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The World's Newest Profession
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  • Cited by 129
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Croidieu, Grégoire and Kim, Phillip H. 2018. Labor of Love: Amateurs and Lay-expertise Legitimation in the Early U.S. Radio Field. Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 63, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Reed, Cara 2018. Professionalizing corporate professions: Professionalization as identity project. Management Learning, Vol. 49, Issue. 2, p. 222.

    Bruce, Joshua R. de Figueiredo, John M. and Silverman, Brian S. 2018. Public contracting for private innovation: Government capabilities, decision rights, and performance outcomes. Strategic Management Journal,

    Pantic-Dragisic, Svjetlana and Söderlund, Jonas 2018. On the move to stay current: Knowledge cycling and scheduled labor mobility. Management Learning, Vol. 49, Issue. 4, p. 429.

    2018. Best Practice. p. 91.

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    Waisberg, Isaac and Nelson, Andrew 2018. When the General Meets the Particular: The Practices and Challenges of Interorganizational Knowledge Reuse. Organization Science, Vol. 29, Issue. 3, p. 432.

    Salverda, Tijo and Skovgaard-Smith, Irene 2018. Attribution and contestation: Relations between elites and other social groups. Critique of Anthropology, Vol. 38, Issue. 3, p. 265.

    2018. Best Practice. p. 131.

    Sturdy, Andrew 2018. Promoting solutions and co-constructing problems – management consultancy and instrument constituencies. Policy and Society, Vol. 37, Issue. 1, p. 74.

    Hansen, Nina Katrin and Schnittka, Oliver 2018. Applicants’ likelihood to apply for jobs at professional service firms: The role of different career models. Human Resource Management, Vol. 57, Issue. 5, p. 1009.

    2018. Best Practice. p. 151.

    Hurl, Chris 2018. Operationalizing austerity: the role of transnational professional service firms in local government restructuring. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, Vol. 31, Issue. 1, p. 55.

    Bodrožić, Zlatko and Adler, Paul S. 2018. The Evolution of Management Models: A Neo-Schumpeterian Theory. Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 63, Issue. 1, p. 85.

    2018. Best Practice. p. 110.

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    Sturdy, Andrew and O’Mahoney, Joe 2018. Explaining national variation in the use of management consulting knowledge: A framework. Management Learning, Vol. 49, Issue. 5, p. 537.

    Stein, Felix 2018. Selling Speed: Management Consultants, Acceleration, and Temporal Angst. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Vol. 41, Issue. S1, p. 103.

    Pantic-Dragisic, Svjetlana and Borg, Elisabeth 2018. Creating the mobile engineer: a study of a training program for engineering consultants. European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 42, Issue. 7/8, p. 381.


Book description

In The World's Newest Profession Christopher McKenna offers a history of management consulting in the twentieth century. Although management consulting may not yet be a recognized profession, the leading consulting firms have been advising and reshaping the largest organizations in the world since the 1920s. This groundbreaking study details how the elite consulting firms, including McKinsey & Company and Booz Allen & Hamilton, expanded after US regulatory changes during the 1930s, how they changed giant corporations, nonprofits, and the state during the 1950s, and why consultants became so influential in the global economy after 1960. As they grew in number, consultants would introduce organizations to 'corporate culture' and 'decentralization' but they faced vilification for their role in the Enron crisis and for legitimating corporate blunders. Through detailed case studies based on unprecedented access to internal files and personal interviews, The World's Newest Profession explores how management consultants came to be so influential within our culture and explains exactly what consultants really do in the global economy.


'If you use consultants, or claim to be a consultant, you should read this book.'

Charles Wilson - CEO, Booker Ltd.

'This book should be required reading for everyone who teaches at a business school, as well as for all MBA students. I recommend it to anyone interested in the upheavals around corporate governance and professional ethics that marked the turn of the 21st century.'

JoAnne Yates - MIT Sloan School of Management

'McKenna has unearthed the distinctly American origins of modern consulting in the evolution of financial market regulation - surprisingly and convincingly.'

John Clarkeson - co-Chairman of the Board, The Boston Consulting Group

'Witch doctors or miracle workers? Whatever your view of management consultants, it pays to understand how the world's leading consulting firms have become so influential. McKenna's superb history reveals how one crucial piece of US legislation - the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act - and one vibrant American city - Chicago - spawned an industry that has transformed the face of global business and national government in the 20th century.'

Martin Giles - The Economist Group, North America

'Fascinating, frightening, and perfectly timed - McKenna's sweeping survey shines a brilliant light on a profession that has always preferred to keep outsiders in the dark.'

Martin Kihn - author of House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time

'McKenna opens the private world of management consulting to his keen analytical eye, providing a rich, absorbing accounting of the rise and expansion of this profession, and a sharp critique of consulting's role in shaping the strategies of the world's largest corporations. This is a fascinating, revealing book about a profession that has received little serious, sustained scholarly attention.'

Walter W. Powell - Stanford University

'This history of management consulting analyses an important stream of the history of modern business itself. Today's managers can put its insights to practical use when engaging - or deciding not to engage - consultants.'

Tony Tyler - Chief Operating Office, Cathay Pacific Airways

'McKenna's book does a superb job of exploring the role that this industry played in transforming (not always for the better) a variety of different types of organizations - from businesses to religious and charitable associations to government agencies - and through them much of the fabric of modern life.'

Naomi Lamoreaux - University of California, Los Angeles

'History is not bunk. With Glass-Steagall repealed and the aftershocks of the Enron scandal by no means over, the timing of The World's Newest Profession could hardly be more fortuitous. McKenna's breadth of scholarship and clarity of argument will undoubtedly sit, like Banquo's ghost, at the consulting banquet for years to come.'

Fiona Czerniawska Source: Consulting to Management

'McKenna offers a lively look at a profession that has often been shrouded in secrecy, and shows how it has become enormously lucrative - although not always as a result of the quality of advice being doled out. Interesting and provocative, McKenna's book offers a lens to understand the development of the modern corporation.'

Jon Housman - Managing Director of The Wall Street Journal Europe

'Intriguing revelations are contained in Chris McKenna's important new book. His timing is perfect. … Although academic thoroughness is one of its chief merits, the book remains readable and entertaining throughout. … It is a sober and truthful antidote to all the glossy consultancy brochures that promise 'strategic solutions' and 'value-added' analysis.'

Source: Financial Times

'A highly readable account of the rise of the management-consultancy phenomenon. McKenna is admirably balanced: not starry-eyed about the serious men in suits, but neither is he sneeringly cynical. Explains a lot about how businesses are run today.'

Source: Financial Times Magazine

'… the author has … done [one] of the most important things that he sets out to do which is to bring to the attention of current and future management consultants a knowledge of the development of their profession.'

Source: The Business Economist

‘The World’s Newest Profession documents the rise of management consulting in the United States. … It is a novel study that deserves the attention of business historians, management professors, and organizational scholars.’

Neil Fligstein Source: Business History Review

‘[The World’s Newest Profession] is a compelling, well-told story that goes a long way toward explaining the ubiquity, intentions, and limitations of modern management consultants. The book makes an important contribution to the literatures on professionalization, on twentieth-century business history in the United States, and on corporate culture.’

Christopher Tassava Source: Enterprise and Society

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