Att ge stöd till konsulter på distans
Purpose: The overall aim of this study is to obtain more knowledge about Human Resources (HR) work in supporting line managers and employees in the increasingly expanding consulting industry. The study aims to identify which support outsourced consultants mainly value from their employer in a specific consulting company, which is then compared to the consultant managers' perception of their work in providing consultants with support. The comparison should then provide a strategy for how the firm´s HR unit can advise the line managers concerning support to the consultants. Theory: The theoretical framework describes the challenges of personnel-related work in innovative organizations, bearing in mind the variable level of capacity and interest in personnel matters by consultant managers and the need for support. In order to illustrate and examine the types of support that can be identified in the statements by consultants and line managers, the categorization by House (1981) involving instrumental, informative, evaluative and emotional support has been selected for use. To ascertain the flexible conditions that can prevail in consulting firms, Mintzberg's (1989) theory of adhocratic organizational structures has been used to illustrate how outsourced consultants and line managers can experience a flexible structure and how these conditions can affect the supply of support. Method: This study is based on qualitative research, where a total of six semi-structured interviews have been conducted to collect empirical data. The data have been analysed by encoding, where the answers to questions at the interviews have been divided into four different categories, corresponding to House (1981). Results: The study's empirical results show that the consultants experience seek an improvement in mainly evaluative and emotional support, combined with a generally increased social interaction. Both consultants and line managers experience that instrumental support is a complex task. The distance between the two groups during the everyday working situation and the specialized character of the consultant’s competence give rise to a marginal understanding of the consultants' work by the line manager. As far as informative support is concerned, it appears that the confidence for the work by line managers, concerning business and personal affairs is satisfactory. This type of support seems to be catered for in the studied organization. In a broader context, this study highlights the complexity of providing support under the flexible working conditions that prevail in an adhocratic organizational structure. Based on previous research, two possible strategies have emerged for how HR can facilitate line managers to provide consultants with support. One strategy is to develop clear descriptions of responsibilities, where information is provided concerning when and how support can be conveyed to consultants. We also suggest that further development of the line managers’ role in a more HR-oriented context could be carried out.