How experts and consultants gain influence when they have little power

Research Briefing

Keywords: expertise, influence, upward influence, power, relationships, relations, consultants, experts, outsider

One of the problems with being a consultant or external/peripheral expert is that you have little power within the organisation to ensure that your recommendations and thinking are enacted. As organisations increasingly turn to hiring experts and consultants in order to solve an ever-increasing range of organisational problems, experts face the knotty problem of how to get cooperation and how to influence
organisational members, who can ignore or negate their recommendations and ideas with ease and with little, if any, recourse.

A number of previous studies have found that managers within the organisation can often feel threatened and their autonomy diminished by peripheral experts and consultants and, as a result, are significantly more likely to reject both the experts’ solutions and ideas or exert control over them by changing their recommendations as a form of ego-defence.

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