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The paradoxical repertoires of management consultancy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrea Whittle



Purpose – To outline paradoxes found in literature on management consulting and present a novel way of re-conceptualizing paradox using a performative or action-oriented approach to discourse. Design/methodology/approach – The approach is based on a theoretical reinterpretation of existing research findings on management consulting. Limited ethnographic data are also used to support the argument. Findings – The paper argues that paradoxes are an outcome of the many, often conflicting, interpretive repertoires (IR) used to understand management consulting. This suggests that paradoxes may never be resolved but instead may constitute a key resource for agents in affecting change. This idea is illustrated with reference to ethnographic data from a study of management consultants. Research limitations/implications – The paper suggests that a performative theory of discourse enables researchers to appreciate how and why paradoxes are reproduced in the context of organizational change. Practical implications – Practitioners are seen to work within paradoxes, using conflicting IR as a toolkit for negotiating change. Originality/value – Proposes a novel way of viewing paradoxes by shifting the focus away from what paradoxical accounts reflect towards what they achieve in the context of interaction.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Whittle A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Organizational Change Management

Year: 2006

Volume: 19

Issue: 4

Pages: 424-436

Print publication date: 01/01/2006

Date deposited: 24/04/2015

ISSN (print): 0953-4814

ISSN (electronic): 1758-7816

Publisher: Emerald


DOI: 10.1108/09534810610676635

Notes: Special Issue: Paradoxes in Management


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