Introduction It was McKenna (2006, p, 43) who poised this question “is the business environment in which consultants work becoming highly unethical? He answers this question by stating that it is difficult to state if unethical business practices are on increase in recent past, or not, though he adds that it appears like it…
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Hence bring a sharp focus on ethical or unethical practices of consultants. This paper, therefore, aims to examine the raising concern that consulting industry is unethical in its operations. To examine this issue, the paper will highlight the UK consulting industry; review unethical practices in the recent financial crisis by auditing firms and mention the contentions put forward by consulting industry, and lastly close the paper with a conclusion. Consulting industry in UK The consulting industry in UK has undergone tremendous growth over the years, as at 2006 the industry was worth over 7.7 billion pounds (PWC 2006), overtaken by only the American consulting industry. According to O’ Mahoney (2010) this record increase in the consulting industry indicates and comprises the role it plays in the globalized economy, and therefore a central aspect of Beck’s concept of second modernity. According to Beck (1995), consultancy, accounting and medical fields are some of the professions that have characterized the advancement and commodification of knowledge and skills contested by him in what he calls as hyper-modernity. As such Beck (2005) points out that in its role as a driver to the multinational corporations, consultancy occupies a central position in regard to risks and ethics. O’ Mahoney (2011) clearly observes that the high growth of consultancy over the past twenty years has lead to increased ability of consultancy in terms of the harm it can do, this an increased focus on the manner in which ethics operate within the industry. This increased focus on ethics has come from many directions (Craig, 2005). While the main media widely covered the participation of consultancies like Accenture and McKinsey in the collapse of Enron, the fall of Northern Rock covered by recently by popular media exposed the unethical and sometimes unlawful activities of consultancies in pursing profits (Craig and Brooks, 2006). More so, as public sector spends more on consulting services, usually involving mega failures, agencies charged with ensuring the government gets value for what it pays for, for example, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) ns the National Audit office(NAO), have become more and more vocal in their disapproval of amounts spend on these consultancies (Craig, 2005). Owing to such widespread concerns from different parties, it could have been expected that the consulting industry would have undergone similar regulatory initiatives and measures as those enforced within the financial services sector (O’ Mahoney, 2011). However, as pointed out by Craig and Brooks (2006) this has not been done. Whereas, consultants have certainly undertaken some measures to emphasize their ethical records, these measures still remains voluntary, and in many cases they focuses on individual level, instead of corporate level. Thus, according to O’ Mahoney (2011) these measures have had little effect on the ethical outcomes of industrial practice. Example of failure and unethical practices: Financial crises The recent financial crisis brought about a heated debate on modern auditing practice. In deed, Sikka (2009) points out that during the financial crisis, financial institutions sought for government financial assistance, after getting unqualified audit report. On the other hand, auditors were paid huge amounts in fees for auditing work. This observation raise
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