Management Consultant Talk: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Normalizing Discourse and Resistance

Susan Meriläinen, Janne Tienari, Robyn Thomas, Annette Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)


n this article, we explore the discursive possibilities available to men and women when they construct their professional self as ‘knowledge workers’ in multinational management consultancies. We argue that this professional identity construction is embedded in a normalizing, gendered discourse of what it means to be an ‘ideal’ consultant. However, representations of an alternative discourse, which constructs different spheres in an individual’s life, can also be traced in the consultants’ talk. Through a comparison of British and Finnish consultants’ talk, we show the relevance of placing micro-discourses in context. In the UK, discourse on ‘work/life balance’ may be understood as a form of resistance at the level of subjectivity. In Finland, discourse on the ‘balanced individual’ can be seen to be an articulation of a societally bound normalizing discourse. The cultural context can thus be said to have an effect on forms of resistance in knowledge work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-564
Number of pages26
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • discouse
  • gender
  • identity
  • management consultants
  • resistance

Field of science

  • Business and management

Citation for this output