The professional title management consultant does not enjoy any protection under German law. This means that basically everyone, regardless of his education and qualification, can call him or herself a consultant. This makes it all the more important to have a theoretically sound discussion of the nature and performance of consultants. Especially since the economic importance of the consulting industry has increased considerably in recent years. Because management consultants contribute to the circulation of knowledge, probably the most important productive factor of modern economic systems.
Research is only beginning to reflect the growing relevance of the consulting industry. Although an increasing academic interest in specific aspects of consulting is becoming apparent, the discussion of theoretical and practical problems of the discipline is still at the beginning of its development. In our own work, we focus primarily on three areas: the market of and competition between consultants, the impact consultants achieve in the organization of their clients, and the reputation they enjoy in the market.
Fields of research
Market and competition
The German consulting market is highly fragmented – and accordingly confusing for those seeking advice: around 16,000 consulting firms generate annual sales of around 30 billion euros in Germany. Almost a quarter of this is accounted for by the 25 leading companies alone – above all the big three: McKinsey, the Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company.
The impact of consultants
The question of the effectiveness of consulting projects has always been controversially discussed in the business world and in the media – often with a skeptical basic tenor. Do consulting assignments really make sense? Are the considerable fees charged by companies such as McKinsey, the Boston Consulting Group or Bain & Company worthwhile?
The reputation of consultants
The reputation of a consultant is – not least because of its self-binding effect – a good indicator of the consultant’s performance and willingness to perform and thus usually a solid basis for the decision to choose a consultant.