Friday, 25 September 2009

Extending Schein's client typology

Schein has this categorisation of clients:
  • contact,
  • intermediate,
  • primary,
  • unwitting,
  • indirect and
  • ultimate clients.
Contact clients are individuals who first contact the consultant. Intermediate clients are individuals or groups who get involved through meetings and other activities. Primary clients are those who own and manage the problem and may pay the bill. Ultimate clients are those whose welfare other clients and the consultant must consider. Unwitting clients are those related to the primary client but are unaware that they will be impacted. Indirect clients are those who are aware that they will be affected by consultancy interventions but either the consultancy or other clients do not know about them.

However, some researchers (like Sturdy) suggest that this model can be extended to include other clients, like ignored clients - those the consultant knows about, but discounts. "Proscribed clients" is the term that Sturdy uses, being people who are excluded from a change process through political manoeuvering.

Interesting. I wonder how much the public sector does this. And surely proscribed clients would be difficult to identify through research, because of the politics that proscribes them.

STURDY, A., CLARK, T., FINCHAM, R. & HANDLEY, K. (2009) Between innovation and legitimation - boundaries and knowledge flow in management consultancy. Organization.
STURDY, A., HANDLEY, K., FINCHAM, R. & CLARK, T. (2009) Management consultancy : boundaries and knowledge in action, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

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