The best and the brightest: The construction, significance and effects of elite identities in consulting firms

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The aim of this paper is to investigate the forms, significance and effects of elite identity constructions in four consulting firms based in the UK and Sweden. The paper examines a range of strategic and symbolic mechanisms that were used by the senior members and other actors of these firms to construct an elite organizational identity. In terms of general effects, an elite social identity was found to generate a 'neoliberal' form of governance in all of the cases such that consultants could be trusted to act and behave in the interests of the firm. We argue that elite constructions facilitated: (i) the promotion of self-discipline which sustained a want to accomplish high standards of performance; (ii) the attraction and retention of consultants; (iii) the securing of an image that clients were prepared to engage with; and (iv) a degree of 'ontological security'-a relatively secure sense of self-which enabled consultants to function effectively in high-ambiguity and somewhat sceptical (with respect to clients) work contexts. In the contexts discussed here, consultants not only managed themselves, but they also intensified the commitment to live an organizational life that demanded high standards and often very long working days.


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Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

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Sidor (från-till)195-224
Utgåva nummer2
StatusPublished - 2006
Peer review utfördJa