Area of Expertise
- Business - Education
- Business History
- Management Consulting
- Mergers and Acquisitions
My research focuses on the international transfer of management knowledge with a particular interest in the evolution and role of management consulting firms and management education. I have studied the influence of U.S. American management models in Europe and Japan and the role of consultants in spreading these models. Recently I have started a new research project, which looks at the long-term economic and social effect of takeovers on the acquired company and its local and regional environment.
Behlül Üsdiken, Matthias Kipping and Lars Engwall (2021), "Professional School Obsession: An Enduring Yet Shifting Rhetoric By U.S. Business Schools", Academy of Management Learning and Education, 20(3), 442-458.
Over the past two decades, prompted in part by a series of corporate scandals, different views have been voiced about why U.S. business schools have purportedly lost their original ambition to become professional schools and, thus, to make management a “true” profession, and how this ambition could be restored. This paper puts these debates into a longer-term perspective by showing that such claims have been present for more than a century. The paper examines the evolving rhetoric of the protagonists and their critics over five periods, each marked by different contexts, which shaped the ambitions of schools of business to be recognized as professional schools. These claims, the paper shows, had a common thread for over 100 years, which was the recurring reference to other professional schools—namely those of medicine and law, and at times engineering, which had already achieved the coveted status when U.S. business schools first originated. We ultimately argue that, given the rhetorical nature of these claims, suggestions that business schools lost their way or ought to return to some idealized past are largely futile. Future discussions should therefore focus on purpose and power rather than profession.
Amdam, R., Kipping, M. and McGlade, J. (2020), "Making Managers: A Fresh Look", Management & Organizational History, 15(2), 91-105.
Bühlmann, F., David, T. and Kipping, M. (2019), "Professionalization Through Symbolic and Social Capital: Evidence from the Careers of Elite Consultants", Journal of Professions and Organization, 6(3), 265-285.
This article contributes to the debate about how more recent professions, especially those related to management, might achieve a semblance of ‘professionalism’ in the absence of the conditions that facilitated the creation of the traditional professions such as medicine, law or accounting in the 19th century. Much of the recent literature has either argued that these professions had to rely on some form of ‘image professionalism’ or that the professionalization process was ‘captured’ by the dominant firms within the professional field, with the aim of creating corporate, firm-internal rather than open labor markets for these professionals. Building on Bourdieu’s notions of symbolic and social capital, we suggest an alternative pathway to professionalization in stratified professional fields. We namely argue that a career at one of the ‘elite’ professional service firms (PSFs) can provide privileged access to positions at other firms within the same field. Hence, such a career constitutes a form of closure regime and allows, at least to some degree, the external labor mobility so typical of traditional professions. We explore this alternative pathway to professionalization by analyzing a novel and unique historical data set of former McKinsey consultants, identifying a number of boundary conditions that seem to facilitate such intraprofessional careers and others, which, over time, might weaken it. We conclude by pointing to a number of broader contributions from our research.
Kipping, M. and Lubinski, C. (2015), "Translating Potential into Profits: Foreign Multinationals in Emerging Markets Since the Nineteenth Century", Management & Organizational History, 10(2), 93-102.
Emerging markets trigger great expectations. Many foreign multinationals are eager to exploit the entrepreneurial opportunities potentially related to less developed but fast growing markets. This is not a new phenomenon. Multinationals from more developed countries have for long searched for opportunities in less developed markets and have dealt with the related challenges. Foreign environments with different needs and capabilities, unstable institutions and policies, stark fluctuations in the macroeconomic environment and unrealistic expectations are just some of the obstacles for ‘turning potential into profits.’ The history of multinational enterprises (MNEs) knows many examples of economies with these characteristics similar to modern understandings of ‘emerging markets.’ This special issue analyzes foreign multinationals in emerging markets from a historical perspective. It seeks to understand changes and continuities in the opportunities and challenges less developed markets presented for MNEs, and in the various ways in which their managers responded to these. Rather than relying on the ‘emerging market’ label, we ask (1) why managers perceived certain markets as ‘emerging’ and which expectations they had when investing in these markets, (2) which challenges they faced there, and (3) how they subsequently addressed them. By tracing and comparing these investments and their consequences over time (and space), we hope to shed more light on managerial decisions and understand to what extent they were shaped by the specific context or, possibly, had more of a timeless nature – with the findings ultimately intended to help inform contemporary decision-making. This introduction to the special issue describes the framework for the following six papers on foreign multinationals in emerging markets since the nineteenth century.
Decker, S., Kipping, M. and Wadhwani, R.D. (2015), "New Business Histories! Plurality in Business History Research Methods", Business History, 57(1), 30-40.Keywords
We agree with de Jong et al.’s argument that business historians should make their methods more explicit and welcome a more general debate about the most appropriate methods for business historical research. But rather than advocating one ‘new business history’, we argue that contemporary debates about methodology in business history need greater appreciation for the diversity of approaches that have developed in the last decade. And while the hypothesis-testing framework prevalent in the mainstream social sciences favoured by de Jong et al. should have its place among these methodologies, we identify a number of additional streams of research that can legitimately claim to have contributed novel methodological insights by broadening the range of interpretative and qualitative approaches to business history. Thus, we reject privileging a single method, whatever it may be, and argue instead in favour of recognising the plurality of methods being developed and used by business historians – both within their own field and as a basis for interactions with others.
Kipping, M. and Westerhuis, G. (2014), "The Managerialization of Banking: From Blueprint to Reality", Management & Organizational History, 9(4), 374-393.
This paper shows how banks in the USA and Western Europe became more managerial during the late 1960s and 1970s, due to the adoption of a multidivisional organizational structure, originally pioneered by industrial enterprises in the 1920s. This meant the introduction of a more elaborate hierarchy with more autonomy as well as accountability for all levels, including the branches, which were supposed to generate profits through more ‘aggressive’ marketing and selling, while the center exercised control through explicit management tools, including budgeting and planning. As this paper also shows, these changes were actively promoted by consultancies, and in particular McKinsey, which had developed a blueprint of a ‘modern’ banking organization that it subsequently implemented in a large number of banks – a process that this paper illustrates through an in-depth case study of the Dutch Amsterdam-Rotterdam (AMRO) bank. More generally, insights from this paper query an established timeline that links the more aggressive, even reckless behavior of banks with deregulation since the 1980s and also casts some doubt on the notion – often sustained by consultants – that management ideas and practices can easily be transferred from one sector to another.
Kipping, M. and Üsdiken, B. (2014), "History in Organization and Management Theory: More Than Meets the Eye", Academy of Management Annals, 8(1), 535-588.
There has been a growing debate about the role of history in management research with several authors making suggestions on how to bring the two (back) together and others even highlighting the need for a “historic turn”. What we argue in this paper is that, while history was indeed sidelined by the scientization of management since the late 1950s, it started to make a comeback from the 1980s onwards and is increasingly employed in a number of research programs. We stress that the crucial question for management scholars engaging with history (or wanting to do so) is how it relates to theory. First of all, we present a systematic overview of the way history has been used—both at the micro (organizational) and macro-levels of analysis—distinguishing between what we refer to as “history to theory” and “history in theory”. In the former, we consider those research programs, such as (neo-)institutionalism, where history serves as evidence to develop, modify or test theories. In the case of “history in theory” we identify research programs where history or the past are part of the theoretical model itself as a driver or moderator, with “imprinting” as a prime example. Second, we also identify a growing number of studies that go further by displaying what we call “historical cognizance” in the sense of incorporating period effects or historical contingencies into their theorizing efforts. Finally, drawing on our broad overview, we make more specific suggestions for increasing the visibility and influence of history in organization and management theory.
Engwall, L. and Kipping, M. (2013), "Management Consulting: Dynamics, Debates and Directions", International Journal of Strategic Communication, 7(2), 84–98.
The purpose of this article is to: (i) provide a brief overview of the emergence and dynamics of the management consulting industry, (ii) summarize the findings from the extant literature, and (iii) identify relevant issues for related research in strategic communication. The article begins by putting management consulting into context by relating it to three other fields of management: practice, education and publishing, pointing out how their interaction furthers the diffusion of management ideas. Then, the article provides an overview of the development of management consulting, showing how consulting activities and firms changed in line with their client organizations, while managing to derive continued legitimacy by adapting their image to different types of “professionalism.” Finally, the article reviews the extant research on management consulting along three levels of analysis: industry, firm, and project, and discusses the implications of its main debates and insights for strategic communication consulting.
Kipping, M. and Kirkpatrick, I. (2013), "Alternative Pathways of Change in Professional Service Firms: The Case of Management Consulting", Journal of Management Studies, 50(5), 777-807.Keywords
This paper contributes to the debate about new organizational forms in professional service firms (PSFs) by suggesting an alternative to extant accounts of how change takes place. To explain the displacement of community forms of organizing by more corporate forms, much of the literature has so far focused on intra‐archetype adaptation and evolutionary processes, looking mainly at established PSFs in law and accounting. Drawing on ideas from the sociology of professions and institutional theory, we suggest that, in more weakly regulated and open professional fields, change might also come from firms entering from the margins or the outside and bringing with them different models of organizing. We explore this possibility through a historical case study of the management consulting field in the UK over a 50 year period, based on a wide range of data sources. Our study shows that despite good intentions at the outset the main professional association was unable and – increasingly – unwilling to restrict entry. This resulted in growing fragmentation of the field through new entrants and, consequently, in greater diversity of organizational forms. Such findings draw attention not only to alternative pathways of change in PSFs, but also to the importance of distinguishing between professional organizational fields more generally.
Project Title Role Award Amount Year Awarded Granting Agency Project Title“Models of Mobility Systemic Differences Path Dependencies Economic Social and Environmental Impact (1900 to Tomorrow)” (Principal applicant: Christina Kraenzle) RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$19,868.00 Year Awarded2011 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - SSHRC Aid to Research Workshops and Conferences Project TitleJoint research with Professor Ken-ichi Yasumuro on Canadian and Japanese multinationals RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$10,000.00 Year Awarded2010-2012 Granting AgencyInstitute of Amusement Industry Studies, Osaka University of Commerce - Research Grant Project TitleHollowing out? Long Term Effects of Franco-Canadian mergers and acquisitions RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$10,000.00 Year Awarded2007-2009 Granting AgencyFrance-Canada Research Foundation - Research Grant Project TitleInnovation and the firm in Europe: drivers of international competitiveness RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$46,400.00 Year Awarded2004-2006 Granting AgencyBBVA Bank Foundation, Spain (award amount in Euro) - Research Grant Project TitleThe role of national and international business networks in the economic and social modernisation of Spain in the 20th century RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$32,400.00 Year Awarded2004-2006 Granting AgencyMinistry of Science and Technology, Spain (award amount in Euro) - Research Grant Project TitleTensions of Europe: Technology in the Making of Twentieth Century Europe RoleCollaborator Award Amount$7,000.00 Year Awarded2001-2003 Granting AgencyEuropean Science Foundation (award amount in Euro) - Research Grant Project TitleSpain in the International Economy RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$30,000.00 Year Awarded2000-2003 Granting AgencyMinistry of Science and Technology, Spain (award amount in Euro) - Research Grant Project TitleCreation of European Management Practice RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$160,000.00 Year Awarded1998-2001 Granting AgencyEuropean Commission (award amount in Euro) - Targeted Socio-Economic Research programme