The Trains to Hope

by Henry Mintzberg and Wolfgang Müller

HM:  I have been writing in these TWOGs about the role of the plural sector in rebalancing society: first to recognize that it must take its place alongside the sectors called public and private (hence calling it “plural”, rather than civil society), and second to realize that the restoration of such balance will depend especially on this sector. The private sector is too powerful these days and the public sector overwhelmed by that power.

Some people don’t get the idea of the plural sector, perhaps because it has been so marginalized by the great debates over left versus right—private sector markets versus public sector governments. Where to put the plural sector, comprising all these community-based and other associations that are neither public nor private? NGOs, clubs, churches, unions, mass movements, social initiatives, and so on? Wolfgang Műller, Chief of Operations of the City of Vienna, who had read my book about Rebalancing Society, got the idea—in principle. Then he experienced it in action.

I met Wolfgang last Wednesday when he organized a workshop I did with his colleagues at the City of Vienna, before I attended the Global Drucker Forum in that city. He recounted a story about how this understanding in principle suddenly became an understanding in practice. I asked him to write his story down.

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