Joe O’Mahoney and Calvert Markham (2013) Management Consultancy. Oxford University Press. It is aimed at students of management consultancy and gives a comprehensive view of the industry and the business and practice of management consulting.
Calvert Markham (2013) Practical Management Consultancy. A standard text on delivering consulting projects. It is published as an e-book.
Other student textbooks
David Biggs (2010) Management Consulting: a guide for students. South Western CENGAGE learning. Perhaps of rather narrower scope that Joe O’Mahoney’s book.
Wickham and Wickham (2008) Management Consulting: delivering an effective project Prentice Hall. As the name indicates, this is focused on the practicalities of delivering a consulting project.
About the sector
Milan Kubr. (2002). Management Consulting. A Guide to the Profession, 4th edition. International Labour Office. This is the standard “bible” of the profession, first published in 1976. This is more a reference work than a good read!
Gilbert Toppin and Fiona Czerniawska (2005) Business Consulting: A Guide to How it Works and How to Make it Work. Economist books. A good overview of the UK industry before the banking crisis.
James O’Shea and Charles Madigan (1997) Dangerous Company: The Consulting Powerhouses and the Businesses they Save and Ruin. Nicholas Brealey. Although published some time ago, this is readable and a very interesting perspective on the US consulting industry.
Sturdy, AJ, Wright, C & Wylie, N (2015), Management as Consultancy: Neo-bureaucracy and the Consultant Manager. Cambridge University Press. Based on research from one of the largest academic studies of consultancy ever the book argues that management consultancy is becoming a victim of its own success, leading to increasing imitation, and ultimately substitution. (This publication was the winner of the Urwick Prize in 2016).
Clayton M. Christensen, Dina Wang, Derek van Bever, Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption. Harvard Business Review October 2013. The article argues that the same forces that disrupted so many businesses are starting to reshape the world of consulting.
The practice of consulting
David Maister (1993) Managing the Professional Service Firm. Free Press. This is a classic and to a large extent confirmed David Maister’s authority in this field.
Calvert Markham (2014) The Top Consultant: Developing Your Skills for Greater Effectiveness. This covers the activities of more senior and experienced consultants. It is published as an e-book.
Barbara Minto (2009) The Pyramid Principle. Financial Times-Prentice Hall. This is a long established book (recently updated) that is as much about thinking as writing.
For the curious
The following two books are sometimes cited, but will not add much useful additional information to those previously mentioned.
Sadler, P. (2001) Management Consultancy: A Handbook for Best Practice. Kogan Page. Much of what this covers is dealt with in O’Mahoney’s book, but this is a valuable additional perspective.
Curnow B., and J., Reuvid (2003) International Guide to Management Consultancy Kogan Page.
The following three books are definitely for the curious:
Larry Greiner, Thomas Olson & Fleming Poulfelt (2005) The contemporary consultant casebook Thomson Southwestern. Only if you like case studies…
Peter Block (1999) Flawless consulting University Associates. This book was first published well before the current edition, and is an often cited classic. It considers consulting as an interpersonal contract – much more towards the counselling end of engagement.
David Maister, Charles Green, Robert Galford (2002) The trusted advisor Free Press. “Trusted advisor” status is sought by many professionals and this book has been taken up by a number of practices. Not a great read, and full of lists!