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The World's Newest Profession

The World's Newest Profession
Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century

$47.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in the Emergence of Global Enterprise

  • Date Published: June 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521810395

$ 47.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • In The World's Newest Profession, Christopher McKenna offers a history of management consulting in the twentieth century. While 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 and Booz Allen, expanded after U.S. 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 numbers, 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.

    • Offers unprecedented access to internal files and prominent individuals, providing a rich history of management consulting in the twentieth century
    • Shows influence of management consultants on organizations such as NASA, Yale University, IBM, Presbyterian Church, and the Bank of England
    • Innovative explanation of Enron/Andersen crisis through historical, regulatory, and legal analysis
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "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

    "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, Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

    "If you use consultants, or claim to be a consultant, you should read this book."
    -Charles Wilson, CEO, Booker Ltd.

    "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, Managing Director, 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, Professor of Education & Sociology, 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, Professor of Economics & History, 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, 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, The Wall Street Journal Europe

    "It is an exhaustive account of the history of management consultancy that has been several years in the making. Although academic thoroughness is one of its chief merits, the book remains readable and entertaining throughout. McKenna's serious and not unsympathetic approach allows him to debunk certain myths about consultancy without falling into the trap of becoming an unthinking critic. It is a sober and truthful antidote to all the glossy consultancy marketing brochures that promise "strategic solutions" and "value-added" analysis."
    -Stefan Stern, Financial Times

    "Well-researched, thoughtful."

    "...this is a fascinating book whose accessible and clear writing style should ensure a wide readership. The footnotes provide a wonderful resource for any student of management consulting and knowledge-intensive firms. Its broad sweep and rich detail mean that it is destined to become a key text in this area."
    -Timothy Clark, Durham University, Administrative Science Quarterly

    "This groundbreaking study details how the leading consulting companies expanded after U.S. regulatory changes during the 1930s."
    -Abstracts of Public Administration, Development, and Environment

    'Christopher D. McKenna's masterful, impeccably researched, prize-winning study of management consulting exemplifies the best that business history has to offer to the larger historical profession, the business community, and to those who shape the public policy."
    Albert Churella, Southern Polytechnic State University Journal of American History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2006
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521810395
    • length: 394 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 161 x 27 mm
    • weight: 0.65kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: making a career of consulting
    1. Economies of knowledge: a theory of management consulting
    2. Accounting for a new profession: consultants' struggle for jurisdictional power
    3. How have consultants mattered? The case of Lukens Steel
    4. Creating the contractor state: consultants in the American Federal Government
    5. Finding profit in nonprofits: the influence of consultants on the third sector
    6. The gilded age of consulting: a snapshot of consultants circa 1960
    7. The American challenge: exporting the American model
    8. Selling corporate culture: codifying and commodifying professionalism
    9. Watchdogs, lapdogs, or retrievers? Liability and the rebirth of the management audit
    Conclusion: the world's newest profession?

  • Author

    Christopher D. McKenna, University of Oxford
    Christopher D. McKenna is Reader in Business History and Strategy at the Said Business School, University of Oxford.

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