If you follow the scholarship on civil society you already know the work of Lester Salamon, at Johns Hopkins. Given his internationally known work on the nonpropfit sector, you may be suprised to learn is that he has a new volume out, Leverage for Good: An Introduction to the New Frontiers of Philanthropy and Social Investment. That is turn is the first section of an extended volume, soon to be published. He has mastered the burgeoning field of social investment, and its supporting infrastructure. His attitude is optimistic, supportive, and also cautionary. In other words, balanced. The book could and should raise the quality of conversation about market solutions to social ills.
In one of my favorite passages Salamon mentions a list of 400 social good criteria and says, in effect, this is like a second grade drawing contest in which every kid leaves with a prize. In other words with hundreds of social good criteria to choose from, why would not a diabolical company or diabolically self decieved or complacent or opportunistic socal entrepreneur not cherry pick the one social thing made better, along with profits, and ignore the 399 dimensions on which social impact is negligible, counter-productive, or disastrous? (Why measure what you can't manage to your own benefit? Why measure your own collossal failure in all dimensions other than the one or two that reflect well on the Enterprise?) How is this different from branding and how will more of that save the world? It sounds kind of like business as usual or Wealth Bondage Rebooted as we say here. That diatribe, of course, is me riffing on Salamon who is a) better informed, b) smarter, c) more balanced, and d) living in a real house, not a Dumpter. Get the book, weigh his views, and let's see if we can all live in houses, some sweet day, when Astraea the goddess of Justice returns in Market Form to guide her mechanical men and women to measure ends.