Score one for Henry Mintzberg, the well-known management scholar and professor at McGill University. In an essay that has been posted on his website since 2007 but that now seems eerily prescient, Mintzberg predicted that 2008 would see a substantial downturn in the U.S. economy. In his essay, Mintzberg wrote from the perspective of someone looking back at 2008: ”The American trade imbalance had been disastrous for years; the Bush administration was piling up massive budget deficits; Americans were not saving — indeed many were re-mortgaging their homes to maintain spending — while investors from abroad, particularly the government of China, were being relied upon to cover the shortfalls. It couldn’t last, the economists agreed in retrospect, and in 2008 the tipping point was reached.”
Let’s hope Mintzberg’s not also right about the aftermath of the crisis: In his commentary, he writes as someone in the future looking back – at “the great depression that began in 2008.” He attributes the U.S. economic problems to poor business leadership, with an excessive focus on stock prices, short-term profits and individual executive leadership. Mintzberg, who is the author of the book Managers Not MBAs, has written a number of articles for MIT Sloan Management Review, including Beyond Selfishness (2002) and The Education of Practicing Managers (2004).