A person who offers advice on a commercial basis to an organization. Normally, a consultant will be brought in to solve a particular problem or set of problems identified by managers within the organization, or to advise on a change programme. The consultant is supposed to offer independent expertise and bring a fresh view, uncontaminated by previous experiences within the organization and by organizational politics. In reality, of course, the consultant will have his or her own prejudices and preferred solutions, and will become embroiled in organizational politics through the consultancy process. Sceptics argue that external consultants rarely tell organizations anything they do not already know and are nothing more than pawns that help the most influential managers get the solution they wanted. Some of the fiercest cynics are managers, who argue that consultants do not have to live with the consequences of their ideas—they walk away from the organization and are not accountable for any problems or difficulties that occur. However, management consultancy is a thriving and lucrative business, particularly due to the perceived need for constant change amongst organizations operating in dynamic environments. [See internal consultant.]
Subjects: Human Resource Management.