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Management consultant meets a potential client for the first time: the pre‐entry phase of consultancy in SMEs and the issues of qualitative research methodology

Ivana Adamson (Ivana Adamson is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sunderland Business School, Sunderland, UK)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 1 March 2000

Abstract

The day‐to‐day operations in small to medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) tend to reach a bottleneck before the owner‐managers think of engaging an external expertise to help. By then the situation is often difficult to salvage, and management consultants tend to get blamed for the outcomes. In this study, 40 management consultants were asked to allow a researcher to be present during their first meeting with a potential client. Four agreed. The objective of this study was to evaluate a model of pre‐entry phase of consultancy behaviour against the real‐life interaction, in which two parties attempt to choose the best problem‐solving partner. The findings suggest that, far from management consultants and potential clients behaving in a rational way, as proposed by the pre‐entry phase model of consultancy, each partner brought into the interaction their personal agenda, therefore taking the interaction processes away from the “purely business” rational level, as present management literature suggests. This has some important implications for the research methodologies used to study SMEs.

Keywords

Citation

Adamson, I. (2000), "Management consultant meets a potential client for the first time: the pre‐entry phase of consultancy in SMEs and the issues of qualitative research methodology", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 17-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/13522750010310415

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

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