The Global Engineering Consultancy Market

By Gross, Andrew C. | Business Economics, October 2012 | Go to article overview

The Global Engineering Consultancy Market


Gross, Andrew C., Business Economics


The purpose of this paper is to assess and analyze the size and characteristics of the engineering consultancy market in select Western nations and worldwide. A secondary goal is two-fold: to look briefly at the training required for careers in this field and to evaluate the strategies of the participating firms. This sector has grown in the past half-century to about U.S.$550 billion revenue globally, with nearly 3 million establishments and about 500,000 employees. There are giant, multinational 'firms that span across regions; but the sector is still highly fragmented, and the top 10 firms have less than 15 percent of the global market share. The typical firm in the industry in most major countries consists of around five or six professional associates. The data problems in analyzing this sector are formidable. The paper offers guidelines to using these statistics. It also describes steps necessary for effective marketing.

Business Economics (2012) 47, 285-296.

Keywords: engineering consulting, services, global markets, civil engineering

The industry described and analyzed here is defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code #541330: Engineering Services (1) This industry comprises, "... establishments primarily engaged in applying physical laws and principles of engineering in the design, development, and utilization of machines, materials, instruments, structures, processes, and systems. The assignments undertaken by these establishments may involve any of the following activities: provision of advice, preparation of feasibility studies, preparation of preliminary and final plans and designs, provision of technical services during the construction or installation phase, inspection and evaluation of engineering projects, and related services." These services are offered on a consultancy basis, rather than being provided by in-house engineering staffs. Every attempt has been made to find the equivalent code and scope for the sector in the other nations covered in this paper.

As the definition suggests, there are engineering fields that encompass virtually the entire range of man's interaction with nature. These include civil engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering (including electronics), mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, automotive engineering, marine engineering, aeronautical engineering, software engineering, bioengineering, and other engineering fields.

This paper assesses the size and characteristics of the engineering consultancy industry in select Western nations and worldwide. The size of each national market is difficult to determine, and so is the precise nature of service offerings, the regional markets served, and end-use patterns. One of our goals here is to show how the statistics differ owing to diversity in terminology, data collection, and subsequent interpretation. Although both national statistical bureaus and many private publishers are dedicated to offering reliable data, their surveys are often ad hoc and/or lack sufficient details for analysis. We offer guidelines on how to steer around such problems. In concluding, we suggest strategic steps and specific advice on promotion schemes for large and small enterprises. The keys to success are sharing knowledge within the firm, enhancing reputation, smart bidding, and forging strong relationships with clients.

Section 1 of the paper describes the sector's history and scope. Section 2 describes current issues in the engineering consultancy industry and how they are being resolved. Section 3 describes the industry in each of the world's major regions. Section 4 describes business strategy and marketing. Section 5 offers some concluding remarks. Appendix I describes the methods use in the data assembly and analysis. Appendix II is an annotated bibliography for those who wish to conduct their own investigations into this sector.

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