change agent leads change for the greater good of the organization. As noted by Richard Beckhard (1969), change agents can be an internal one, employed by the organization, who can facilitate change. Or he or she can be an external change agent, and is then contracted by the organization and comes from outside the organization, to facilitate change.
First Impression – We have used this definition as a collected measure in our statistical analysis and hypothesis motivation. This definition is given by the management consultants’ preference regarding the 12 organizational dynamics presented by Burke and Litwin (1992), ranked on a 7 grade Likert scale.
Organization Development (OD) – Thomas Cummings (2004) defines organizational development as structured methods and planned actions. This creates systematic change so that organizations can more easily adapt to its external environment and become more effective and efficient. Organizational development theory is considered as the theoretical framework used in organizations, when a specific outcome is desirable in a change processes.
OD practitioner – In terms, and OD practitioner is a person who exercises organizational development practices. He or she can either be internally employed or externally contracted (Cummings, 2004). Due to its similar nature, change agents and OD practitioners are in many cases similar roles if not exactly the same, which is why Tichy and Nisberg (1976) use these concepts interchangeable throughout their research.
Management Consultant – A management consultant represents a consultancy firm that is contracted by an organization or company to exercise specialist skills, and/or advise them in different matters, depending on the needs of the organization (Hilditch-Roberts, 2012).
Due to management consultants similar role to an external change agent or an external OD practitioner, we will treat these three concepts as one: A person who externally enters an organization with intention to advice in, mediate or realize a situation which requires a change of behavior, structure, processes or strategies.


Theoretical Model

As discussed earlier in the Background, both internal and external forces can trigger change. This is also reflected, in the different models and tools used when diagnosing organizations within the field of change management and organizational development (Burke and Litwin, 1992). Extensive research has previously been made in the subject, and a number of different models are available within the area. However, we will concentrate on the Burke-Litwin’s “Casual Model of Organizational Performance and Change” since it is a comprehensive model within organizational development. Burke and Litwin furthermore (1992) acknowledges that their model is strongly influence by the work of other well know researchers in the field, such as Nadal and Tushman, Kotter and Weisbord.

The Burke-Litwin Casual Model of Organizational Performance and Change

Kotter’s integrative model of organizational dynamics and Nadler and Tushman’s (1980) congruence model are both models that stresses that organizations are means of taking inputs (externally) and transforming it (internally) to outputs. Hence, both models emphasize the importance of a functional transformational process that occurs within an organization, due to its external and internal environment (Porter, Nadler and Cammann, 1980). Both models, and the idea of inputs that transforms to output through and with the help of the organization, have been the foundation for the Burke-Litwin model (Burke and Litwin, 1992).
Burke and Litwin (1992) recognized that an organization consists of several linkages and processes that can be nearly impossible to control or to predict. Hence, in order to easier understand how different influences, such as culture, strategy, leadership etc. affects an organization, Burke and Litwin developed their “Casual Model of Organizational Performance and Change” in 1992 (Burke and Litwin, 1992)

1 Introduction
2 Background 
2.1 Change and Organizational Development and why it Exists
2.2 Management Consultants
2.3 Previous Research on how Management Consultants Differ
3 Problem Statement and Research Question 
4 Purpose
5 Definitions 
6 Theoretical Model 
6.1 The Burke-Litwin Casual Model of Organizational Performance and Change
7 Hypothesis 
8 Method
8.1 Research Design
8.2 Sampling, Sample and Response Rate
8.3 Use of Hypothesis
8.4 Multiple Regression
9 Results and Analysis
9.1 Sample Statistics
9.2 Data Presentation and Interpretation
9.3 Discussion
10 Conclusion
10.1 Purpose and Research Question
10.2 Contribution
10.3 Implications for Practice
10.4 Limitations
10.5 Further research
11 Reflections on the Writing Process
List of References 
Management Consultants Differ A statistical descriptive analysis on how management consultants’ personal background affects their work

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