Influence and Power Dynamics in Client-Consultant Teams

40 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2008

See all articles by Natalia Nikolova

Natalia Nikolova

University of Technology Sydney

Timothy M. Devinney

University of Manchester - Alliance Manchester Business School

Date Written: October 10, 2008

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Nikolova, Natalia and Devinney, Timothy M., Influence and Power Dynamics in Client-Consultant Teams (October 10, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1282047 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1282047

Natalia Nikolova

University of Technology Sydney ( email )

15 Broadway, Ultimo
NSW 2007
Sydney
Australia

Timothy M. Devinney (Contact Author)

University of Manchester - Alliance Manchester Business School ( email )

Booth Street West
Manchester, M15 6PB
United Kingdom

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