Atul Gawande, a surgeon, public health researcher at Harvard and author of The Checklist Manifesto, has been exploring why some innovations spread fast and others don’t. The author takes an in-depth look at BRAC and its usage of oral rehydration solution to combat childhood deaths from diarrhea in the 1980s.
This post originally appeared on the HBR Blog Network as part of a special collection on Scaling Social Impact.
Forty years ago, British economist E.F. Schumacher, one of the fathers of the Green movement, declared that "small is beautiful" and called for "a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful." The retort from mainstream economists was swift and scathing: "Small is stupid." Without economies of scale, they argued, developing societies would never develop the efficiencies needed to modernize.