Which do you prefer?
- Those educated in the liberal arts , or in religion, lead a nonprofit, for-profit, or government agency. Their focus is on a vision of human flourishing. They hire MBAs and other experts to carry out that vision.
- MBAs and other technical experts are in charge. Their vision is one of effective and efficient optimization of numbers on a spreadsheet. They hire liberal arts graduates to staff public relations, advertising, and to serve as their speech writers.
When we talk philanthropy as part of a "social capital market" we have plumped for #2. We have taken the vision and vocabulary and dead metaphors of MBAs and put them over them over philosophy, literature, ethics, political theory, history, religion and so on. We expect those disciplines to fall into place beneath the MBAs and the financial people to optimize a number. We have people of ends reporting to people of means; people of vision reporting to spreadsheet or managerial people. I do not think this is a good way to run our society, but it is the increasingly well accepted norm. I am honestly amazed that Lucy Bernholz not only goes along with it, but is at the forefront of it. I would have thought she, as a liberally educated person, would have reservations. But as time goes on, I am afraid we will all be talking the language of business in every sector. So, I do it on company time, and at night skulk around a Dumpster stocked with old books tossed away by the rising generations.
Added later: Is the MBA Over Valued? at Give and Take picks up on this post.