Organizational design approaches in management consulting

Klaasjan Visscher (University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)
J. Irene, A. Visscher‐Voerman (University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 1 June 2010



The purpose of this paper is to map the variety in organizational design approaches, to clarify their differences, and to find out what constitutes good designing in practice.


A series of in‐depth interviews with experienced, high‐reputation consultants is used to reconstruct organizational design practice.


The paper presents a typology with three organizational design approaches, stemming from different theoretical traditions. The paper demonstrates that the three approaches comprise both traditional design activities – analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation – experimental activities, and political activities, but that the emphasis, elaboration, rationale and order of these activities are very different for each approach.

Research limitations/implications

The study provides a framework for further research on the contextualization of design processes, investigating which design approaches work under which conditions.

Practical implications

Practitioners can use the results of this study to clarify, improve and enrich their own approach of organizational designing.


Management literature contains many models of organization design processes, but empirical studies of these processes are rare, and not yet existing in the context of management consulting. The paper fills some of the gaps.



Visscher, K., Irene, J. and Visscher‐Voerman, A. (2010), "Organizational design approaches in management consulting", Management Decision, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 713-731.

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