Small Change: Why Business Won't Save the World

Small Change: Why Business Won't Save the World

by Michael Edwards
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Overview

Small Change: Why Business Won't Save the World by Michael Edwards

A powerful critique of a seemingly beneficial trend that is actually undermining the effectiveness of philanthropy Written by an insider -- a former official with several high-profile nonprofits Co-published with the prominent New York think tank Demos A new movement is afoot that promises to save the world by bringing the magic of the market to philanthropy. Nonprofits should be run like businesses, its adherents say, and businesses can find new sources of revenue by marketing goods and services that benefit society. Dubbed “philanthrocapitalism,” its supporters believe that business principles can and should be the primary drivers of social transformation. What could be wrong with that? Plenty, argues, former Ford Foundation director Michael Edwards. In this hard-hitting, controversial expose he marshals a wealth of evidence to show just how far short the promise of philnthrocapitalism has fallen, and why the whole concept is fundamentally flawed. Some business practices can be beneficial to nonprofits, and it’s definitely a good thing that the for-profit sector is developing a social conscience. Edwards carefully specifies when businesses and business thinking can help. But to really get at the root causes of the systemic problems most nonprofits wrestle with—hunger, poverty, disease, violence—requires a completely different way of operating. Social transformation demands cooperation rather than competition, collective action more than individual effort, and values patient, long-term support for solutions over short-term results. Philanthrocapitalism concentrates power in the hands of a few major players, mirroring the very inequities civil organizations should be trying to ameliorate. With a vested interest in the status quo it shies away from fundamental change. At most all it can promise is valuable but limited advances: small change. Ultimately, Edwards argues that the use of business thinking can and does corrupt civil society. It’s time to differentiate the two and re-assert the independence of global citizen action.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781605096551
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 01/11/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 125
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Michael Edwards is a writer and activist affiliated with the think tank Demos in New York, the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and the Brooks World Poverty Institute at Manchester University in the UK. Previously, he was director of the Ford Foundation’s Governance and Civil Society Program and worked for the World Bank, Oxfam, and Save the Children.

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Small Change: Why Business Won't Save the World 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Popular wisdom says that nonprofit entities could achieve reform and efficiency best by acting like for-profits, and that being businesslike is the finest all-purpose path for organizations addressing the world's problems. Social activist Michael Edwards disagrees. In this thoughtful, articulate argument, he enumerates - without ever slipping into polemic ¬- the pitfalls in that line of thinking. He explains how nonprofits develop their own methods, and how vulnerable their processes are to inflexible thinking. He discusses with clarity and rigor the likely role business tactics could play in solving pressing issues, and he examines how capitalism and philanthropy do and do not work together. At first, this fascinating discussion seems contrarian, but it gains common sense as it goes along. getAbstract highly recommends this book to those who want to know how capitalism and philanthropy unite, to those who are interested in changing the world (or even the street) and, of course, to anyone with billions who wants to shift the social dynamic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Small Change should be required reading for every foundation board member and program officer, every major donor -- in fact, philanthropists of any description. In this tiny volume, Michael Edwards lays bare the fatal flaws in the philanthropic world in America today and offers a prescription for healing the field that could play a major role in putting our country back on track to leading with its values. Oddly enough, Edwards did not set out to write a critique of American philanthropy. The book is subtitled Why Business Won't Save the World, and the author's stated objective was to debate the dubious claims of the "philanthrocapitalism" espoused by The Economist's Michael Bishop and others, the "creative capitalism" offered by Bill Gates, the "fortune at the bottom of the pyramid" of C. K. Prahalad, "corporate social responsibility" of the window-dressing variety, and "social enterprise" in virtually all its guises. His goal, in short, was to reject the role of business, business thinking, and the market as solutions for the ills of the nonprofit sector. Michael Edwards is brilliant, articulate, and extremely knowledgeable about philanthropy, civil society, and social change, all of which are major themes in this book. For nearly ten years, he directed the Ford Foundation's Governance and Civil Society Program, and he has spent a total of three decades in the nonprofit sector. On matters involving business he is less sure-footed. In the course of writing this book, he conducted extensive research on the role of business and business thinking in the not-for-profit world. That research shows clearly in Edwards' eloquent critique of philanthropy that either comes directly from corporate sources or is guided by the metrics-driven methodologies of the business world." From Mal Warwick's blog on books: http://malwarwickonbooks.com/2010/02/15/small-change-by-michael-edwards/