Is management consultancy really global?
23 October 2018
Andrew Sturdy, Professor of Management and Organisation in the Department of Management, reveals a different picture.
In academic and media accounts of management, we are constantly presented with a picture of management consultancy as increasingly influential and global in its scope. In both the private and public sectors and across transnational organisations, consulting firms offer their services to a seemingly willing audience. This mirrors the images projected by the global consulting firms themselves, who boast offices in scores of countries and hundreds of cities and a ‘thought leadership’ role for executives and policy makers.
But even a superficial study of the available data of both global and local firms shows a different picture. It is as if we want to believe that there is a dominant group shaping our world. In fact, the sector as a whole is highly concentrated geographically. The large firms may have a wide network of offices, but these are often to service multinational clients.
Overall, almost four fifths of consulting fees are accounted for by North America (48%) and the European Union (30%). And with nearly three-quarters of European consulting revenues stemming from only three countries (Germany, UK and France), this means that, along with the USA and Canada, around 70% of consultancy fees worldwide are generated in only 5 nations – over double these countries’ share of global GDP.
Our recent research, which is featured in an editorial in the Financial Times, explores why such a cross-national variation in consulting exists – above and beyond economic factors - and therefore also flags how there are many other routes to organisational and management innovation.