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Is knowledge enough? December 6, 2009

Posted by Ignacio Larrain in As The Future Catches You.
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The world is changing. And it is changing faster every day. The author shows data on how the differences between developed countries and third world countries is increasing instead of narrowing, and he defines information or the so called knowledge economy as the golden key for poorer countries in order to at least have the chance to get out of their actual reality.

As a first reaction I tend to agree with his point of view. Information is crucial. And there have been interesting experiences from countries like Singapore that have been able to climb the stairs from poverty to become a successful economy. But I believe that even though knowledge is necessary it is also not sufficient. As human beings we have some basic needs we will pursue to fill in first place and after we have done so we can start thinking a little bit ahead. In many third world countries we see hunger, deceases, violence and lack of democratic rights that have to be solved in first place. I had the chance to study the differences between public and private schools in Chile, a country that has been developing very much for the past thirty years. And one of the key findings was that even though the materials taught and the resources used to teach students could be equaled, when a little boy does not have breakfast in the morning or if he gets involved every day in home violence then even though he attends the best school in the country he will not be able to perform as he should. Even though we are trying to educate all our children the difference is still increasing. And this happens in a country that has been in the developing countries’ group for years and far away from those relegated third world countries.

An this is why I believe it is not just a matter of leadership within each country to change those places’ destinies, but it is a matter of world leadership in order to see the world as a whole and to realize that we need to embrace one another’s needs as if they were our own. We need courageous, ethical and socially responsible leaders that want to build a better world for all. And as future world leaders we are called to make a decision: will we work to create that better world or not. If we choose the first alternative it is going to be a great challenge. I just hope most of us get to choose to face this challenge, and to do it with great passion.  But we need not to loose sight of how to approach this challenge. If we want to really have an impact then we do not have to focus only on saving some proceeds for charity but to be thoughtful of those key decisions that can affect someone’s life in the long run. And we as leaders will face those types of decisions many times in our lives, for example, when we have the chance to create new jobs and deliver fair wages in cheap labor countries. It is our responsibility as Haas students to pursue a better world, and to make it with fairness and within clear ethical boundaries.

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