Founded in Boston in 1886, Arthur D. Little lays claim to the dual titles of first and oldest management consulting firm in the world.  The pioneering spirit of the founder who lent the firm its name is the stuff of legend--and the firm he founded is still going strong, even after completing a journey that has seen it go from private entity to public corporation (via a period of ownership by Altran Technologies), and back to private following a 2012 management buyout. 

The 1,000-plus consultants it employs today find themselves spread across 30 countries, offering tailored services to clients in industries including automotive, chemicals, energy and utilities, financial services, health care/life sciences, manufacturing, TIME (telecommunications, information technology, media and electronics), consumer products, private equity and transportation.  The firm also serves state and federal agencies, as well as foreign governments.

Founding fathers
Arthur Dehon Little was only half of the partnership of chemists that founded the firm.   The other half was his fellow MIT classmate Roger Griffin, and together the pair set up as researchers for hire, pioneering the concept of process improvement through outsourcing research.  Originally called Griffin and Little, the company’s name was changed following Griffin's untimely death in 1893, when an experiment went awry.

As his firm grew in size and capability over the years, Mr. Little developed something of a genius for eye-catching PR stunts, which served no small role in increasing the firm's visibility and, thus, client base.  Among the stunts designed to prove Little's maxim of "Who says it can't be done?" were Little literally turning a sow's ear into a silk purse, as well as a competition among a group of staff in the 1970s to make a lead balloon fly--both of which achieved considerable acclaim.

Those feats brought some visibility to the company, underscoring the unusual measures it was prepared to take to get the job done, and establishing Arthur D. Little as a leading name in the field by the 1960s--a position it maintained until the late 1990s, and a reputation it guards to this day.  "Arthur D. Little may not be the easiest global firm to manage, but it will never become one of the 'grey' consulting firms where everyone gets brainwashed into behaving the same way and delivering the same product--unthinkable."  So wrote Rick Eager, U.K. managing director of Arthur D. Little in a 2006 overview of the firm's history.  "The firm's great strength is its people and its culture.  More Vivienne Westwood than Chanel--vive la différence!"

After the boom
After a corporate restructuring in 2002, Arthur D. Little sold off parts of its business (and reduced its workforce by almost half).  Altran Technologies bought the core management consulting business, as well as the Arthur D. Little name. This change led, perhaps unintentionally, to increased attention on business affairs in Europe, rather than in North America. Confirmation of that change has been underlined by the location of the firm's headquarters: having shifted to Paris in 2006, the center of ADL's operations is now in Brussels, Belgium.


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Arthur D. Little Europe

51, rue François 1er
Paris 75008
Phone: +33 1 55 74 29 00
Fax: +33 1 55 74 28 03


  • Employer Type: Public
  • Stock Symbol: ALTRAN TECHN
  • Stock Exchange: Euronext Paris
  • Global CEO: Ignacio Garcia Alves
  • 2009 Employees: 1,000

  • Employment Contact

  • Major Departments & Practices

    Strategy & Organization

    Operations Management

    Technology & Innovation Management

    Information Management


Major Office Locations

  • Brussels

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