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‘Commoditized Expertise’?: Orders of Worth in Management Consulting

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Title: ‘Commoditized Expertise’?: Orders of Worth in Management Consulting
Author: Daoleuxay, Yvonne
Department: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Program: Sociology
Advisor: Horgan, Mervyn
Abstract: The management consulting occupation has experienced tremendous growth in Canada since the Second World War, especially within the public service. Existing research on management consulting in Canada has focused on explaining the increased use of management consulting services by Canadian governments. While existing studies highlight the provision of expertise as one reason for the increased use of consultants by the public sector, little attention has been paid to the perceptions of consultants and, in particular, what they mean when they self-identify as experts. Since management consulting is not a “true profession” in the sense that it does not have a cohesive code of conduct or set of standards, a plurality of perspectives and position-taking may be discovered through French pragmatic sociology. This thesis uses the orders of worth framework to explore how management consultants across four provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia – conceptualize expertise and attach meaning to their work. The results of this study suggest that the concept of expertise is fluid and how it is defined depends heavily upon the nature of the consulting project. Additionally, results indicate that varying levels of enjoyment are attached to consulting projects, depending upon the type of expertise that is required.
Date: 2017-10
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