PowerPoint in Management Consulting: A Pragmatist Approach

Considering the use of PowerPoint in management consulting as some sort of a performance is now perhaps a lieu commun, both in the social-scientific literature and among practitioners. How can the efficacy of such practice be analyzed, then? What does it mean to consider its pragmatic effects? In a recent working paper titled “Making a consultancy slideshow ‘rock solid’: a study of pragmatic efficacy”, Alaric Bourgoin, a PhD candidate at the Center for the Sociology of Innovation, and Fabian Muniesa, present an ethnography of the preparation of a PowerPoint diagram in a consultancy firm, and show how the consultants attempt at considering effects, layout and accuracy as criteria for the solidity of their diagrammatic rendering of the client’s problems. An earlier version of the paper was presented at theĀ 2nd Workshop on Imagining Business (EIASM, IE Business School, Segovia, 19-20 May 2011). The research materials and theoretical insights are based on Alaric’s PhD project, Valuing management consulting: ethnography of an entangled practice, now near completion. The thesis stands, in part, as a contribution to the understanding of the problem of performativity in management consulting.