Managers as consultants: The hybridity and tensions of neo-bureaucratic management

Andrew J Sturdy, Christopher Wright, Nick Wylie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
761 Downloads (Pure)


The nature and extent of changes in management remain subject to debate, especially around the notion of post-bureaucracy. Most research concedes that, partly in response to critiques of bureaucracy, some change has occurred, but towards hybrid or neo-bureaucratic practices which retain core elements of bureaucratic organisation. However, both the mechanisms through which these changes have occurred and their outcomes have received less attention. This paper addresses these issues by focusing on a form of management that closely resembles images of neo-bureaucratic managers (project-based, change focused and advisory in style). Drawing on interview-based research in the UK and Australia, the paper examines the use of consulting practices and orientations in management roles. It shows how tensions of management and organization are both reproduced and changed, rather than resolved through the hybridity of neo-bureaucracy. Thus, rather than downplaying or heralding changes in management work towards a ‘new spirit of capitalism’, we focus on one context in which such changes are occurring and point to some wider implications for both management and consultancy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-205
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Structured keywords

  • Perspectives on Work


  • Consultancy
  • consultant manager
  • hybridity
  • ideal type
  • managerial work
  • neo-bureaucracy
  • post-bureaucracy
  • tensions
  • Sociology


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