Collegiality in consultancies

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Emmanuel LAZEGA

Sociologist, Lille I University

Seminar Working breakfasts | Wednesday October 10, 2001

All experts, all peers and all equals ? Collegial structures, such as partnerships, work in principle on the basis of equality. When very complex decisions have to be taken, the action agreed upon by all parties tends to diverge from the purely bureaucratic model in order to bring together all the skills. However, an organisation highlights various needs, such as acquiring clients, managing the distribution of common resources, limiting opportunistic attitudes, keeping the most intelligent people, choosing the young people who will become future partners and maintaining a group spirit. Meeting these needs risks breaking this collegial form of decision-making at any given moment. Numerous and contradictory requirements arise. Emmanuel Lazega carefully observed the workings of an American law firm. He shows us the subtlety of social mechanisms which determine co-operation between the lawyers.

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