Management Consultancy and The Varieties of Capitalism

Authored by: Denis Saint-Martin

Routledge Handbook of Comparative Policy Analysis

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138959774
eBook ISBN: 9781315660561
Adobe ISBN:


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Management consultancy is a US$400 billion global business that provides expert advice intended to improve the organizational performance of the world’s largest companies and large government bodies, such as the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, and various defence ministries in Europe and North America (IBISWorld, 2015). Government is a booming sector and accounts for almost a third of the global management consulting market ( The Economist, 2005). If management consultants from the private sector were once described as being part of a ‘shadow government’ (Guttman & Willner, 1976), this is no longer the case today. With the rise of New Public Management over the past 30 years, consultants have become increasingly visible actors in the process of government restructuring. Some have written about the ‘new cult of the management consultant’ in government (Smith, 1994, p. 130), and described consultants as ‘intellectual mercenaries’ (Leys, 1999) or ‘hired guns’ that ‘politicians use to bypass reluctant civil servants’ (Bakvis, 1997, p. 106). Others have coined the term ‘consultocracy’ (Hood & Jackson, 1991, p. 224) to underline the growing influence of consultants in public policy. In Australia, a study goes as far as suggesting that consultants ‘reoriented’ the nation’s social policy framework (Martin, 1998), while in France, a former minister of industry once claimed that a minister arriving at a cabinet meeting with a report from McKinsey or the Boston Consulting Group is like ‘Moses coming down from the mountain with the Tables of the Law’ ( Le Monde, 1999).

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