Exploring the identity of an embedded micro-consultant in an organisation change environment

  • Andrew Hunt

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Micro-consultants are from small independent consultancy practices; who sometimes work directly with a single client on embedded assignments. Embedded microconsultants operate within the ambiguous and fragmented environments of their client’s. Micro-consultants have to quickly make sense of their client’s working environments; adapting their operations and identities within these, to ensure appropriate advice and support is provided. When embedded, micro-consultants are usually expected to represent their client; whilst also retaining their independence. Consequently, micro-consultants can sometimes be unsure who they represent (themselves or their client) and which identity aspects they should be promoting. Identity is the sum of, lifestyle, experiences and knowledge of an individual which is developed over time, and provides awareness and guidance for future activities. To some extent micro-consultants can choose which aspects of their identity they wish to promote or suppress. However, some groups can enforce aspects of their identity on their members which can contradict the micro-consultant’s base awareness and guidelines which can lead to dilemmas and uncertainties. This research explores the interactions, changing identities and ensuing tensions of a micro-consultant during a long term embedded assignment with a single client. The ethnographic study uses authoethnographic narrative, along with participant observation techniques and reflective practices, to provide insights on the key influences and other factors which can affect micro-consultant identities. This thesis also provides an indication of the complexities and ambiguities faced by a micro-consultant working on an embedded assignment. The research also highlights some of the many dilemmas and uncertainties facing a micro-consultant in this environment; focussing on identity related dilemmas. These lead to a number of identity related paradoxes for the micro-consultant; including assignment success, relationships and the provision of knowledge. There have been many corporate ethnographic studies examining different parts of organisation behaviour, including consultancy houses and organisation change environments. However, this is the first study to provide detailed insights into the world of a micro-consultant change management specialist, his operations interactions and dilemmas; providing a significant contribution to the world of management consultancy and organisation behaviour.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish


    • Organizational change
    • Business consultants

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