During the 1990s and into the 2000s, management consultancy widened the scope of its services to include helping firms to develop strategy and as such, sustain their operations both in the short- and long-run. As Biggs (2010) observe, there are emerged two critical fields in management consultancy as this sector developed, namely, performance improvement and strategy development and implementation. In addition, Collins (2004) point out that management consultancy services are no longer associated with the private sector alone but also governmental authorities and agencies contribute significant revenue to this sector. Despite its consistent growth in the 20th century and early 21st century, there is a need to note that this sector has is witnessing a significant rise in opposition, who cast doubt on whether it has any value in the modern world. According to Hwang and Tan (2012), there are emerging arguments that the cost of management consultancy is significantly higher and yet fail to reflect the value that such experts offer to firms. Furthermore, O'Mahoney and Markham (2013) reiterate that in most cases, management consultants offer generic advice that is of no value to firms. Such arguments are inclined towards suggesting that firms are high likely to waste their financial resource when they hire management consultants. Despite this negative attention, the global management consultancy industry continues to grow and is currently valued at $250 billion (Kaplan, 2018). Furthermore, there are emerging fields that are ripe for consulting including the healthcare industry, Fintech and financial services sector, and the information technology industry in fields such as cyber security, and the Internet of Things (IoT) (Greentarget, 2017).
Why consultants are hired 为何聘用顾问
There are different reasons why firms hire consultants. To begin with, one of the critical reasons why firms consider the services of consultants is to complement their insufficient in-house expertise. In reference to Simon and Kumar (2001), whenever a firm feels that it is insufficient in a certain skill, rather than recruiting talent to fill the gap on a permanent payroll, the firm in question may seek the services of a consultant to providing this expertise. This is affirmed by Ko (2010) who argues that consultants are expected to be experts and more experienced in a certain field and as such, firms hire them with the aim of tapping into the knowledge on their areas of expertise. In addition to this, researchers and scholars note that in some cases, firms hire consultants with the aim of addressing the problem of insufficient in-house manpower. According to Sverke, Gallagher and Hellgren (2002), rather than hiring temporary workers who might need further training in order to meet the standards of the required skillset, most firms opt to hire consultants who already possess the required skillset. Therefore, hiring consultants could act as a platform for alternative work arrangement where consultants fill in the skills gap within the said firms.
Similarly, firms often hire consultants with the aim of gaining insights from independent experts, who have no vested interest in the organisation. In reference to O'Mahoney and Markham (2013), whereas a firm’s employees may possess the same knowledge as consultants, such employees are often incapable of providing objective advice because of their vested interest in the firm, thus prompting it to seek for the advice of consultants. In other words, consultants are able to provide firms with objective or rather unbiased advice since they have no vested interest on the firm in question. O'Mahoney and Markham (2013) further point out that firms hire consultants to legitimise the decisions of their independent board members, thus protecting them from corporate liability. In this case, after the management board has made certain decisions concern their respective firms, they might hire a consultant to ratify these decisions and as such, protect them from any form of corporate liability in future.