Metaphorical Representations of the Consultancy and the Consultant in Romania (1)

Dragos Iliescu
PhD in I/O Psychology
Lecturer SNSPA and partner in D&D Research
Daniela Stoian
MSc in "Managerial Communication and Human Resources"
Communication and Public Relation Faculty
National School of Political Sciences and Public Administration (SNSPA), Bucharest, Romania
Maglina Filimon
MSc in "Managerial Communication and Human Resources"
Communication and Public Relation Faculty
National School of Political Sciences and Public Administration (SNSPA), Bucharest, Romania
Mihaela Păunescu
MSc in "Managerial Communication and Human Resources"
Communication and Public Relation Faculty
National School of Political Sciences and Public Administration (SNSPA), Bucharest, Romania
Vasilica Trandafir
MSc in "Managerial Communication and Human Resources"
Communication and Public Relation Faculty
National School of Political Sciences and Public Administration (SNSPA), Bucharest, Romania
Alexandra Haralambie
MSc in "Managerial Communication and Human Resources"
Communication and Public Relation Faculty
National School of Political Sciences and Public Administration (SNSPA), Bucharest, Romania


With the participation of:


Methodological preliminary
The present study was conducted on constructivist analytical frame and it concentrated on the metaphorical representations of the HR specialists about the HR consultants and, generally, about the consultancy process. The study has been developed during January February 2005, by D&D Research, with the participation of HR-Romania. The methodology was mostly quantitative, based on the deployment of 188 questionnaires by face-to-face administration, but, also, by the respondent’s self-evaluation.

The interest for this study appeared due to the need to know the type of role played by the consultancy act in the Romanian reality and the consultant occupation. The Romanian market, not having a large history regarding this domain, has not benefit from instruments to depict its main aspects, the specific characteristics of this domain (field). We consider that the results of this study will become a valuable instrument both for the consultancy firms (companies) and for the firms which require consultancy.

Inevitably, the study provides new information, it represents a coordinating element for those who will come in contact with it and we consider that the impact will be proportional, due to the fact that the study illustrates the image as a whole, the social imagery the people that have come in contact with the consultancy firms have. Once one is aware of their perception, things become much easier and the approach of the interactions aspects between the customer and the consultant becomes much more flexible and direct. On this account, this study represents a guide both for consultants and for their customers.

We’ll notice aspects that are no big news and were to be expected, but we’ll also notice conclusions, rather unexpected and sometimes even against the positions overtly stated by the consultants or by their customers. We would wish that all of these positions should be taken into consideration as simply existing, they are free from any negative connotation they could receive from some of us and none of this have ever been intended in this study.

Chapter 1: The metaphor and its representations in the consultant's activity

Organizational change and the psychological representations
Starting even from two decades ago, change has become one of the main themes in the study of the organization. Applied studies, dedicated to the process of managing organizational change, are more than enough and we can state, without mistake, that they brought forth a whole connected industry in organizational consultancy: the one focused on one or the other form of organizational change. Although, from the practical point of view, the concept is continuously growing in importance, as yet there are not enough daring developments to be noticed in terms of real knowledge.

We do also agree with many other important researchers of the domain who state that the understanding of the concept of organizational change is limited and continues to pay tribute to some wrong postulates, both about changing and about the nature and the life of the organizations.

Many authors of the domain have suggested, more than once, that one of the many ways in which we can achieve a more profound understanding over the phenomenon of organizational change could be by exploring the symbolical aspects of the organizational life (Alvesson, 1995; Jones, 1996; Smircich, 1983, 1985; Trice & Beyer, 1984). The reasoning that recommends such a symbolical approach are based on the depth of the organizational cultural aspects and on their omnipresence, both demonstrating the ability of the cultural symbols to influence all the organizational process and, especially, those connected with the change (Czarniawska, 1997a; Rosaldo, 1989; Wilkof, Brown, & Selsky, 1995).

The understanding of the change in its symbolic context makes it possible to identify some tacit barriers in its way and makes it possible to approach the plans of changing in such a manner in which to reflect the cultural build interpretations regarding this process.

The cultural interpretations and constructions always reflect not only on the organizational change process in its whole, but, also on all the important actors that are part of this process. As one of the most important participant actors in the change process, the organizational consultant always has his part of labeling perceptual constructions and tacit barriers. Even when it’s not about labels, but about non-verbalized and unconscious presumptions, postulates or nonverbal frames, existing within the target-organization (sometimes among its rank-and-file, some other times even among the top level employees), these psychological representations influence all the interactions of the organization with the consultant – from the easiest to the most complicated ones. Based on the psychological representations and on the symbolical frames (constructions) mentioned here the consultant receives his or her research brief and the consultancy contract, the client defines the target-area, both together sets the frame of analysis and the conceptual patterns, the consultant is selected or rejected, he/she is given or is denied some freedoms and margins in the consultancy project, his/her work is evaluated in the end and so on.

Metaphors in the study of organizations
One of the most obvious ways in which the cultural or individual representations that influence the interaction between the organization and the consultant may be speculated in the organizational study is the metaphor. Social researchers, like any man in his daily life, tend to continuously work, at an unconscious level, with metaphors. They’re caught in their own perspectives and their own assumptions, they build, understand and interpret the social reality in partial and sometimes incorrect ways, but which have a strong functional and adaptive dimension: they are practical and, to a practical (concrete) level, they hit the mark. Through the fact that they work continuously with representations that change their own image about reality, and exactly because they are aware of those, researchers in the social sciences are more skillful that others regarding the identification of such psychological representations when these are used by the people surrounding them.

Metaphors are legitimate ways of knowledge (Radman, 1995); they are heuristic symbols and mechanisms for expressing these symbols (Pugh, Hicks, & Davis, 1997). Metaphors are wordless (tacit) ways of behavior and verbal transmission of some meanings which are either non-verbalized and non-conscious, or either too complicated in order to be verbally transmitted – or, most of the times, both of these. Under these conditions, we consider that fundamenting the study of organizations on metaphors is not a possibility, but a must.

It is important to understand that, although endless in their possibilities of articulation, metaphors are grouped around some occupations in certain favorite, usual forms. Most of the professional occupations have their own dedicated metaphors and a part of these have been explicitly studied in the past. The metaphors, the representations, parables and symbolical verbalizations used in psychology where addressed by Leary (1990), those in human resources management by Dunn (1990), those related to informational systems by Kendall & Kendall (1993), those related to learning and pedagogy by Cortazzi & Jin (1999) etc. Related to epistemology we must mention Argyris’, Putnam’s & Smith’s (1985) study and in the study on organizations and management we must mention Morgan’s (1997) very famous study.

We have met, in our activity as consultants not just once but plenty of times, reified metaphorical representations, succeeding in subtly managing the interaction of the organization as a whole or of some of its segments, in its interaction and relationship with us, as consultants.

Using metaphors in organizational research – and especially in practice, in consultancy – is considered by some authors (Grubbs, 2001; Daley, 2001) as being a third methodology, which passes above the qualitative and the quantitative. The metaphor is, as we think, an extension of the qualitative, narrative approach. It combines the purity of the objective positive approach which the insightfulness and practical spectrum the qualitative approach has generally in the study of the organizations and especially in the work of some consultant. It provides a predominant concentration, not on what the subject says, but on what stands at the base of his/her verbalizations. Any gesture and especially any word of the subject – whether he is the client or just an ordinary member of the target-organization reflects the respective person’s subjective impressions about external facts (Brink, 1993).

Examples of punctual metaphors used in the organizational environment (but not only) would be:
- the music: the conductor and the instrumentalists, all singing by the conductor’s directions and by the musical part, all being virtuosic and playing, of course, a particular and artistic interpretation of his own role;
- the family: a strong metaphor regarding the organizational behavior, the borders, the distribution of power, the roles etc.: with maternal roles and fatherly ones, with brothers or step brother, with family moments etc.
- the sport: for example „all in a boat”, suggesting the group share for a difficult task and, also, the team members’ shared destiny;
- the tree: a strong metaphor used by consultants in order to force the client to concentrate on the whole cycle of planning a problem, not to focus on only one branch (for example the results) and ignore the roots, the block, the other branches, the leaves etc.

General metaphors used in the environment of the organization and in consultancy are more general, more inclusive and, in this way necessarily, more vague from certain points of view. They have, however, major meanings for approaching the consultancy process. Examples of such metaphors are those identified by Morgan (1997), who treats organizations like machines, organisms, brains etc., or those of Argyris & Schön (1978), of the organization as an army.

Difficulties in using metaphors
The use of metaphors, although we consider it necessary, also brings out some serious and, sometimes, not possible to over-come problems. The research conducted on the metaphors obeys to the logical, procedural and analytical design difficulties which are generally inherent to the research of speech, dialogue and text (Short, 2001; Keenoy, Marshak, Oswick & Grant, 2000). Because in this investigation area quantitative research can’t have a serious point of view, the only research possibility is the qualitative one, which, of course, it is, often speculative, ambiguous, it lacks the experimental stringency, it lacks the ability of prevalence and the positivism which should animate scientific approach.

The major difficulty may not be found in epistemological viewpoints, but in the fact that exactly the potential the metaphors have in order to make us uniformly and profoundly understand a situation, it is, in the same time, the biggest researcher’s enemy. From this point of view, the biggest attempt is to discover the real signification of metaphors for the individuals that use them or who are receptive at them. The same phrase, the same metaphor may have different meanings for different individuals or different groups from the same organization. Therefore, even the researcher may not coherently understand it, may not completely understand it or may use it in the wrong way.

Synthetically stated, there are the following inevitable difficulties for the organizational research based on metaphors:
(a) Incorrect interpretation of the metaphors. In 1989, Sackmann strongly drew attention to the fact that different individuals may interpret the same metaphor in different ways, and this fact could lead to different and sometimes unintentional results for each of them. Daley (2001) also indicates a few convincing cases of misinterpreted metaphors in the educational, psychological, marketing and organizational research. Indeed, the misinterpretation of one metaphor by the employees for whom it’s addressed, related to the organizational change process, may easily destroy the whole process. The clearness (clarity) and the accuracy of the used metaphors are, therefore, necessary characteristics – although, difficult to achieve in the metaphor area.
(b) The desire to unify. Generally, metaphors are uniformly presented in the domain literature, although they actually appear in a much larger diversity and with many facets and angles which every time deforms and directs their intimate signification to other areas. There are some pressures for unification in the field of study, but the researcher must understand that metaphors generally presented in the studies of the domain – and in this research – are unitary generalizations and verbalizations which may really appear in more or less modified ways.
(c) Influence of the dominant metaphors. The importance of applying the metaphors on the research comes from the fact that a relatively small number of metaphors are dominant, therefore closing the path of appearance for other metaphors. For instance, the metaphor “organization” as an organism and the one of organization as a mechanism is so dominant that the first repartee for a metaphor for any individual can be found in 90% of the cases in one of these two solutions (Kraemer, 2001). According to this, abilities in the quantitative study are needed, in order to overcome the lifted up barriers of the dominant metaphors.
(d) The attitudes, the opening towards the metaphor in the research. The quantitative research, especially when it is so speculative and so opened to personal and subjective interpretations, still remains a suspicious and repudiated method by the majority of the theoreticians’ circle (Shindell & Willis). Practitioners, who agree with such methodological options, do not have strong opinions in the domain and they generally use by intuition the metaphor and in this way feeding up, even more, the aura of abstract subjectiveness of the metaphorical research.

Chapter 2: The methaphor and its representations in human relations in Romania. Quantitative marks.

Methodology. Extraction of the used representations/metaphors

1. Qualitative investigation. The technique of critical incidents
The first step in selecting the investigated metaphors in this study was made on qualitative bases, after Shindell & Willis’ model (2001). It was a qualitative exploring study, based on not structured interviews and on the critical incidents technique belonging to Flanagan (1954). The purpose was to extract practical examples of utilizing the metaphors in situations of factual consultancy. Interviews were taken through the work of 4 consultants and 11 individuals working in medium or top managerial positions, from companies which have applied for consultancy for various aspects related to the human resources field, for the last three months.

Virtually, the speech and the interviewed individual’s verbalizations were aimed in order to find metaphors or subjective representations about the consultancy process, without using prompting techniques for various devoted metaphors. Anyway, when a certain metaphor appeared, questions were used in order to block its meanings like, for example, why the interviewed thinks the used metaphor is strong or stimulating for the actual case or how can be explained the fact that this metaphor has so powerful meanings.

2. Conceptual map
The second step was to chart a conceptual map related to the so chosen metaphors and to their meanings. The map focused on assigning the differences and establishing the resemblance between the various metaphorical representations and it was useful for the following discussions between the experts.

3. The Delphi method
The third step was the discussions between the experts. A number of six experts on the problem of metaphorical treatment of the organizational representations have had 4 consecutive meetings, two hours each, in order to make the metaphors and to make the identified meanings from the above step work.

In this way, they created 14 metaphors about the consultant and consultancy and they made them operational. They were grouped, in order to be evaluated, into 7 areas of significance.

The 14 metaphors, in this way identified and made operational, are related to the consultant as a:
(1) doctor,
(2) police officer,
(3) psychologist,
(4) astrologer,
(5) teacher,
(6) fireman,
(7) captain,
(8) mechanic / engineer,
(9) churchman / ordinee,
(10) farmer,
(11) designer / aesthetician,
(12) coach,
(13) guide,
(14) architect.

The areas that were considered to be important for the explanation of the mentioned above metaphorical representations are:
(1) The common vision about his/her own organization („I generally see my organization as”);
(2) The common vision about his/her own organization, when a consultancy demarche is needed („the most accurate analogy representing a comparison for my organization, when it needs consultancy….”);
(3) The vision about the difficult situations experienced by the organization („the situations that force me to ask consultancy, I see them as …”);
(4) The vision about the consultant’s activity („what the consultant does …”);
(5) The vision about the consultant’s contribution (“ I expect the ideal consultant to come with the following in a project…”);
(6) The vision about the consultant’s time spent in the organization („I expect the consultant to spend time in the organization, as follows …”);
(7) The vision about the finality of the consultancy („for me the finality of the consultancy is …”).

The questionnaire realized by following these steps was called OCMQ (Organizational Consultant Metaphor Questionnaire). OCMQ contains 112 items on 7 dimensions and it needs from the respondent for each dimension a designation (nomination) for the three items which he/she considers to represent him/her and a designation for the three items which he/she rejects the most. The internal consistency of the questionnaire was calculated by an index of Alpha=.61, which is considered to be satisfactory.

Explaining the used metaphors
1. The consultant as a DOCTOR
The individual who asked for the consultancy sees his/her organization as a sick organism which the consultant has to cure. He does not deeply implicate himself in the new problem, but he asks for the complete specialist’s help, whose competence and superior experience he/she unconditionally recognizes. The doctor interferes in the organizations when there is a symptom some where. He brings in the organization much knowledge about its “sicknesses” and it is enough to ask “were does it hurt” in order to set a diagnostic and to evaluate where the situation stands; in this way, the participation of the individual who receives consultancy is minimum, he/she only has to be present and to follow exactly the prescribed treatment. The doctor comes in the organization, establishes the diagnostic, he prescribes the recipe and walks away, and he will come again just for a few times only to see the evolution and to check if the treatments were correctly administrated. The finality of the whole process is to restore or to maintenance an important attribute of the organizational life and this is either functional -specific or, most of the times, it is generally done: the health of the organization.

2. The consultant as a POLICE OFFICER
The organization is an institution which is governed by strict norms, and observing these norms is vital. The organization is extremely dependent of the legal frame in which it activates. The procedures and regulations are the essence of a continuous a correct flux. The identification of the individuals who are guilty of deflection from the normal path and their disposal are the consultant’s purpose. The officer is the person who intervenes when one of the laws is strained. It is necessary to identify the person who strained it, to find out the moment when this happened and the cause for it. He knows all about the ways in which one could steal, how one could hide the mistakes, how one could cover the ineffectiveness, he knows about research and interrogation techniques, about legal systems from the organization (internal procedures) and from the outside, systems which the organization has to respect. He has to read, to watch, to be a detective. Sometimes he stays for a little while in the organization in order to assist the infliction of the punishment. He will stay to set the new procedures in such a way that this kind of not observing the rules will not take place anymore. The consultant as a police officer is a model who is mainly used in accidental situations in the RU component (industrial accident, ecological accident) or for other similar legally related situations.

3. The consultant as a PSYCHOLOGIST
The organization where the psychologist intervenes is compared to a sick brain. This model is also used even when there are no symptoms but developing possibilities: the organization has potential, but it is not confident enough in its own forces, it does not have the predicted performances because it does not sees its aces; therefore, it needs to be backed, advised in order to fructify its qualities. The symptoms of the organization are usually not related to physical problems, to affections that may justify the calling up for the doctor, but are related to strange actions under an apparently perfect physical health. The psychologist has a significant role in terms of experience in such “mental” affection. But, it is important for the organization to wish to change and the psychologist helps it to internalize this problem – he doesn’t prescribe drugs, like the doctor, he doesn’t make interventions (operations), he is a mediator who wants to help the organization to reach a superior level of articulation, according to its interests, representations, possibilities, wills.

4. The consultant as an ASTROLOGER/ACTUARY
The organization where an astrologer / actuary intervenes is an entity which evolves in a very tumultuous and dynamic economical and social environment. The organization has to anticipate it in order to have an active behavior on the market; in the same time, the space where the organization gravitates is a vaguely shaped one where the incertitude rules. The organization needs a map from the consultant, a prognosis on the future, an analysis of the environment where it activates and predictions about the path the organization will follow in the future. Only this kind of consultant is able to provide such important information. Therefore, by asking help from an astrologer / actuary, the organization wishes information, predictions for optimizing the activity. The consultant brings along, in the organization, his statistic and mathematic knowledge of prevision together with experience in that field, flair and empathy; some of them may come with the “crystal globe”, the “horoscope” and some other esoteric and divine methods, through which they can read the future. At first, the consultant collects the necessary data for the analysis and than he arranges them and shows the results. His role in the organization is to show the future, which becomes clear and there is something sure that brings some cognitive comfort.

5. The consultant as a TEACHER
The organization where the teacher acts is an entity which is continuously learning and which needs to be permanently evaluated. A brain that assimilates continuously. The efficiency of the organization is seen as intervening only when the organization has all the possible knowledge in order to face the challenges from the environment. The organization is preoccupied with evolution. The essence is the assimilation, the organization looks for perfecting, for training. The ideal consultant must track down the needs for training or evolution and he completes them. The consultant may intervene at some definite times or when the education of employees does not meet with the requirements of the technology or it’s behind the requirements of the market and he intervenes in the situation when the organization focuses on employees’ continuous learning for their professional evolution. The consultant brings his theoretical knowledge in the organization, his flair and charisma, all gathered along his career. The time spent by the teacher in the organization will be short or long corresponding to the difference that needs to be covered by training, which may be too big or too small. The time spent in the organization by the consultant also depends on the “students’ “ability to familiarize with the knowledge; in the situation where there are some negative results, the teacher will stay longer and will apply some punishments. The teacher-student relationship is usually intense. The consultant comes to train, comes and teaches others, gives homework, evaluates, gives marks, grounds those who haven’t done correctly their homework, those who have not familiarized with the knowledge presented during the training.

6. The consultant as a FIREMAN
The organization on which the fireman intervenes is like a building on fire. The consultant intervenes in full crisis, when the catastrophe has happened and, therefore, he must use all his resources to fix this incident, he risks his “life” ( meaning his reputation and career) and those affected will give him full credit as he is the only person who knows what must be done. His entrance in the organization is tumultuous, he intervenes and repairs the catastrophe and when he has established the cause he packs his bags and leaves the organization, leaving behind a “devastated” territory. His intervention is a primary one; the final intervention will be to extinguish the fire, adjusting the catastrophe. After his intervention devastated areas and sequels remain, but the organization has overcome the danger and it is saved from extinction. The measures for repairing that will be taken are not necessarily the fireman’s.

7. The consultant as a STRATEGIST/CAPTAIN
The organization is an army that needs a captain, a strategist for spreading a certain vision, for imaging the plans of battles and wars from the market. The captain is called into the organization when it changes the “acting direction” and it needs a strong hand to guide it; he also intervenes when the organization is not facing a change but a crisis and, in such moments, he is able to show the strategy to be followed; he is also called in when a war, a battle is prepared and when there is the need to establish and coordinate the strategies, the fight tactics, the way to set the troops. He may come by himself in the organization but he may be accompanied by the whole General Headquarters, in this way bringing in the organization all the knowledge from the wars and battles that have happened and the techniques from the battle field. When the organization engages into a long war, the strategist may spend a long time in the organization. He directs the organization, decides, gives orders, he lets others to implement because, in some situations, the authority rules.

8. The consultant as MECHANIC/ENGINEER
The engineer is the person who intervenes in the organizations seen as mechanical entities, which, in order to function and achieve performances, need to have all the functional components. He intervenes when one “little wheel is broken” it will affect the others. The vision about organization says that it can be repaired and made functional anytime it is broken. Everything is very well calculated and the consultant already knows the insides of the organization, so he will go directly to the broken chain and he doesn’t need to disturb the rest of the compounds. The mechanic/ engineer intervenes in the organization when one of the components does not function at the established parameters, when it wishes to design/redesign a component and to assure the maintenance of all the compound elements. He knows the plans of the “vehicle”, he has the knowledge to assure the repairing and maintenance (when it is the case of the maintenance), he has the substances to “oil” the wheels so they function and will not brake anymore. After his intervention the result is a vehicle which works according to the standards, with few and short interruptions.

9. The consultant as a PRIEST/ORDINEE
The organization needs a priest, in order to seek the right path and the correct and virtuous way for achieving its goals. It needs only the supervising of a known, superior authority, whose opinion is supreme. The vision about the organization is a humanistic one and it takes many times into account aspects related to the corporate responsibility. The consultant’s authority is recognized without raising rational or argumentative problems: his knowledge is superior and relevant. The consultant is a guru, he remains little time in the organization, and sometimes he even doesn’t come in but he is visited from time to time for the weekly or monthly dose of wisdom and guidance. The consultancy is a continuous process because the relationship between the organization and the consultant becomes quickly a relationship of dependence.

10. The consultant as a FARMER
The farmer acts in an organization that looks like a field which, if it is not ploughed, planted, watered, cared after and reaped on time, it will not produce. He intervenes when some vital activities have not been planned and, therefore, unpleasant events happened. He brings with him the necessary tools for planting and caring after the crop. In order to get good results he must have the ability to anticipate the next phase of the process and to plan the “rotation of the crop”, as well as the knowledge about news in the domain of fertilizers used for the stimulation of some crops. He rests in the organization at least for a cycle of production in order to cover all the steps of the cycle and afterwards he comes back to analyze if the rotation of the crops has had the wanted effect.

11. The consultant as a DESIGNER/AESTHETICIAN
He intervenes into a public exposure environment which and which needs to be attractive. The organization is full-grown a functional, it only needs adjustments related to image, “needs to be in fashion”. The designer/aesthetician intervenes when the exterior, the image is hurt. Through his knowledge about the intervention manner over the look of a company and the solutions of rebuilding the initial image or an amelioration of the organization aesthetics, he saves the image. His intervention does not stop only at a very detailed adornment of the company but also he proposes this adornment.

12. The consultant as a COACH
The organization is like a team in which every person should know very well his/her role and “the whole” works only because the collaboration of all the members exists. The consultancy is necessary when the organization neither does nor reaches anymore the standards of performances and the consultant must know all the motivation tactics, the ones to bring the company back on the field together with the competitive teams. The coach intervenes when the players loose some of their abilities but, also, when it appears the need of adjustment according to the news in the field, in order to face the battle with the competition. He is characterized by charisma, he has some psychological knowledge through which he motivates the team members but, also, knowledge in the field of training and strategies through the game techniques.

13. The consultant as a GUIDE
The organization is at the beginning of a road or at the beginning of a new start. It needs guidance, orientation. The consultant is, therefore, the most appropriate person to indicate the options and he is the person to walk with along the road until the end. The consultant brings, therefore, a map of the destination but he, also, describes the itineraries that can be followed, he stands beside the organization all the way and helps it to overcome the difficult parts of the road, through his experience in such situations and due to the fact that he has already taken this itineraries before.

14. The consultant as an ARCHITECT
The organization is a building, with foundation, structural strength, walls, windows, facet, working rooms etc. It is a building which needs consolidation from time to time; certain fissured areas demand periodical reconstruction or painting. This type of consultant acts on the “outside” but also on the inside of the organization. His purpose is to assort the new constructed parts with the rest of the building, but also to cement the whole complex. He intervenes in the organization when he is called in, he is sure about his good taste and flair and, also, about calculations on resistance and his decisions (solutions) may be questionable regarding the flair and the aesthetics, but not regarding the structural strength. The next construction is not his responsibility. It may be, but in few cases and this will happen in a limited manner.

The questionnaire OCMQ was completed after selecting the phrases; it was applied to the target-group by e-mail, by mail or by interview operators.

The target-group was formed by high or medium level specialists from Romanian companies, who were involved at least once for the past 12 months in the consultancy activity as the clients of it. Of course, the questionnaire was anonymous, asking exclusively for correlative and orientate statistics, for data about the size of the company and the industry it activates in.

On the whole, there were 188 valid questionnaires accumulated (with all the necessary data completed), and 71 supplementary questionnaires, completed by persons who, although they work in the human resources field, they were not involved in consultancy projects in the specified period. These 71 questionnaires have not been taken into account, but can be used in order to make a comparison about perceptions and representations of the two groups described in this way, which will probably differ in terms of professional experience regarding the interaction with the consultant.

The questionnaires were applied through the three mentioned above methods, as follows:
- 28 questionnaires applied through face-to-face interviews, by an interview operator, at the respondent’s headquarter;
- 11 questionnaires applied through mail, together with stamped envelope and self-addressed ones in order to facilitate their remittance from the client back to us;
- 149 questionnaires applied through e-mail, with the help, especially, of the HR-Romania human resources.