Success and Failure in Professional Projects: The nature, contours and limits of consulting professionalism

David Collins, Nick Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper offers an analysis of the professional project that was pursued by the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) on behalf of its members. The paper builds on Sturdy's (2011) call to develop empirically grounded accounts of the ways and means of consulting. In addition, it responds to the analysis of the Association of Project Management (APM) developed by Hodgson, Paton and Muzio (2015), which invited further comparative study of professional projects. Drawing on archive data, this paper develops a comparative analysis that considers four key themes: (1) the professionalization strategies developed by the IMC and the APM; (2) jurisdictional issues and shifts in the fields of consulting and project management; (3) the structure of credentials developed for practitioners in both arenas; and (4) the attitudes and actions of key stakeholders shaping policy in the APM and the IMC. The paper examines the contrasting fortunes of the APM and the IMC, yet observes similarities in working practices across these apparently distinct settings. Reflecting on this comparison, the authors consider the nature, contours and limits of consulting professionalism and conclude with the suggestion that, within the analysis of professional projects, conventional conceptualizations of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ should be considered as ‘impostors’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-469
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Volume31
Issue number3
Early online date12 Feb 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

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