Management as consultancy - the hybridity and tensions of neo-bureaucratic management

This is a Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC) seminar taking place at Leeds University Business School on Thursday 28 February 2019


The nature and extent of changes in management remain subject to debate, especially around the notion of post-bureaucracy. Most research concedes that there has been some change, but towards hybrid or neo-bureaucratic practices. However, the mechanisms through which these changes have occurred, and their precise forms and outcomes have received less attention. This article addresses these issues by focusing on an emerging group of managers that closely resembles images of new management (e.g. project-based, change focused, externally oriented and advisory in style). Drawing on interview-based research in the United Kingdom and Australia, it examines consulting practices and orientations adopted within management roles. It first constructs an ideal type of neo-bureaucracy and then explores different elements of management as consultancy empirically. It shows how they are inspired by anti-bureaucratic rationales but assume a hybrid neo-bureaucratic form. We also show that, far from resolving tensions between rational and post-bureaucratic forms, management as consultancy both reproduces and changes the tensions of management and organisation. Thus, rather than denying or heralding changes in management towards a ‘new spirit of capitalism’, we focus on a context in which such changes are occurring and demonstrate their wider implications for both management and consultancy.


We look forward to seeing you there.


About the speaker

Andrew Sturdy is a Professor of Organisation and Management. His research interests focus mainly on issues of power and identity in the production and use of management ideas, especially in relation to management consultancy and organisational change. Recent projects have looked at the use of management consultants in the NHS, alternative models to external management consultancy and national differences in consulting use and sources of management advice. He has published widely on these topics in articles and books and led two ESRC-funded research projects on management consultancy. He advises various organisations (on an unpaid basis) on the use of management consultancy and has a public policy interest in this area. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Management Inquiry and his next book, the Oxford Handbook of Management Ideas, will be published in 2019.