Ethics in management consulting

Published on September 17, 2015   35 min

Other Talks in the Series: Management Consultancy

Hello. Welcome to Ethics in Management Consultancy. My name is Joe O'Mahoney, I'm a Reader in Organizational Studies at Cardiff University, and Management Consultancy is my specialism.
I'm going to introduce why we want to look at consultancy first of all. A lot of the press recently has been looking at management consultancy and there's been a lot of critique of consultancy and especially the use in the private sector. On this slide we've got a couple of examples. First is Alan Leaman, who's the chair of the Management Consultancies Association arguing that NHS spending on management consultants is not wasteful. On the other side we've got a number of pieces by all types of media outlets arguing that consultants are a waste of money, and especially in the public sector when public money is being spent on them. In addition to that, you've got a whole load of books that have come out recently which are really the sort of 'kiss and tell' exposes of ex-management consultants telling the general public about the tricks that they used to get extra money. So, it's a fairly topical issue which is why we want to look at it. Also, it makes a big difference to the world when consultancy goes wrong or bad things happen, people can lose their jobs, companies can go bankrupt, and economies can occasionally be shaken. So that's why we're looking at this lecture.
Okay, so I'm going to talk briefly about what we're going to cover. First of all, we're going to look at an example that many of you will remember. And this is the example of Enron, which was a big, big mistake but many people don't realize the role of management consultants in making it the disaster that it was. Secondly, we're going to look at some ethical dilemmas and ethical codes, which is the way in which most consulting firms attempt to manage ethics. Then we're going to ask the question, do these things work in terms of managing ethics? The argument I'm going to be giving is that they have a very limited success. One of the reasons for this is the structural issues that are involved in ethics. We'll deal more about this later. But really, the high level socio-economic conflicts of interest, the ethical dilemmas that codes don't succeed in making better. And then, finally, we're going to look at the personal cost of consultancy, which is something that many people don't examine and I think is quite important.