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The drivers of customer satisfaction in strategic consulting engagements: A global study

Matti Haverila (American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Earl Robert Bateman (American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Earl Robert Naumann (American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




This exploratory study aims to identify the key drivers of customer satisfaction for strategic consulting engagements in a global context. Specifically, the authors compare the attitudes of US and non‐US senior executives to learn how they evaluate consulting engagements.


The literature surrounding selection of management consultants and client satisfaction with consulting work is reviewed. A thematic content analysis was used to evaluate the responses of 35 US and 22 non‐US senior executives.


The results reveal both similarities and differences when compared to the outcomes of previous research generally, but they also highlight apparent distinctions based on the country location of the executive. Consistent with previous research, consultant characteristics, customer focus, and value emerged as broad themes driving client satisfaction. In addition, project management and enterprise considerations also emerged as significant drivers of satisfaction. Detailed analysis of responses reveals interesting locational differences underlying satisfaction.

Practical implications

The key implication of this study is the identification of new drivers for customer satisfaction in strategic consulting engagements. These new elements are primarily related to enterprise and project management issues. In addition, this research suggests that the relative importance of customer satisfaction drivers may differ between executives based in the USA and those based elsewhere.


The paper provides a broad overview of satisfaction issues in consulting services, particularly with multinational enterprises as the client. It also offers a more in‐depth discussion of the relative importance of key drivers depending on the location of service delivery. By consolidating these elements into a single discussion, the paper provides a unique viewpoint not available in the current literature. Although exploratory, the holistic approach applied here should allow academic researchers to compare and contrast the results of this research to previous findings. Partners and key account managers at consulting firms might also consider the relative emphasis placed on elements of their service offerings.



Haverila, M., Bateman, E.R. and Naumann, E.R. (2011), "The drivers of customer satisfaction in strategic consulting engagements: A global study", Management Decision, Vol. 49 No. 8, pp. 1354-1370.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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