The best and the brightest: The construction, significance and effects of elite identities in consultancy firms

Alvesson, M. and Robertson, M. (2006) The best and the brightest: The construction, significance and effects of elite identities in consultancy firms. Organization, 13 2: 195-224. doi:10.1177/1350508406061674

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Author Alvesson, M.
Robertson, M.
Title The best and the brightest: The construction, significance and effects of elite identities in consultancy firms
Journal name Organization   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1350-5084
1461-7323
Publication date 2006-03-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/1350508406061674
Open Access Status
Volume 13
Issue 2
Start page 195
End page 224
Total pages 30
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage
Language eng
Subject 150310 Organisation and Management Theory
Abstract The aim of this paper is to investigate the forms, significance and effects of elite identity constructions in four consulting firms based in the UK and Sweden. The paper examines a range of strategic and symbolic mechanisms that were used by the senior members and other actors of these firms to construct an elite organizational identity. In terms of general effects, an elite social identity was found to generate a 'neoliberal' form of governance in all of the cases such that consultants could be trusted to act and behave in the interests of the firm. We argue that elite constructions facilitated: (i) the promotion of self-discipline which sustained a want to accomplish high standards of performance; (ii) the attraction and retention of consultants; (iii) the securing of an image that clients were prepared to engage with; and (iv) a degree of 'ontological security'-a relatively secure sense of self-which enabled consultants to function effectively in high-ambiguity and somewhat sceptical (with respect to clients) work contexts. In the contexts discussed here, consultants not only managed themselves, but they also intensified the commitment to live an organizational life that demanded high standards and often very long working days.
Keyword Consultancy firms
Control
Identity
Knowledge work
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Faculty of Business, Economics and Law -- Publications
Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 84 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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