Roles and Styles of Organizational Development Consultants

Roles and Styles of Organizational Development Consultants

BUS 370

Organizational Development

Roles and Styles of Organizational Development Consultants

Implementing planned changed is sometimes a difficult challenge for an organization. Each decision requires careful consideration to attain the most effective results. In these situations, employers may elect to hire an Organizational Development (OD) Consultant for advice. However, the scope of guidance and oversight an OD consultant provides depend on the client and issue. For this reason, consultants adapt to different roles and styles that best suit the situation. This paper explores the benefits of each of the three consulting roles and four intervention styles used by OD consultants.

Roles of an OD Consultant

When negotiating the terms of the employment contract, both the client and consultant must agree upon the responsibility and involvement of each party. The outcome of the negotiation determines the role the consultant plays. There are three basic consultant roles: expert, pair-of-hands, and collaborator (Bierema, 2014). Each role establishes different authorities and boundaries that shape the client-consultant relationship.

When assuming an expert role, the consultant is granted more freedom and authority over the issue than the client. Kenton and Moody (2003) compare this role to a doctor-patient relationship, where the client takes a passive role and allows the consultant to identify, diagnose, and correct the problem. Organizations value this role because expertise is often the biggest advantage of hiring a business consultant (Sondhi, 2019). Having an expert call the shots and do the work can not only save the company time and money but also bring comfort in knowing the situation is under control.

In contrast, the pair-of-hands role has nearly the opposite responsibilities than the expert. Velenti (2020) illustrates this role as a powerless consultant who mindlessly follows instructions from the client regardless of whether they are right or wrong. Organizations who value this role typically only need a trained to supplement staffing, which is sometimes less expensive than hiring and training

The collaborator role

Lippitt and Lippitt’s continuum of consulting roles

Styles of an OD Consultant


Bierema, L. (2014). An introduction to organizational development. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Kenton, B., & Moody, D. (2003). The Role of the Internal Consultant. Retrieved from

Sondhi, P. (2019, April 3). How Hiring a Consultant Can Help Founders in Business. Retrieved from

Velenti, D. (2020). Expert, Pair of Hands, or Collaborator—Which Role Do You Play?. Retrieved from [Accessed 20 Jan. 2020].

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