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Economic Advice and Rhetoric

Why do Consultants Perform Better than Academic Advisers? Onno Bouwmeester, Associate Professor in Management Consulting, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This book compares the approaches of consultants and academic advisers and provides an in-depth analysis of their advice argumentation. Both compete on the market for economic advice, with consultants enjoying a larger market share and usually obtaining higher fees. However, academics criticize them for overcharging, shallowness, and quick-and-dirty methods. So, are consultants’ clients misled or even cheated? Not necessarily. The book reveals that academics have drawbacks as well; their arguments are less balanced than those of consultants and their estimates contradict each other more.
Extent: 320 pp
Hardback Price: $149.00 Web: $134.10
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 978 1 84844 263 4
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This book compares the approaches of consultants and academic advisers and provides an in-depth analysis of their advice argumentation. Both compete on the market for economic advice, with consultants enjoying a larger market share and usually obtaining higher fees. However, academics criticize them for overcharging, shallowness, and quick-and-dirty methods. So, are consultants’ clients misled or even cheated? Not necessarily. The book reveals that academics have drawbacks as well; their arguments are less balanced than those of consultants and their estimates contradict each other more.

Economic Advice and Rhetoric argues that clients should be cautious, challenging academics to reconsider their understanding of consulting practices. Onno Bouwmeester illustrates that the instrumental concept of academic advice as assumed by mainstream economists and policy scientists does not guide the practice of academic advisers and thus creates wrong expectations. He deconstructs the current understanding of academic advice, and counters the view held by critical academics that consultants’ rhetoric is misleading by comparing it to the rhetoric of academics.

This rhetorical analysis will be informative to academics and advisors with an interest in the subject of consulting. Students aiming to become consultants, as well as consultants who want to learn more about academic advisers as their competitors, will also find this book an invaluable resource.
‘In this well-written book Bouwmeester examines how consultants compare with academic advisers in offering consulting services to clients. . . Bouwmeester’s effort in exploring the study of rhetoric makes a positive contribution to the literature by providing a useful theoretical framework. Bouwmeester contributes to our understanding of the relationship between consultants and academic advisors in ways that have not been documented before. Such a contribution is important as it opens up new research opportunities and discussion for understanding the similarities, but also differences, between the two groups.’
– Stephanos Avakian, Management Learning
Contents: Preface 1. Introduction: Consultants and Academics in Competition 2. Consultants’ and Academics’ Views on Advice 3. Advice Analysis and Rhetoric 4. Espoused Theory of Advice Argumentation 5. Advice on Further Growth of Amsterdam Airport 6. Advice on Liberalization in the Electricity Market 7. Conclusions and Discussion 8. Advice on Advice Reports Discussed in the Cases References Index