Patterns of human resource management in consulting firms

Ansgar Richter (European Business School, Wiesbaden, Germany)
Michael Dickmann (Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)
Michael Graubner (European Business School, Wiesbaden, Germany)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 8 February 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the human resource management (HRM) policies and practices in consulting firms. The paper specifically investigates whether or not the HRM approaches in these firms mirror the two organisational archetypes of professional partnerships (P2) and manage professional businesses (MPB) found in the professional services sector.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on interviews with experienced consultants from a sample of 28 large and medium‐sized consulting firms with a presence in Germany and Switzerland. The paper uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate the data.

Findings

The findings in the paper show that P2‐type consulting firms take fundamentally different approaches to HRM from MPB‐type firms. In P2‐type consulting firms, HRM is an integral part of the organisational system and is run in practice by consultants, rather than by specialised HR staff. P2‐type firms emphasise the notion of membership of individuals in an organisation tied together by extended socialisation processes and adherence to common values. In contrast, MPB‐type firms exhibit HRM systems with “corporate” features widely used in other large‐scale service organisations.

Research limitations/implications

The paper shows that the organisational archetypes prevalent in professional service firms have significant implications for their HRM systems. Consulting firms' HRM practices and policies should be interpreted in the light of their respective organisational archetype.

Practical implications

The paper concludes that consulting firms should use HRM practices that fit the organisational archetype they embody.

Originality/value

The paper provides systematic evidence on the HRM policies and practices in an important yet under‐researched sector.

Keywords

Citation

Richter, A., Dickmann, M. and Graubner, M. (2008), "Patterns of human resource management in consulting firms", Personnel Review, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 184-202. https://doi.org/10.1108/00483480810850533

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.