Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Tyler Cowen

One of America’s Most Valuable Exports: Business Consultants

The spread of managerial expertise in the last several decades has made the world a better place.

The strategic plan is in the briefcase.

The strategic plan is in the briefcase.

Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The latest institution to take a big whack from the media, with its well-known negative bias, is McKinsey & Co. A recent article in The New York Times shows how much the consulting company has worked for authoritarian and autocratic countries, including China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

I would instead frame this story in a broader and far more positive reality: One of the biggest, most positive (and most neglected) global trends over the last 30 years has been the spread of managerial and technocratic expertise to what used to be called “third world governments.” In most countries, the central banks, the public health authorities, the treasuries and many other public-sector institutions now collect good data, hire Western-educated advisers, and try to implement good solutions. This is true in both the democracies and most of the autocracies, with North Korea a notable exception.