Cory Leonard

Are Social Entrepreneurs Too Idealistic? | Dowser

In career on April 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm

The debate over whether social entrepreneurs are making a difference (really) is one that strikes close to home.  We receive numerous requests each month to support everything from small initiatives to major organizations–all with charitable, humanitarian, and other ‘save the world’ motives.  Since they are all working “internationally” they expect us to be sympathetic and supportive.

One major question that academics and policymakers are focusing on, thankfully, is the issue of accountability and effectiveness.  Certainly BYU’s PEAT and PEDL Lab are oriented in this direction.

David Brooks waded into this and I have to admit I’m sympathetic.  Just because you want to make a difference doesn’t mean that you will.  Even so, I suspect there is something more powerful at work, and as a closet socio-psychologist, Brooks takes aim.  “In short, there’s only so much good you can do unless you are willing to confront corruption, venality and disorder head-on. So if I could, presumptuously, recommend a reading list to help these activists fill in the gaps in the prevailing service ethos, I’d start with the novels of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, or at least the movies based on them.”  In short, Brooks thinks we need more Mormon’s like Jack Anderson and fewer NGOs–at least the kind that we tend to see proliferating now.

Others may rain on Brooks and his “hardheaded” parade:

Powell told Dowser that he sees Brooks’ arguments as symptomatic of a generational divide. “An older generation grew up in a world with many more trade-offs, in the sense that if you were ambitious, it meant you wanted to go into politics or make money,” said Powell.

Today, however, being ambitious bears a much wider scope, beyond making money. Powell thinks that it has to do with “the extraordinary amount of investment that has gone into the Millennials’ education,” he said.

“Young people today with all these communication tools are able to project their ideas faster than any generation in history. They want to lead lives of significance in a world that has so many problems and challenges that they’re aware of, because they’re highly-educated,” said Powell.

via Are Social Entrepreneurs Too Idealistic? | Dowser.

What do you think?  Is Brooks too harsh or hitting the right note, kindly.

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