The Global Management Consulting Sector

By Gross, Andrew C.; Poor, Jozsef | Business Economics, October 2008 | Go to article overview

The Global Management Consulting Sector


Gross, Andrew C., Poor, Jozsef, Business Economics


While other practices or professions trace their roots back several centuries, management consulting is less than 150 years old. However, this sector has made giant strides in the West, especially in the United States, from the 1930s to the present and in Western Europe since the 1950s. Waves of internationalization occurred on both sides of the Atlantic. Expansion got a further boost when Central Europe opened the gates in 1990. With that opening and the World Wide Web, both local and big multinational management consultants stepped up their efforts. Further strides are being made now in the booming Asia-Pacific region. We first explore historical highlights and the key drivers of growth; then briefly analyze service offerings, end-use markets, available statistics, and company profiles. Finally, we probe emerging trends and the contours in this field, a sector that is an amalgam of management practice and a professional service. Our investigation is based on archives, theses, research databanks, association and company data, and our own primary work.

While management practice is as old as civilization itself, management theory and management consulting are of more recent vintage. Their origins can be traced back to the end of the nineteenth century, and they came of age in the twentieth. In the twenty-first century, we shall see further refinements in all three fields, with diversification, transparency, and accountability as emerging trends. Managers, theoreticians, and consultants will have to be flexible, open-minded, and prove their mettle. Expertise, trust, and coaching will be valued, along with implementation.

Background and History

Management consulting is of a younger vintage than either management practice or management theory. It is a high-pressure, high-level practice, but it is striving hard now to be viewed also as a profession. Some put the origin of consultancy in general, and management consulting in particular, in the middle of the nineteenth century when Samuel Price, Foster Higgins, and James Sedgwick each began operating a business that included "advisory practice" in England or the United States.

According to business historians, the first pure consultancy was that of Arthur Little in the United States, who started out in 1886 with a focus on technology and "engineering economics." It was not until 1904, however, that he and his firm moved beyond chemical testing and engineering into administrative advisory services. In a similar fashion, George Touche, William Deloitte, and Arthur Young each started his own accounting practice in the 1890s and then shifted into auditing and advising after 1900. Thus, the argument can be made that true management consultancy made its appearance only in the twentieth century.

The leading U.S. accounting firms, many formed in the first 25 years of the twentieth century, found themselves advising large clients about their tax and financial ventures, as well as assisting them in formulating corporate strategy. Thus, firms or partnerships such as Arthur Andersen, Arthur Young, Cooper Brothers, Ernst & Ernst, Peat Marwick, Touche Ross, and others have also become management counselors. Personnel or human resource firms, such as Buck Consultants, Towers Perrin, Hay, Mercer, and Watson Wyatt entered the realm of "the advice business." A.D. Little, Inc., other tech-business firms, and various research entities, such as Battelle Memorial Institute and Stanford Research Institute, joined the fray and promoted themselves as technical-managerial counselors.

The appearance of true management consultants in the United States is traced to Edwin Booz in 1914 and to James McKinsey and Andrew Kearney in the 1920s; their names survive to this day in company names. Others have not fared as well, and many mergers took place. The pioneers started by offering accounting, financial, and operational assistance; soon after, they moved into management consulting, The Association of Consulting Management Engineers (ACME) was formed in the early 1930s, "serving as spokesman and policeman," according to Higdon (1969). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Global Management Consulting Sector
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.