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The Big Con


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About the Author

Mariana Mazzucato (Author)
Mariana Mazzucato is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London, where she is Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose. Her previous posts include the RM Phillips Professorial Chair at the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University.

She is the winner of international prizes including the Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 2021, Italy's highest civilian honour, the 2020 John von Neumann Award, the 2019 All European Academies Madame de Stael Prize for Cultural Values, and the 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. Most recently, Pope Francis appointed her to the Pontifical Academy for Life for bringing 'more humanity' to the world.

As well as The Entrepreneurial State, she is the author of The Value of Everything- Making and Taking in the Global Economy (2018), Mission Economy- A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism (2021), and The Big Con- How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Businesses, Infantilizes our Governments and Warps our Economies (2023).

She advises policy makers around the world on innovation-led, inclusive and sustainable growth. Her current roles have included for example Chair of the World Health Organization's Council on the Economics of Health for All, Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, Co-Chair of the Council on Urban Initiatives, and member of the South African President's Economic Advisory Council. Previously, through her role as Special Advisor for the EC Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation (2017-2019), she authored the high-impact report on Mission-Oriented Research and Innovation in the European Union, turning 'missions' into a crucial new instrument in the European Commission's Horizon innovation programme, and more recently, authored a report with the UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on Transformational Change in Latin America and the Caribbean- A mission-oriented approach.

Rosie Collington (Author)
Rosie Collington is a PhD candidate at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, where she researches the political economy of outsourcing. She has written on consulting and other subjects for publications including the Guardian, OpenDemocracy and the Independent.


a forceful demolition job on the industry

timely ... the analysis is startling
*Sunday Times*

Collington and Mazzucato have provided a meticulously researched anatomy of an industry not widely understood by those outside it. They have explained complex ideas and processes in clear terms, and brought them to life with a rich and engaging narrative style. They have eschewed a simple narrow moral attack on a few parasitic firms in favor of a clear-eyed view of the industry's origins and drivers, and they have outlined the stakes for the future in no uncertain terms. That last is the most important. The Big Con may present itself as an exposé of the consulting industry, but behind it lies a bigger and more urgent warning to reshape social priorities in an age of crisis.

A shocking indictment of how, for decades, the consulting industry has made billions from public and private sources without providing much value for money. But it's an equally damning verdict on those institutions that have handed over these fortunes
*Irish Independent*

Their point is that the great problem with the consulting business isn't so much one of corruption, but something else: consultants have wielded their expertise to give the impression of being indispensable. ... The book is intended in part as a rallying call for these companies and governments
*The Times*

compelling ... Mazzucato and Collington examine how this astonishing global rise in consultancy services came about. The clue is in the book's name-the big con ... the confidence trick arises from the ability to create an impression of value. ... Mazzucato and Collington are ready with what needs to be done: a new vision for the civil service; invest in internal government capacity and capability creation; embed learning and evaluation into contracts; and mandate transparency and exposure of conflicting interest.
*The Lancet*

As the title of this book implies, consulting is, at least in part, a confidence trick. A consultant's job is to convince anxious customers that they have the answers, whether or not that's true.

powerful ... The authors provide countless convincing examples of the danger of public overreliance on the consulting industry ... The Big Con puts forward a forceful argument about an issue about which most ordinary people know little but - given the enormous influence of the consulting industry - have a right to understand and scrutinise. An effective, important and highly readable book.
*E&T Magazine*

The Big Con of the book's title is not a crime; it's a confidence trick. Consultancies and outsourcers, Mazzucato argues, know less than they claim, cost more than they seem to, and - over the long term - prevent the public sector developing in-house capabilities
*Financial Times*

We are effectively devolving decision-making to people who are doubly unelected in many cases and whose own interests may diverge fairly dramatically from the collective interest or the interest that government is supposed to be pursuing.
*The Spectator*

Any government looking to rediscover its "vision, purpose and narrative" already knows who to call
*American Prospect*

The consultants may have different names ...and might perform different economic functions...but the effect they have on their client organisations is the same: to entrench short-term thinking, to deplete them of knowledge and skills, and, ultimately, to enfeeble them.
*New Statesman*

The power of government is crucial for driving the economy forward. But only if it retains capacity. Mazzucato and Collington have written a brilliant book that exposes the dangerous consequences of outsourcing state capacity to the consulting industry-and how to build it back. A fascinating look at the biggest players in the game and why this matters for all of us.
*Stephanie Kelton, author of THE DEFICIT MYTH*

A powerful indictment of a dubious industry. This book should be read around the globe, and kickstart a debate that's long overdue: Do we really need all those consultants?
*Rutger Bregman, author of UTOPIA FOR REALISTS and HUMANKIND*

The Big Con documents, in precise detail and with panoramic vision, all the ways that the consulting industry has insinuated itself into the systems that govern and control our lives. Private companies, public charities and trusts, states, and even the international order have all handed mission-critical functions over to management consultants. Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington document the harms that result, as consultants exploit the public while stripping their clients of expertise and even the capacity to learn. This bill of particulars serves a profound master purpose: to demonstrate that we cannot outsource governance over our lives and still hope to remain prosperous, democratic, and free.
*Daniel Markovits, author of THE MERITOCRACY TRAP*

A management consultant,' the quip runs, 'is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time-and then keeps the watch.' This is the very least of the confidence tricks perpetrated by the global consulting industry it turns out. Another common saying is that 'nobody ever got fired for hiring McKinsey.' With the publication of The Big Con, they just might.
*Brett Christophers, author of RENTIER CAPITALISM*

Doggedly researched and elegantly written, this is a fascinating entry point into a critical yet underreported issue
*Publishers Weekly*

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