Social Context Reflection

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What do we really want? A manifesto for the organizations of the 21st Century

The MIT 21st Century Manifesto Working Group* Sloan School of Management Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT Initiative on Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century Discussion Paper

November 1999

*

The MIT 21st Century Manifesto Working Group includes the following MIT faculty members: Deborah Ancona, Lotte Bailyn, Erik Brynjolfsson, John Carroll, Tom Kochan, Don Lessard, Thomas Malone (chair), Wanda Orlikowski, Jack Rockart, Michael Scott Morton, Peter Senge, John Sterman, and JoAnne Yates.

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What do we really want? A manifesto for the organizations of the 21st Century

In many ways, today’ organizations are working very well. But few institutions s anywhere -- be they educational, governmental, community, or business institutions -- are serving societies' and invididuals’ needs as well as they could. In particular, business institutions, while arguably the healthiest of society's institutions, are operating far short of their potential to contribute broadly to societal well being. Today’ firms are more technically capable and more economically efficient than ever s before, and free market efficiencies are being realized in more and more countries around the world. In many cases, however, these highly efficient organizations are not achieving what we humans really want. The current organization of economic activity is intensifying economic inequity. It is eroding critical environmental systems. And it is generating unsustainable stresses on people, even those "succeeding" in the system. We believe that it is even growing increasingly dysfunctional from the vantage point of traditional economic effectiveness in a world where competitive advantage depends on generating and sharing knowledge and managing increasingly complex interdependencies and change.…...

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