The influence of situational constraints on the perceived value of consulting services

Nicole E. Plenge, Robin Adair Erickson*, Michael Elwood Roloff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose - This article aims to examine how situational constraints impact clients' valuations of the task and socio-emotional resources exchanged when interacting with consultants. In consultant-client relationships, the emphasis on economic resources has commodified these interactions into explicit exchanges of time, money, and deliverables. Design/methodology/approach - A total of five hypotheses were tested using a within-subjects experimental design. Subjects consisted of 110 adult professionals who were presented with five different scenarios in a random sequence and asked to rank order and evaluate a list of professional-service resources. Findings - The valuation of resources was found to change when situational constraints were present. Regardless of the context, task resources were generally valued more than socio-emotional resources. When relational constraints were salient, socio-emotional resources were valued more in long-term than short-term relationships. When faced with time pressure or budgetary constraints, task needs were valued more than socio-emotional needs. Research limitations/implications - There is potential bias due to snowball sampling, and the hypothetical nature of the experimental scenarios limits the generalizability of this study. Practical implications - For clients, this research indicates that the context surrounding consultant-client interactions plays an important role in shaping clients' valuation of resources, both individually and collectively. For consultants, these findings suggest that a "one-size-fits-all" strategy is not the most effective way to approach consultant-client interactions. Originality/value - This study contributes to our knowledge about how situational constraints impact clients' valuation of the task and socio-emotional resources offered by consultants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-151
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Organizational Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007


  • Management consultancy
  • Social interaction
  • Sociology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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