Client-consultant relationships: An analysis of the client role from the client’s perspective

Lars Christian Jespersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Literature on consulting often takes the perspective of the consultant. As a gap in the literature can be identified what concerns the role of the client in the client-consultant relationship this thesis focuses on the question: how do managers perceive the consultant in their organization? Methodology The methodology being used in this thesis is hermeneutics in order to reflect on the informants expressions about how they view and perceive a consultant. Findings In general, it can be assumed that clients have a clear understanding of consultants. Both the assumed roles in which they are expected to act for both client and consultant as well as how the nature of the assignment affects their relationship. The client managers were well aware of the fact that the presence of a consultant demanded something from them as clients. Otherwise, the consultant would run amok and invent new projects if the consultant was not told about the background for his employment. In the phase of selecting a consultant, reputation and experience became very important to the client managers. Both in terms of the agency he represented, as well as how they perceived the consultant as a person. Common for all the interviewed managers was that they understood consultants, both positively and negatively. Positively, in the sense that the consultants were seen as experts who could both challenge their understanding and give them an objective, neutral perspective to a certain problem in their organisation. Negatively, when consultants were hired to overtake management responsibilities or when clients experienced a pre-packaged solution. Especially, the selection process of hiring consultants was crucial as the clients would not know the quality of the service they bought. It was also common that clients in general wanted to be in control and keep the consultant on a short leash. Their main responsibility as clients was to make sure that they were not too impressed by the consultant, and made sure that the knowledge provided by the consultant was valuable for the company. Furthermore it was important for clients to keep an inside perspective and still reflect on how the recommendations by consultants would affect their own business and moreover their own perception of their challenges.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages70