What is “managerial paternalism?”

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert are the authors of this excellent book

From When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert …

Managerial paternalism is perhaps the hardest nut to crack. We middle-class North Americans love to see things get done as quickly as possible. Relative to many other cultures, including many low-income communities in North America, we are prone to take charge, particularly when it appears that nobody else is moving fast enough. As a result, we often plan, manage, and direct initiatives in low-income communities when people in those communities could do these things quite well already. The structure and pace might well be different if the low-income communities undertook the project themselves, but they could do a good job nonetheless.

The authors then go into the reasons for managerial paternalism, and the alternatives. If you want to know more, you should buy the book!

At Mission ONE, we do not try to run our partners’ ministries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. We do not tell outstanding indigenous Christian leaders how to manage their financial administration, how to delegate responsibility, how to do accountability in their culture, how to pursue their vision. We do ask, “How can we serve your vision?” We do require quarterly reports covering ministry progress, stories, prayer requests and financial disbursements. We do trust one another, not only as organizational partners, but as friends who serve the Lord together for God’s glory.

With these kinds of relationships between Mission ONE and our ministry partners in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, we avoid managerial paternalism. Want to know more about Mission ONE’s ministry partners? Write to me at werner@mission1.org.


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