Reputation and Identity Conflict in Management Consulting

Harvey, William, Morris, Tim and Mueller Santos, Milena (2017) Reputation and Identity Conflict in Management Consulting. Human Relations, 70 (1). pp. 92-118.


Based on a case study of a large consulting firm, this paper makes two contributions to the literature on reputation and identity by examining how an organization responds when its identity is substantially misaligned with the experience and perceptions of external stakeholders that form the basis of reputational judgments. First, rather than triggering some form of identity adaptation, it outlines how other forms of identity can come into play to remediate this gap, buffering the organization’s identity from change. This shift to other individual identities is facilitated by a low organizational identity context even when the identity of the firm is coherent and strong. The second contribution concerns the conceptualization of consulting and other professional service firms. We explain how reputation and identity interact in the context of the distinctive organizational features of these firms. Notably, their loosely coupled structure and the central importance of expert knowledge claims enable individual consultants both to reinforce and supplement corporate reputation via individual identity work.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: professional services, case study, identity, management, organizational theory, reputation
Subject(s): Professional services
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2016 16:17
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2018 14:55
Funders: Not applicable

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