5th February, 2013 was a special day to remember for the entire student community at IIMB including the EPGP students. All of us had read many articles by Henry Mintzberg in Organizational Behavior and other subjects but were thrilled to listen to the legendary management thinker in person. An astonishingly simple and approachable person, Prof. Mintzberg enthralled a packed IIMB auditorium giving his views, or more of a preview, of his research on “Rebalancing Society – Radical Renewal beyond Left, Right and Centre”.
Prof. Mintzberg articulated his concern on the societal imbalance present where capitalism and communism are each considered by the respective proponents that their philosophy is the only correct viewpoint and their viewpoints lead to an efficient society. However by looking at the history of the world we would see that the communist regimes by its very nature of complete lack of choice and removal of incentive led to the rise of capitalist philosophy. The capitalist regimes engulfed the world and the fall of the Soviet Union only led to, in his words, “an unholy alliance of economic dogma with corporate entitlement”. Drawing a sharp contrast between corporates being considered as having their identity as an entity/person whilst its employees having to do with being called human resources, Prof. Mintzberg called upon the audience to move from a culture of “exploiting resources” to one of “exploring resourcefulness”.
He said that society must now move from the conventional bipolar Marxist vs. Capitalist philosophies to a balanced society standing on the pillars of the public sector (political), private sector (economic) and the plural sector (social).
He described the plural sector as member owned or non-owned social movements or initiatives underlying which would be called ‘communityship’. He reminded us that Greenpeace is owned by nobody, McGill University where he teaches is owned by nobody, Harvard University is also owned by nobody. This according to him is the plural sector but he warned us that communityship does not come without its risks – after all Nazism was an extreme form of communityship. Another problem with plural sector is not its absence in some countries but its invisibility. This however should not deter us from a radical renewal with reflection, resistance, regeneration, reform and revolution and restore balance to society.
Quoting Thomas Paine during the American Revolution in 1776, Prof. Mintzberg concluded that “We have it our power to begin the world again”.
IIMB EPGP students wish to extend their heartfelt thanks to Prof. Mintzberg for taking his valuable time off to address the IIMB audience.