Just Another Emperor?

Just Another Emperor?

April 18, 2008

A new movement is afoot that promises to save the world by revolutionizing philanthropy, making non-profit organizations operate like business, and creating new markets for goods and services that benefit society. Nick-named "philanthrocapitalism" for short, its supporters believe that business principles can be successfully combined with the search for social transformation. Just Another Emperor? (published in collaboration with the Young Foundation in the UK) is the first book to take a comprehensive and critical look at this vital new phenomenon.

While acknowledging the potential positive impact of this new approach to philanthropy, Michael Edwards warns that the hype has run far ahead of the reality. He shows that there is very little evidence to support the claims that business methods are superior in achieving social goals, citing author Jim Collins' conclusion that "we must reject the idea — well-intentioned, but dead wrong — that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become more like a business." Edwards also shows that philanthrocapitalism is as much a symptom of a particular phase of economic change as a cure.

Just Another Emperor offers a series of recommendations for the new philanthropists including greater humility, and more recognition of the central role played by independent civil society groups and by governments in achieving social justice.