MANAGING ACROSS CULTURES IN A BIG FOUR CONSULTING FIRM
Peter Massingham University of Wollongong
This case examines how a big four consulting firm reviewed the performance of two of its Asian practices. It explores how the review was conducted, the findings, and how the outcomes were communicated. It reveals the challenges faced by Western managers in telling Eastern managers they need to improve their performance. The case is about cross cultural management and organisational structure and control. It offers a fascinating insight into the Board Room of one of the world’s leading consulting firms.
Cross-cultural management Organisational structure and control Management consulting firms East versus West
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Mr Mosman felt that the key to improving the Asian practices’ performance was business development. He assumed that the main reason for their slow market growth was their lack of marketing skills. Therefore, he felt Farquar would be ideal to lead these reviews. Mr Mosman asked Farquar to identify the nature of the problem and how to fix it. He told Farquar to transfer a ‘best practice’ approach to business development to the Asian practices. He also implied that if Farquar did a good job with reviewing the Taiwanese and Indian practices, he would probably be asked to look at each practice in Asia. Mr Mosman concluded by saying that Mr John Hotch would be Farquar’s main liaison point in Taiwan. Mr Hotch was a senior United Kingdom partner who was also the Asia Regional Partner. While he did not have line responsibility over the Managing Partners in each country, he did have a ‘watchdog’ role in monitoring the activities of the Asian practices. Mr Hotch was based in Taiwan. He was not a member of the Taiwan practice. He was also very supportive of the study. He asked that Taiwan be included in the initial two ‘pilot studies’ because he a) had a personal interest in the Taiwan practice and b) it was where he was based. The International Marketing Committee originally chose the Indonesian practice as the other pilot study because it was perceived to be most in need of help. However, the Indian practice