Management Gurus​

Published 09 Dec 2016


This paper discusses the view points of some writers regarding the management gurus industry. There is a growing trend in organizations towards relying heavily on gurus to identify and help resolve problems. However, the paper argues whether they should be relied upon or not as past trends show that they don’t give substantial results despite their exorbitant fees.

In today’s world of cut throat competition it has become eminent for firms to employ the most efficient methods of utilizing resources-any loopholes and the company could go downhill. The trend to rely on management consultants, or as they are called gurus, in the business jargon, emerged in the 1980s. There was a shift towards an age of information and technology and in some firms consultants run the show. Wherever one looks management theorists are changing the laws, reshaping businesses and the way they are conducted, introducing new business terms and language and most importantly moulding people’s lives. With the changing global business scenario especially with the rise of Japan, the spread of computers and the drastic change in the working patterns firms have increasingly relied on consultants to find solutions to their business problems.

Firms rely on outsourcing consultants because they when faced with a problem, firms sometimes have mind blocks and can’t seem to figure out the reasons causing the problem and consultant is hired to find exactly that. He has had a variety of experience in different problem situations in other firms and brings in innovative ideas to resolve situations. This gives him an edge to see things from another angle helping to resolve the problem. He is well versed and is able to give valuable strategies, make way for the organization globally and give strategies to survive and grow it and reorganize the human resource to its most efficient use. Also, a consultant has an unbiased approach and can offer a lot of techniques that assist in making decisions more objectively than subjectively.

He has no self interest vested in the firm and thus he seeks to find solutions that benefit the firm and not any inpidual. His experience also enable him to judge what techniques apply in what situation and whether a suggested technique would work in a given business problem or not. A consultant, since he has the ability to have a bird’s eye view of the firm and its problems will tend to focus only on the problem or a set of problem that the firm is facing rather than deviating. This is something that an employee of the firm might not be able to do. (Halbert 2002)

However some argue whether companies should hire consultants or not mostly because there are times when consultants can’t resolve the issues of the firm. It is very important that the firm hire the right consultant for the firm or things could really go wrong.

For this the firm has to do its homework right and spot a consultant who can understand the integrities of the problem existing in the firm. Also, some argue that hiring consultants is very expensive. For the past few years, industry trends have been changing especially in large companies who want to hire consultants on a long term basis realise that consultants are expensive and there are times when the firm doesn’t see a measurable return on investment when they are looking for more tangible results. Firms spend endlessly without substantial differences in the firms and even after years of consultation, there are times when the firms remain as confused as they were before them.

Consultants sometimes offer strategies that take years instead of months to implement which turns out to be good for them but not for businesses especially small ones. It is also argued that management gurus present theories that mostly don’t make sense, and their theories at times pull institutions and inpiduals into conflicting situations. Like the theory of “trust” which would keep knowledge workers loyal and productive yet at the same time they also talk of flexibility which is short for firing people. Most management consultants haven’t figured out whether it is important to be either go global or be local, to be big or small, to work in the interest of shareholders or the or stakeholders and they themselves can’t figure this out, they obviously can’t advice the managers of the firm in the best of the company’s interest.

Another concern is that as consultants people it is essential that they have good chemistry with the employees of the firm. If they get along its great but if they don’t then it could really hamper the workings of the firm and hinder both the managers and consultants.

When working with consultants the firm has to be vigilant and can’t leave everything on the consultants. He has to be checked and monitored. His plan ad direction has to be discussed and periodic reports have to be submitted by him. The firm has to be sure what he is doing is the right thing and therefore keep a check on him or the firm could have accelerating problems. (Micklethwait)

Management gurus are heavily relied upon and a whole new industry of gurus has evolved over the years. It seems to be a solution to hire a consultant when a firm faces issues but larger companies especially Fortune 500 companies are realising increasingly that they don’t give results that match the investments and are now seeking to partner with consultants instead of contracting with them. This could change the whole business scenario and industry trend. For now firms depend upon the gurus for their survival and change strategies to resolve issues but what the future holds for the industry is yet to be seen.


  • Micklethwait, J. Management Gurus: Charlatans or Visionaries? Excerpts from The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus.
  • Halbert, J (2002). Good consultants can boost efficiency of businesses.
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