Review of The Big Con by Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington
Published: 2023
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A Bold Examination of a Powerful Industry

In "The Big Con: Rethinking the Role of Consulting," Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington deliver a thought-provoking critique of the consulting industry and its impact on contemporary business and government practices. Their insightful analysis sheds light on the complex dynamics between consultants, corporations, and governments, exposing the potential pitfalls and consequences of this entrenched relationship.

Mazzucato and Collington present a compelling case against the consulting industry, highlighting how powerful firms such as McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and others have shaped our economies and governance structures. They argue that the industry's growth since the 1980s and 1990s, fueled by neoliberal and Third Way reforms, has fostered a reliance on consultants that impedes innovation, obfuscates accountability, and hampers efforts to address urgent challenges like the climate crisis.

What sets this book apart is its in-depth examination of real-world case studies, providing concrete examples of the negative ramifications of consulting interventions. The authors draw attention to high-profile failures such as the botched launch of HealthCare.gov and inadequate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, exposing the risks associated with consultants assuming significant decision-making roles.

"The Big Con" goes beyond a mere critique, offering a path towards a more inclusive and sustainable future. Mazzucato and Collington advocate for a collaborative approach, urging the public and private sectors to work together in pursuit of the common good. They emphasize the importance of transparency, accountability, and a shift away from short-term profit-maximization in favor of long-term value creation.

The book's strength lies in its well-researched arguments and wealth of original insights. The authors bring together scholarly analysis and real-world examples, making their message accessible to a broad audience. The engaging writing style enhances the reading experience, providing an intellectual journey into the heart of the modern economy.

While "The Big Con" provides a compelling critique, it would have benefited from exploring diverse perspectives within the consulting industry. The book primarily focuses on the negative aspects of consulting, leaving little room for acknowledging potential benefits or success stories. A more balanced approach would have enriched the overall argument.

In conclusion, "The Big Con: Rethinking the Role of Consulting" is a thought-provoking and timely book that challenges the status quo. Mazzucato and Collington present a compelling case for reevaluating the consulting industry's influence, emphasizing the need for collaboration, accountability, and long-term sustainability. This book will appeal to readers interested in understanding the complex interplay between consulting, business, and governance, and those seeking to shape a future where collective progress takes precedence over short-term gains.

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