ICMCI National Consultancy Index 
estimating the size of management consulting markets around the world

Prepared for and on behalf of ICMCI by ICMCI Volunteers - Simon Haslam, Robert Bodenstein, and Tamara Abdel-Jaber


The ICMCI National Consulting Index (NCI) is a method of estimating the size ($ value) of the management consulting (MC) sector in any country in the world.  The NCI is founded on a ICMCI research workstream which started in 2018, the Consulting Readiness Index project.  

The value of the global consulting industry is estimated at over $130bn (consultancy.org, 2018).  It is generally accepted that the world’s bigger economies are also where the bigger national MC sectors exist - the European Federation of Management Consultancies estimates that three countries (France, Germany and UK) generate nearly three quarters of consulting revenue (FEACO, 2017).  However, there is also substantial cross-national variance in its prominence of MC as an activity   Data reported by consulting.org, based on World Bank information, suggested a seven-fold difference between the prominence of MC as a proportion of national gross domestic product across a sample of nations (Consulting.org, 2018).

The lack of cross-national insight in the consulting sector has been well recognized (Kipping M, and Wright C, 2012).  The reasons why MC markets vary has much to do with how the broader field of management practice varies globally (O’Mahoney and Markham, 2013). Sturdy and O’Mahoney (2018) summarized five factors which their research showed drove national differences in management practice and influenced the propensity for MC to be part of that recipe.  These are: 1) the economy (not just the size of the economy but economic ideology, financial systems and corporate governance; 2) the state (including regulation and public policy); 3) culture and ideologies; 4) organizations and their relationships (employee/industrial relations and inter-firm relationships); and 5) education.  These form a useful platform for deeper investigation into differences in MC adoption

2. Creating the NCI

The aim of the NCI project was to be able to identify factors that seemed to account for variances in the strength of national MC sectors and then, by creating the NCI for each country, estimating the value of any country’s MC market.

The first stage was to quantify of the degree of difference in the strength of MC between countries.  For this, data from fourteen countries were selected for which the size of the MC sector was already known.   These countries were, by alphabetical order: Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; France; Germany; Italy; Netherlands; Japan; Russia; Spain; Switzerland; UK, and USA. The size ($m) of the MC sectors in each of these countries, along with the countries’ GDP data are shown in the detailed report HERE.

The foundation for this research is data on these fourteen countries’ MC markets provided by Source Global Research1.  Those familiar with the global consulting sector will recognize Source Global Research as independent commercial body which researches the sector and acts a consultant/information source to many of the major players in the worldwide professional services.  A single reference for MC market size was essential to enable valid comparisons country to country.  Source’s explanation of ‘management consulting’ embraces advisory services2  but not implementation services (for example delivering technology/change projects) or additional fees that consultants may earn through consulting work (for example risk insurance commissions).  The CRI study focuses on this understanding of MC, not the broader category of ‘consulting’.

The aim was to give the NCI worldwide applicability.  This meant that factors of relevance to the NCI were those with global scope and global consistency in their provenance.  This requirement had the effect of excluding some potentially useful factors at screening stage.  But this requirement meant that whatever the NCI research concluded it could be used with confidence in any country in the world.  There was an understanding that as an index, the NCI would draw in secondary data as primary research conducted faithfully across the 190+ countries on the planet would be both expensive and time consuming.  We also suspected that no single extra factor would account for the MC variance and the NCI would be a multi-factor index.

We followed these principles in the creation of NCI:

  1. to only work with factors which were reliable on a global basis, which means their data were based on the same assumptions and research method, which help facilitate relevant comparison between different countries anywhere in the world;
  2. to only work with factors that were valid in this context, which means the factor (or combination of factors) show a strong correlation with the National GDP as a variance;
  3. to not confuse correlation with causality, the role of the NCI is to provide a means of estimating the size of any country’s management consulting sector; and
  4. to exercise prudence in the creation of the NCI, with the starting point that each factor merits equal weighting and each factor should be different to other factors (recognizing that some of the factors may be of multi-factor indices themselves and there was a danger of double counting an ingredient).

With the help of prior research into variances in national MC markets and input from the ICMCI’s global network of academic fellows, a list of thirty-seven possible factors was created.  Each of these factors was considered from two perspectives, reliability and validity.



2  Advisory services include strategy, HR, operations, risk, M&A due diligence, technology/digital strategy consulting.