The Declaration of Interdependence – an interview with Henry Mintzbeg

Henry Mintzberg is the John Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies (Strategy & Organization) and Faculty Director (International Masters for Health Leadership) at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he has been teaching since 1968. He has authored 20 books, including Bedtime Stories for ManagersManagers not MBAsSimply ManagingRebalancing Societyand Managing the Myths of Health Care, also 180 articles plus numerous commentaries and videos

What led you to this point – to develop the Declaration of Interdependence? 

I have been working on the theme of rebalancing society for some years now, constantly looking for a way to convey the message. We had a workshop some months ago, and an American colleague said we have to look at the American Declaration of Independence. When we did, we realized that we could paraphrase it.

Can you tell us what the Declaration says, and why it’s so critical at this point in history?

It opens by making the point that “Our world has reached the limits of growth driven by the pursuit of individual rights at the expense of shared responsibilities.”  In a sense, that answers both questions!

What is balance?  And how do we need to rebalance society?

By balance, I mean finding a dynamic equilibrium across public sector needs that have to be respected, private sector interests that have to be responsible, and plural sector, or community, concerns that have to be robust.

What can individuals do to make a difference?

I have a whole table about this on the website that lays out many answers to this question, ranging from confronting outrageous behaviours to creating Bcorps and building the social economy.

What should institutions be doing? 

The answer depends on the sector. Businesses have to contribute in a constructive way, governments have to do the work of protecting us from imbalance, and the plural sector associations have to help drive the changes in government and business.

If we don’t act now, what happens? 

The answer is on the news almost every day, from flooding and fires to the election of thugs by people who are angry.

What are you working on next? 

This! I will keep pushing until something happens.

Thanks so much for your work, Professor Mintzberg.

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INTERVIEW BY Christian Sarkar