Travailler le client pour « réussir » une mission. Ethnographie d’une expérience de conseil en stratégie

Abstract : Why are consultants (almost) always successful in their assignments? Concise and somewhat provocative as it is, this assertion conceals a common paradox in consultancy work: despite however much criticism they attract, consultants providing consultancy services for public or private organisations are seldom challenged. In other words, they are often “successful” in their assignments, if success refers not to actual performance (in any case difficult to assess), but to their ability to neutralise doubts about the value of their contribution. Drawing on experience in strategic consultancy, this article explores the concrete conditions underpinning this “success”. It argues that, despite the genuine expertise that consultants bring, a successful assignment is also the result of “work” on the client that entails, in the case study, three kinds of relational skills: the recruitment of actors within the client structure (to turn them into active collaborators), the development of complicity (through the redefinition of existing professional boundaries) and the management of power relations (by building alliances with specific actors).
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01670751
Contributor : François-Mathieu Poupeau <>
Submitted on : Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 4:09:35 PM
Last modification on : Monday, June 25, 2018 - 2:32:34 PM

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François-Mathieu Poupeau. Travailler le client pour « réussir » une mission. Ethnographie d’une expérience de conseil en stratégie. Sociologie du Travail, Elsevier Masson, 2017, 59 (4), ⟨10.4000/sdt.1392⟩. ⟨halshs-01670751⟩

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