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Professional Service Firms confronted with management challenges: can democracy be an organizational solution? A case-study in a democratic consulting firm

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Sébastien Gand
Philippe Lefebvre
Jean-Claude Sardas

Résumé

Due to the nature of their inputs, outputs and processes, professional service firms (PSFs) face three generic management challenges, namely strategic management, knowledge management and human-resource management. These three management issues are closely interrelated. They need to be managed in consistent whole patterns in relation to kinds of business activities. Following the typology of Lowendahl (2005 [1997]), 'client relation' and 'adapting solutions' kinds of PSF have consistent overall approaches to the three management issues. But, concerning 'creative problem-solving' ('CPS') PSFs, there is a lack of a consistent overall management approach, This latter can be neither hierarchical management nor self-management. We propose to investigate the democratic management approach as a potential consistent solution for 'CPS' PSFs. To this aim, we draw on a longitudinal in-depth case study in a French democratic consulting firm confronted with the need for managing differentiation between individuals and collective integration. In the last section we discuss the contributions of such a management perspective for PSFs, as well as the difficulties and the contingencies of the case-study.
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Dates et versions

hal-00818099 , version 1 (26-04-2013)

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  • HAL Id : hal-00818099 , version 1

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Sébastien Gand, Philippe Lefebvre, Jean-Claude Sardas. Professional Service Firms confronted with management challenges: can democracy be an organizational solution? A case-study in a democratic consulting firm. EGOS, Apr 2007, Vienne, Austria. ⟨hal-00818099⟩
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