The management consulting industry exhibits characteristics that make it distinct from many other industries. Such peculiarities need to be considered when choosing a research methodology. For example, consulting is a projectbased activity (section As projects are by definition unique and different from each other, the applicability of standard rules and procedures for ‘production’ as included in the concept of formalization is at least challenged. Formalization is a theoretical concept that needs to be operationalized for empirical research by proxy measures that can adopt different values (Bortz, 1999: 10; Bronner et al., 1999: 39; Heinze, 2001: 47; Neuman, 2000: 160). The measures of formalization need to be defined differently than in research on industries such as manufacturing or governmental. Similar arguments can be found for structural differentiation, specialization, and centralization (section 3.3.1) as well as for the task uncertainty contingency42 (section The measures of these theoretical concepts cannot be completely specified in advance but need to be explored from the data in order to then test hypotheses. Explorative research with measures that are not specified before data collection provides a strong argument for choosing a qualitative research methodology (Miles & Huberman, 1994: 11–12; Neuman, 2000: 123, 163, 420; Rynes & Gephart, 2004: 455). As qualitative research is little standardized and “there are no algorithms for producing it” (Rynes & Gephart, 2004: 461), the research methodology is outlined in the following. It is also shown how qualitative elements are combined with quantitative ones.


Theoretical Concept Personal Interview Parent Node Support Staff Organizational Size 
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© Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag | GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2006

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