The New School Book Launch: The Big Con
05 April 2023, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm
Join us at the for the The New School New York or online for the book launch of "The Big Con: How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Businesses, Infantilizes our Governments and Warps our Economies" by Prof. Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington.
This event is free.
There is an entrenched relationship between the consulting industry and the way business and government are managed today which must change. Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington show that our economies’ reliance on companies such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY stunts innovation, obfuscates corporate and political accountability and impedes our collective mission of halting climate breakdown.
The ‘Big Con’ describes the confidence trick the consulting industry performs in contracts with hollowed-out and risk-averse governments and shareholder value-maximizing firms. It grew from the 1980s and 1990s in the wake of reforms by both the neoliberal right and Third Way progressives, and it thrives on the ills of modern capitalism, from financialization and privatization to the climate crisis. It is possible because of the unique power that big consultancies wield through extensive contracts and networks – as advisors, legitimators and outsourcers – and the illusion that they are objective sources of expertise and capacity. To make matters worse, our best and brightest graduates are often redirected away from public service into consulting.
In all these ways, the Big Con weakens our businesses, infantilizes our governments and warps our economies. Mazzucato and Collington expertly debunk the myth that consultancies always add value to the economy. With a wealth of original research, they argue brilliantly for investment and collective intelligence within all organizations and communities, and for a new system in which public and private sectors work innovatively for the common good. We must recalibrate the role of consultants and rebuild economies and governments that are fit for purpose.
- Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Founding Director UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose
- Prof. Darrick Hamilton, The New School
- Mike Forsythe, New York Times & co-author of 'When McKinsey Comes to Town'
Where: The New School, Alvin Johnson/JM Kaplan Hall, 66 W 12th Street, NY, 10011 and online
When: Wednesday 5 April @ 18:00 - 19:30 EST
The Big Con reviews
- The Big Con by Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington review – how consultancy firms cash in | The Guardian | 16 February 2023
- Reinventing public purpose | The Lancet | 25 February 2023
- The Big Con review — time to cut out the consultants | The Times | 19 February 2023
- Big Consulting’s New Con | Prospect | 6 March 2023
- How consultancy bleeds Britain dry | The New Statesman | 14 February 2023
- The books to read in 2023 | Financial Times | 9 January 2023
About the Speakers
Prof Mariana Mazzucato
Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, Director, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
She is winner of international prizes including the Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 2021, Italy’s highest civilian honour, the 2020 John von Neumann Award, the 2019 All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values, and the 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. She was named as one of the ‘3 most important thinkers about innovation‘ by The New Republic, one of the 50 most creative people in business in 2020 by Fast Company, and one of the 25 leaders shaping the future of capitalism by WIRED. Most recently, Pope Francis appointed her to the Pontifical Academy for Life for bringing “more humanity” to the world.
She is the author of four highly-acclaimed books: The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths (2013) which investigates the critical role the state plays in driving growth; The Value of Everything: making and taking in the global economy (2018) which looks at how value creation needs to be rewarded over value extraction; Mission Economy: a moonshot guide to changing capitalism (2021) rethinks the capacity and role of government within the economy and society; and most recently The Big Con: How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Businesses, Infantilizes our Governments and Warps our Economies (2023).
She advises policy makers around the world on innovation-led inclusive and sustainable growth. Her current roles include being Chair of the World Health Organization’s Council on the Economics of Health for All, Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, Co-Chair on the Council on Urban Initiatives, member of the South African President’s Economic Advisory Council, the UN High Level Advisory Board for Economic and Social Affairs, the European Space Agency’s High-Level Advisory Group on Human and Robotic Space Exploration for Europe, Argentina’s Economic and Social Council and Vinnova’s Advisory Panel in Sweden and the OECD High-Level Advisory Panel on Climate and Economic Resilience. Previously, through her role as Special Advisor for the EC Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation (2017-2019), she authored the high-impact report on Mission-Oriented Research and Innovation in the European Union, turning “missions” into a crucial new instrument in the European Commission’s Horizon innovation programme, and more recently, authored a report with the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on Transformational Change in Latin America and the Caribbean: A mission-oriented approach. More about Prof Mariana Mazzucato
Prof. Darrick Hamilton
Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy at The New School
Hamilton has been involved in crafting policy proposals, such as Baby Bonds and a Federal Job Guarantee, which have garnered a great deal of media attention and served as inspirations for legislative proposals at the federal, state and local levels. He has served as a member of the economic committee of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force; he has testified before several senate and house committees, including the Joint Economic Committee on the nation’s potential policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic-induced health and economic crises; he was a surrogate and advisor for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign; and he has advised numerous other leading Members of Congress, as well as various 2020 presidential candidates. More about Prof. Darrick Hamilton
Reporter on the investigations team and co-author of 'When McKinsey Comes to Town' at New York Times
Until 2013 he was a reporter at Bloomberg News in Beijing and Washington and was part of a team that won the George Polk Award in 2013 for a series that exposed the fortunes of the elite families of China’s Communist Party.
Mr. Forsythe is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he served on ships in the Seventh Fleet. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in international economics, as well as Harvard University, where he obtained a master’s degree in East Asian studies. More about Mike Forsythe