Join the City Political Economy Research Centre (CITYPERC) for the launch of “The Big Con. How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Businesses, Infantilizes our Governments and Warps our Economies”
There is an entrenched relationship between the consulting industry and the way business and government are managed today which must change.
Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington show that our economies' reliance on companies such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY stunts innovation, obfuscates corporate and political accountability and impedes our collective mission of halting climate breakdown.
The 'Big Con' describes the confidence trick the consulting industry performs in contracts with hollowed-out and risk-averse governments and shareholder value-maximizing firms. It grew from the 1980s and 1990s in the wake of reforms by both the neoliberal right and Third Way progressives, and it thrives on the ills of modern capitalism, from financialization and privatization to the climate crisis. It is possible because of the unique power that big consultancies wield through extensive contracts and networks - as advisors, legitimators and outsourcers - and the illusion that they are objective sources of expertise and capacity. To make matters worse, our best and brightest graduates are often redirected away from public service into consulting. In all these ways, the Big Con weakens our businesses, infantilizes our governments and warps our economies.
Mazzucato and Collington expertly debunk the myth that consultancies always add value to the economy. With a wealth of original research, they argue brilliantly for investment and collective intelligence within all organizations and communities, and for a new system in which public and private sectors work innovatively for the common good. We must recalibrate the role of consultants and rebuild economies and governments that are fit for purpose.
Presenters: Rosie Collington (IIPP, University College London)
Discussant: Cecilia Rikap (City, University of London)
Moderator: Inga Rademacher (City, University of London)
Rosie Collington is a PhD candidate at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, where she researches the political economy of outsourcing. She has written on consulting and other subjects for publications including the Guardian, OpenDemocracy and the Independent.
Cecilia Rikap is Lecturer in International Political Economy (IPE) and Bsc. in IPE programme director at City, University of London, where she researchers the political economy of science and technology focused on digital capitalism and healthcare. She is also a tenure researcher of the CONICET, Argentina’s national research council, and associate researcher at COSTECH lab, Université de Technologie de Compiègne.
Inga Rademacher is Lecturer in International Political Economy (IPE) at City, University of London where she researches how micro-strategies contribute to global economic phenomena. She examines the critical juncture in the fiscal and monetary policy which led to the rise of finance and austerity.