Effective working relationships between information systems (IS) specialists and their business clients are an essential organizational asset. They contribute to customer satisfaction, IT project success, and IS specialist credibility. In turn, high quality IS-client relationships are influenced by the roles IS specialists adopt as they interact with clients on IS implementation tasks. IS specialist roles may be classified as “technical expert”, “pair-of-hands” and “collaborator”, where these terms are defined as in the consulting skills literature. Prior research has shown that the technical expert and pair-of-hands roles contribute to low quality IS-client working relationships, while the collaborator role contributes to higher-quality relationships. Therefore, the influences on--, IS specialists’ role choice is a topic of great theoretical and practical importance. This paper looks for such influences originating in the institutional context of IS work. In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the employment status of IS specialists. Many now perform IS work as external consultants rather than as employees of the organizations for whom the IS work is performed. Therefore, the context more likely to influence IS specialist role choice is that of the specialist’s employer rather than that of the client organization (when the two differ). Our findings show that the human resource management policies and service climate in the IS specialist’s employer are strongly associated with the IS specialist’s role choice. This finding has important implications for IS personnel theory and practice.