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Publication - Professor Andrew Sturdy

    Power and the diffusion of management ideas

    The Case of McKinsey & Co.


    O'Mahoney, J & Sturdy, AJ, 2016, ‘Power and the diffusion of management ideas: The Case of McKinsey & Co.’. Management Learning, vol 47., pp. 247-265


    In studies of the diffusion or translation of management ideas, power is frequently implied but is rarely theorised explicitly. Moreover, when it is recognised, the focus is often on only one form of power. This can obscure how different forms of power relate to each-other, shape idea diffusion, and connect to different forms of resistance. Using Lukes’ classic framing of power, we explore the activities of a key agent in the diffusion of ideas – management consultancy – and one of the leading players in that field - McKinsey & Co. We draw on diverse, publicly available forms of data on three different management ideas to identify how different forms of power and resistance enable and constrain the diffusion of management ideas. Our study emphasises both the dynamic relations between different forms of power over time and the importance of acknowledging the unintended consequences of power. At the same time, by focusing on power dynamics mostly operating outside of consulting projects, we add to our understanding of the role of consultancy in the diffusion of management ideas more generally.

    Full details in the University publications repository