Capturing the competence of management consulting work

Klaasjan Visscher (Faculty of Business, Public Administration and Technology, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 1 June 2006



The purpose of this article is to assess whether the effort of consulting firms and branch organizations to establish a shared and standardized methodology as a means to professionalize consulting and as a standard for training is possible and sensible.


A survey was conducted among Dutch management consultants, which explored their ways of working and their ways of learning.


The study shows that efforts to develop a shared and standardized phase‐model methodology do not seem to be effective. Instead of following phase‐models, consultants appear to be improvising bricoleurs, tailoring their ways of working to specific situations, and using broad, heterogeneous and partly implicit repertoires, which are built through mainly through action‐learning. This requires another kind of methodology and another kind of training.

Research limitations/implications

The article gives a general direction for the development of a consulting methodology and the education of consultants. Further research on consulting practices and repertoires is necessary to explore this direction.

Practical implications

The paper concludes that the value of phase‐models as a standard is limited. Therefore, branch organizations, consulting firms and corporate universities should not focus their professionalization and training activities on these standardized methods.


Little work has been done yet on the relation between professionalization, methods, and training in management consulting, and no earlier publication has studied this topic quantitatively.



Visscher, K. (2006), "Capturing the competence of management consulting work", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 248-260.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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