Angels of Efficiency: A Media History of Consulting

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Corporate consulting, a one-time seemingly marvelous mixture of bare-knuckle rationalization, esoterica, and visionary futurism, is invariably deployed when business structures threaten to lose their equilibrium. What it actually means to be consulted, the part played by media in consulting, and how the branch of corporate consulting became a system of knowledge with such a socially important role is the object of this book. For the first time, it explores the ways in which the latest media technology, avant-garde aesthetics, economic pressures, and holistic philosophy together constituted the form of consulting dominant today, and which consequences arise from this. Thus it follows the work of early corporate consultants like Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and H. L. Gantt, while analyzing and describing their visual consulting models. The book develops a new, innovative, interdisciplinary approach, situated between media and business history, media archeology, and social theory, and thereby charts the genesis of modern consulting knowledge. It reveals that corporate consulting must be conceptualized in close relation to the visual culture that prevailed during this time, one which drew from nineteenth-century visualization methods and, more particularly, the new medium of film. Consulting is a cultural technique that is markedly characterized by media processes, in which the boundaries of economic logic and legitimacy emerge, and which, at the same time, considerably shapes and stabilizes this modus operandi up to the present day.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages392
ISBN (Print)9780190886370
ISBN (Electronic)9780190886363
Publication statusPublished - 28.05.2020

    Research areas

  • Media and communication studies - gilbreth, consulting, cybernetics, media, film, media history, business history, German media theory, management, visual culture