This paper offers a longitudinal analysis of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC). Drawing on archive sources, we consider the manner in which the IMC sought to institutionalize a form of expertise specific to management consultants. Rejecting attempts to locate the boundaries of such expertise within idealized, archetypal frameworks, we analyse the IMC’s attempts to secure occupational closure in the field of consulting by means of normative, cognitive and symbolic mechanisms. While others account for the Institute’s professional project as a failure consequent upon consulting’s fragmentary knowledge base, we suggest that this project did not so much fail as drift towards another ‘hybrid’ form. In an attempt (a) to account for this shift and (b) to outline its key contours, we offer an archival analysis that explores the manner in which the Institute sought to reconcile the multiple interests and competing logics that construct professionalism within the field of consulting.