Influence and Power Dynamics in Client-Consultant Teams
40 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2008
Date Written: October 10, 2008
Client-consultant interactions influence not only what is seen as relevant management knowledge but also how it is produced, legitimated, distributed and consumed. Although it has been recognized that client-consultant interactions are inherently political, the nature of power and the power dynamics in client-consultant teams are still poorly understood. Taking a differentiated look at the roles and responsibilities of members of client-consultant teams, we provide a micro perspective of power within client-consultant teams. We propose that two forms of power influence client-consultant interactions: positional power, as expressed through the authority of the sponsor and the client project manager, and rhetorical power, expressed in the actions of consultants. While the outcome of the interplay of these forms of power is not predictable, which confirms the interdependent nature of power within client-consultant teams, we suggest that some members of the client team can find themselves in the position of the dependent, or silenced, actor in the relationship. The paper concludes by assessing the practical and theoretical implications of our study.
Keywords: strategic consulting, consultancy, client-consultant teams, power
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