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date: 29 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Consultants and advisers are often key actors in the development, dissemination, and application of management ideas. However, while consultants and their critics have stressed their masterly role as management ‘thought leaders’, critical researchers have highlighted a more nuanced understanding of their activities and impact, stressing both the more mundane aspects of consultancy advice and the significant challenges they face as knowledge brokers. This chapter reviews the now extensive literature on management consulting and outlines the ways in which consultants have sought to innovate and legitimize different aspects of management knowledge, as well as the emerging challenges that they now face. These include not only a more knowledgeable management clientele, but also the ability of consultants and advisers to meaningfully engage with the profound political, social, and environmental challenges of the twenty-first century world.

Keywords: consultants, management ideas, management fashion, neo-liberalism, knowledge broker

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