Current research reported at the Urwick Lecture 2017

Tim Morris and Will Harvey in the Q&A session

Professors Will Harvey and Tim Morris summarise their current research as follows:

Our paper focuses on how management consultancies can change their reputations. This is important in the sector given the customised and co-produced nature of professional services. We explore how a large global management consulting firm has sought to change its reputation from its historical strength in restructuring to a focus on strategy work. We draw on an extensive dataset, including interviews, focus groups, workshops, archival material and media reports in multiple countries over several years.

Our results show that clients have a clear sense of the firm’s expertise, for example, it is perceived as being strong on operations, efficiency and tailoring their service to the client. Clients also have a strong sense of what the firm lacks, including thought leadership, strength in depth and an elite status.

Drawing on this in-depth case study, we provide a theoretical model for how management consultancy firms can change their reputations. We suggest a focus on four areas. First, clearly understanding their expertise in relation to their competitors. Second, strengthening their existing client offer. Third, being confident and not defensive in relation to their expertise claims. Fourth, ensuring that what they brand at a corporate level closely aligns with what they sell through their partners when pitching for work. We argue that focusing on the above steps can help management consultancies to craft a new reputation.