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Management consultancy and the British state, c.1960-c.2010

A PhD thesis presenting a comprehensive history of management consulting to the UK Government.  The abstract reads as follows:

"Management consultants have been important, but hitherto largely unnoticed, features of the postwar British state. This thesis traces the emergence and development of the relationship between management consultancies and the British state. It seeks to answer three questions. First, why were management consultants brought into the machinery of the state? Second, how has state power been impacted by bringing profit-seeking actors into the machinery of the state? And third, how has the nature of management consultancy changed over time?

The thesis demonstrates the role consultants played in major developments in the postwar period. The role of British consultants in helping to professionalise the civil service in the 1960s is considered, and contrasted with the impact American consultants had in seeking to overturn perceived British decline in the 1970s. Consultancies from accounting backgrounds turned their hands to attempts to automate major state operations in the 1980s. Specific case studies interrogate how consultancies influenced the policy fields of health service reform and social security benefits. And the work of consultancies during New Labour’s public sector reforms and moves towards outsourcing of state services in the 1990s and 2000s is analysed.

The history of the work of these varied consultancies helps to deepen and further nuance understandings of the nature of state power and the role of elite networks and governing circles in postwar Britain."

You can view the full document here.

Saturday 11th March 2023
Old books and a cup of coffee