accountabilitybloke (old blog)

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A major regret…

When I attended graduate school at Colorado-Boulder from 1968-1974, Kenneth Boulding was in the economics department and associated with some institute on campus. Although I did take a seminar in development economics, I now regret not having reached out to him or taken a course form him — his work on The Image played a major role in my dissertation research. But at the time there was only one seminar he offered regularly — I cannot recall its subject or title, but it had one text: Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. I suspect I might have avoided that course because reading Smith did not seem relevant at the time….

Fast forward a quarter century (plus) later and I find myself undetaking a “close reading” of Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS). I had given it a superficial read years ago, and more recently have focused on certain sections and the secondary literature; but this close reading exercise is really deepening my appreciation of Smith as a significant social theorist whose contributions in that role are little known or appreciated.

I have to admit that, were I given the opportunity to teach a doctoral level course on the theory of accountability and governance (can’t do that now since we have no PhD students at UNH) I would emulate Boulding by working off of a single Smith text, but my selection would be TMS…

June 11th, 2009 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments

Moving targets and bridge crossings….

Writing a paper focused on various explanations of the financial crisis is one of those “aiming at a moving target” experiences. The Planet Money folks at NPR are making matters worse with their terrific segments (for the various NPR news shows and This American Life. In a move that is a bit strange, last Friday they offered some “outtake” material (listen here – first 17:20 of podcast) from the TAL show that would not air until Sunday — but fortunately I did not get to those until after hearing the Watchmen podcast. Put the two together in Sunday-Friday sequence and you really have a terrific bit of informative reporting….

Also included in the Friday show was a piece (starting at about 17:20) about an “oath” taken by Harvard MBA grads last week (also here) — an oath that would (if taken seriously) commit the takers to a carerr of “creating social value” in addition to the value they create for corporate share/stakeholders. This sounded awfully familiar, since one of the most notable themes of Mark Moore and his colleagues at the JFK School “down the road” (actually, across the bridge) from HBS is teaching their public administration/affairs folks to “create public value”( also here). Sure enough, the student interviewed as part of the Planet Money piece was actually a student at JFK as well…..

June 11th, 2009 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments