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You are here: Home > Suggested readings > Helmut Willke - Smart Governance / Governing the Global Knowledge Society - ISBN 9783593382531 - 3.5/5

Viewed 2047 times | Published on 2018-09-26 15:24:49


Willke, Helmut
Smart Governance: Governing the Global Knowledge Society
BookID 160823830
ISBN isbn
(see LibraryThing.com card)
Description (from Amazon)In the wake of globalization, national governments are becoming increasingly interdependent, and knowledge is arguably becoming the most valuable form of capital. Helmut Willke?s Smart Governance offers a new perspective on global governance from the vantage point of a global knowledge society.

Employing a case study of the global financial system and an analysis of several governance regimes, Willke contends that markets, legal systems, and morality must evolve to cope with uncertainty, build capacities, and achieve resilience. Smart Governance will change the way economists, historians, and political scientists view international cooperation.

My review: 3.5/5This book review actually covers not one, but two books.

Beware: as usual, my reviews are from a cultural and organizational change perspective, and, as it happens, beside serendipity, what drives my readings and books purchases is... feeling that I need to cross some Ts and dot some Is before sharing my own ideas and experience (or experience I received through others) into a yet another book.

And, as it often happens whenever I post a "dual" review, it covers two apparently opposite viewpoints.

Apparently, as both books are about Governance.

Anyway, I will post an identical review, just in case.

The books are:

Smart Governance: Governing the Global Knowledge Society by Helmut Willke

"Gouvernance": Le management totalitaire (French Edition) by Alain Deneault

Just to start with: the former, in my view, deserves a 3.5 (bordering 4) out of 5, the is the now-ordinary French leftist rumbling that is long on (selective) analysis, short on proposals- albeit it claims to do just the opposite; it would deserve a 2.5 out of 5, but gets a 3 for the effort, as it could seed something more interesting.

But, in their own way, these two books actually complete each other.

Let's start with Deneault's book.

I bought the book because I saw an Italian edition in a bookstore, and sounded as if it would be better to read it in French.

Why? Because it is typical of this kind of books: the author has to stretch across a grandiose scheme and each phrase, weakening actually the argument.

Pity, because the "50 theses" proposed by the author are actually a point-and-counterpoint worth considering whenever you consider an intervention on governance or setting up a new organizational or social structure.

Why? Because, in cultural and organizational change, you always need a "Devil's Advocate" tossing objections at you.

But beware: I bought the Kindle version of the book, as it was immediately available (and significantly cheaper), as, after seeing the sample and seeing how it was structured, it was a perfect "while waiting" e-book.

Meaning: short chapters, what you can read in small bits.

Moreover, it comes with an extensive collection of links and reference, albeit just few pages of conclusions/proposals that are nothing more than platitudes.

More about that later.

As for the other book: frankly, it contains concepts that you would have to read few dozen books to put one after the other.

Weakness: a little bit short on analysis, but, at least, the "proposals" section is extensive.

Probably, the most interesting part is some consideration that, coming from different perspectives on the concept of governance and globalization, makes actually the two authors converge.

First, our "democratic deficit": they disagree on causes (I am inclined to side with Willke- it is embedded in the concept of a "knowledge economy", i.e. complexity), but both see risks within unsupervised global governance while democracy is still fractured about jurisdictions.

On this point, Willke is more useful: instead of just complaining, he outlines issues that any practictioner of organizational change or politics will recognize, but he shares also interesting concepts worth further development.

A strength of Willke's way of sharing his own ideas, is the way he summarizes.

A little bit too "academic" in his selection of words, but still useful to any HR change staff (i.e. those that probably read more than a few books).

Example: he adds an interesting twist on why a "federalist" approach is probably more needed now than before, but talks about "vertical subsidiarity" (what we are used to within the European Union- to simplify, do it at the lowest level possible, do not build a Gosplan), and then adds a much needed "horizontal subsidiarity".

Anybody who worked in real multinational businesses over the last 30 years knows what he is referring to, after reading the explanation.

In the late XX century, we greatly expanded specialization, and this created further degrees of complexity, as experts are more than inclined to build their own lingo and become a "closed community": they deliver "edicts", they don't explain.

Now, when change in any field happens on a continuous basis, it becomes a nightmare to make all those "tribes" converge, moreover when, as the author wrote, citizens are not anymore citizen of a state, but really their lives are structured around one or more "knowledge supply chains" they belong to.

In the end, I would suggest reading both books before adopting a new grandiose scheme about moving your business (or your town) onto a "Business 4.0" or "smart city" paradigm, as they will both save you from entering plenty of blind alleys.

I am a consultant, but... maybe reading the books before engaging (or even selecting) consultants could help you do a better job in "vetting" them, i.e. seeing how much they are delivering "rota learning", and how much they listen before they try to reuse what they (or their bosses) already did with another company.

If interested: I am going to eventually post more material from this books, as for me are part of the "background cross-checking to avoid reinventing the wheel" before publishing another book, so you can contact me on linkedin.com/in/robertolofaro

[Review released on 2018-09-26]
Outline material: No outline material yet shared