Managing Consultants in a Small Firm: A Case Study

23 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2016

See all articles by Monder Ram

Monder Ram

De Montfort University - School of Business; University of Birmingham - Birmingham Business School

Date Written: November 1999


An increasingly noted feature of the small business population is the rise of the small, professional‐service firm. Explanations of the emergence, employment potential and economic contribution of such firms have been much debated. But comparatively little is known of the dynamics of managing such enterprises. This paper aims to illuminate the nature of the management process in such settings by examining the case of one particular management consultancy, WhitCo. A broad conception of the management process is argued for that recognizes the tensions of working in a ‘high‐trust’ environment. The study, which is based on an intensive investigation in the case‐study firm over a year‐long period, explores three processes. First, the development of the enterprise, particularly in relation to the recruitment of consultants; this establishes the basis of ‘trust’ in the firm. Second, the management of client relationships and their impact on work relations. Third, the dynamics of ‘project management’. The findings highlight how fragile ‘co‐operation’ in such a context can be, and identifies tensions that stem from pressures for organizational efficiency and the need to encourage ‘entrepreneurialism’ among key staff

Suggested Citation

Ram, Monder, Managing Consultants in a Small Firm: A Case Study (November 1999). Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 36, Issue 6, pp. 875-897, 1999. Available at SSRN: or

Monder Ram (Contact Author)

De Montfort University - School of Business ( email )

Department of Corporate Strategy
Leicester LE1 9BH
United Kingdom
+44 116 255.1551 (Phone)
+44 116 251.7548 (Fax)

University of Birmingham - Birmingham Business School ( email )

Edgbaston Park Road
Birmingham, B15 2TY
United Kingdom

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