Management Consultancies As Institutional Agents: Strategies For Creating And Sustaining Institutional Capital

Reihlen, Markus, Smets, Michael and Veit, Andreas (2010) Management Consultancies As Institutional Agents: Strategies For Creating And Sustaining Institutional Capital. Schmalenbach Business Review, 62. pp. 317-339.

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Abstract

Management consultants have long been recognized as carriers of management knowledge and disseminators of management fashions. While it is well understood how they promote the acceptance of their concepts, surprisingly little has been said about their strategies to promote the acceptability of their services. In this paper, we elaborate a typology of strategies by which management consultancies can create and sustain such “institutional capital” (Oliver, 1997) that helps them extract competitive resources from their institutional context. Drawing on examples from the German consulting industry, we show how localized competitive actions can enhance individual firm’s positions, but also the collective institutional capital of the consulting industry as a whole, legitimizing consulting services in broader sectors of society and facilitating access to requisite resources. Our accounts counter prevailing imagery of institutional entrepreneurship as individualistic, “heroic” action and demonstrate how distributed, embedded actors can collectively shape the institutional context from within to enhance their institutional capital.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: consulting industry, neo-institutionalism, institutional capital, embedded agency, institutional strategy
Subject(s): Professional services
Centre: Centre for Professional Firms
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2013 17:09
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2015 16:40
Funders: German Ministry of Education and Research (research grant 01HW0168)
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/4912

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