Management consulting firms as institutional agents:strategies for creating and sustaining institutional capital

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Reihlen, Markus ; Smets, Michael ; Veit, Andreas (2010)

We classify the strategies by which management consultancies can create and sustain the institutional capital that makes it possible for them to extract competitive resources from their institutional context. Using examples from the German consulting industry, we show how localized competitive actions can enhance both individual firms’ positions, and also strengthen the collective institutional capital of the consulting industry thus legitimizing consulting services in broader sectors of society and facilitating access to requisite resources. Our findings counter the image of institutional entrepreneurship as individualistic, “heroic” action. We demonstrate how distributed, embedded actors can collectively shape the institutional context from within to enhance their institutional capital.
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