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The active client: The boundary-spanning roles of internal consultants as gatekeepers, brokers and partners of their external counterparts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485 - 503
JournalManagement Learning
Volume42, 5
DatePublished - 2011


This article examines the active client of management consultancy as a key agent in managing and mediating knowledge flows across organisational boundaries. From a qualitative study of a particular case of active clients - internal consultants managing their external counterparts - three boundary-spanning roles are identified. Active clients can act as a ‘gatekeeper’, ‘broker’ and ‘partner’ with respect to both consultants and the knowledge they bring. These roles are shown to vary according to a client’s expertise, formal project responsibilities and personal reputation, as well as the different phases of consulting projects. They not only elucidate an otherwise neglected or static dimension of management consultancy – client activity - but highlight the dynamic and essentially political character of serving as knowledge barriers and/or bridges in the intermediation and co-production of management knowledge across organisational boundaries.

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Publisher: Sage



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