by Lorenzo Piccoli

Last week I finally read Intelligent Life‘s article on Ricken Patel, the young Canadian who founded Avaaz, which is now a major global civic organization with the world’s largest online activist community, including over 20 million subscribers.

The article is about a lot of different things, but there is one in particular I noted down. It is about the reason why Patel started his own company after trying to do some good working for public organizations such as the International Crisis Group, the United Nations, CARE International and the International Center for Transitional Justice. The reason why he gave up working for the public sector is that it is “just mandate-obsessed and risk-averse and controversy-allergic”. Bingo. This is exactly what I have been elaborating – also with Nick and Mindo, here – while working for a total of about twelve months for three different public administrations. Of course, this is just a bit more simplistic and practical vision on the public sector than Max Weber’s iron cage theory. This is, however, the reason why the public sector is often under-performing in such a spectacular way.