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The inaugural Urwick Lecture: 11 September 2017

Professors Will Harvey and Tim Morris discuss their research, which focuses on how management consultancies can change their reputations...

The company has regularly awarded the Urwick Prize at the annual Education Supper, but this year we asked the winners to also give a lecture on their research that led to this award.

The Urwick Lecture 2017

This event was the first to be sponsored by the Company’s new Centre for Management Consulting Excellence, and we hope that the Urwick Lecture will become a regular item in the Company’s calendar.

Like the Change Lecture earlier in the year, the Urwick Lecture was given at the Warwick in London campus, thanks again to the sponsorship of the Dean, Professor Abhinay Muthoo. Some 40 members of the Company and guests heard Professors Will Harvey and Tim Morris discuss their research, which

Professor Will Harvey, Exeter Business

focuses on how management consultancies can change their reputations. This is important in the sector given the customised and co-produced nature of professional services.

They went on to discuss their current research which explores how a large global management consulting firm has sought to change its reputation from its historical strength in restructuring to a focus on strategy work. They draw on an extensive dataset, including interviews, focus groups, workshops, archival material and media reports in multiple countries over several years.

Their results show that clients have a clear sense of the firm’s expertise; for example it is perceived as being strong on operations, efficiency and tailoring their service to the client. Clients also have a strong sense of what the firm lacks, including thought leadership, strength in depth and an elite status.

Professor Tim Morris, Said Business 
School, University of Oxford

Drawing on this in-depth case study, they provided a theoretical model for how management consultancy firms can change their reputations, suggesting a focus on four areas:

- First, clearly understanding their expertise in relation to their competitors.

- Second, strengthening their existing client offer.

- Third, being confident and not defensive in relation to their expertise claims.

- Fourth, ensuring that what they brand at a corporate level closely aligns with what they sell through their partners when pitching for work.

Focusing on the above steps can help management consultancies to craft a new reputation.


Their talk provoked a lively question and answer session, with many present recounting some of their personal experiences in dealing with similar challenges – a discussion that continued into enjoying refreshments together afterwards.







Calvert Markham - Father of the Livery