Strategy shapers: A case study of leading strategy consultancies' views on strategy

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Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Business | Master's thesis
Date
2014
Major/Subject
Organization and Management
Organisaatiot ja johtaminen
Mcode
Degree programme
Language
en
Pages
86
Series
Abstract
During the past century management consulting has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry influencing the decisions made in companies worldwide. Consultants have had an important role in establishing strategy in the field of management as well as in distributing management concepts and knowledge on strategy to their clients across the globe. This this thesis aims to gather in-depth insight on how three leading consultancies, McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company, approach the concept of strategy today. The purpose of this study is to identify how leading strategy consultancies define strategy and analyze what they highlight as the most important strategic issues in the business world right now. The study also seeks to find out what kind of similarities and differences these top-tier consultancies have in their strategy views, expertise and their overarching approach to strategy consulting. The literature review discusses earlier research in the fields of strategy and management consulting. Both fields have evolved extensively and have been strongly bound together during their histories. The literature review sheds some light on the evolution of strategy as a management concept, introducing different approaches that researchers have taken to strategy during its history as dominant management practice. The second half of the review focuses on management consulting, introducing the reader to the history of consulting and discussing different views researchers have had on consultant-client relationships, strategy consultancies as distributors of management ideas and some more recent changes in the field of consulting. The empirical research in this thesis is conducted as a multiple case study, in which the three leading strategy consultancies, McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company, act as individual cases. The research data is collected from the official websites of the case companies, with strict focus on the sections discussing the strategy expertise areas of each company. The individual cases are first analyzed using thematic content analysis. After this phase, a cross-case analysis is conducted between the three individual cases. The three cases are compared according to their views on three themes that emerged from the analysis on the individual cases. The study indicates that the leading strategy consultancies approach strategy and the burning topics in it today and in the future through similar themes. However, while the themes are to a great extent the same from one consultancy to another, the angle with which they approach the issues and the intensity with which they emphasize them varies greatly, as does the overarching view on strategy work at large. The findings also suggest that traditional macro-level views on strategy and consulting are still strongly integrated in many of the views and operations of these consultancies. However, the more contemporary micro-level approaches are also gaining a foothold among the companies, making their advices to managers as well as their operations as consultants a mixture of old and new approaches.
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Keywords
strategy, management consulting, case, cross-case analysis
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