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Ritualism, Symbolism and Magic in Consultancy Practice: An Exploratory Investigation

By Gbolahan Gbadamosi

Abstract

Purpose – The paper is an exploratory attempt to examine the practice of management consultancy and the cultural components of rituals, symbolism and magic in Botswana. Management consultants as catalytic agents of change remain relevant in organisational life and this study aims to investigate how they are perceived and how they perform their tasks in the African context. \ud Design/methodology/approach – In-depth unstructured interviews were conducted with seven top management consultancy firms in Botswana, who agreed to participate in the study, focusing on six key research questions. \ud Findings – Findings revealed that the role of cultural values, while relevant, does not affect actual consultancy practice. It also establishes that consultation process is limited to mainly big organisations and government departments. The activities of consultants may be ritualistic to the extent of repetitiveness; there are also symbolic practices, there is, however, no evidence of superstitious or magical acts. \ud Research limitations/implications – Qualitative data generally struggles with the accusation of researchers bias, while a sample size of seven consultants, certainly limits the generalisability of the findings, how much can we possibly learn from such a small size? \ud Practical implications – The need to reposition the consultation process for long-term survival in the non-Western context by inculcating indigenous values and mores was discussed as well as other policy implications. \ud Originality/value – The paper demonstrates the need for a re-conceptualisation of what should constitute an effective management consultancy practice in non-Western settings. Since managers are not divorced from their socio-cultural environment their mental images reflect axioms that are deeply located in the uniqueness of their cultural settings

Topics: HD28
Publisher: Emerald
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.eprints.org:81

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