Chanced upon Mariana Mazzucato’s The Big Con in the bookstore today and took the chance to read a bit of it. I first heard of the book from the media and my curiosity was piqued, not least because I’m a consultant myself. The firms highlighted by the book are the usual big consulting groups and Mariana’s main area of attack was on their work for governments enfeebling the public sector and exercising undue influence on the decision and politics of countries.
Being focused on the energy transition, I thought perhaps that my work is less implicated by Mariana’s attack but having been a public servant myself, I do wander if the government contracting out work to the consulting industry is a problem in itself. I think for Singapore, we can safely say that Mariana’s attacks don’t have teeth because the public sector in Singapore maintains a lot of the critical capabilities and information even whilst drawing upon consultants to help drive forward its work.
The Big Con then has in mind very specific governments as targets and in some sense, cherry-pick specific stories, case studies and situations to make its argument. Nevertheless, I still empathize with what the authors are driving at and the change they are hoping to make. Mariana Mazzucatto also wrote The Mission Economy and while I have not read it, I understand the underlying ideas and how The Big Con interacts with some of those fundamental notions. I do think that governments and more actors in the economy needs to get together to galvanise the economy and wider society to collectively embark on the joint mission for a future that is worth creating.