"I was having a discussion with Tom Boardman [Nedbank CEO] the other day. He said that earlier that day, he'd met with all 450 of his branch managers. There were people from across the country, a diverse bunch of people with different capabilities, competencies and approaches. But he could fit all these people into one hall and have a discussion on their concerns.
"He told me this story as he empathised with the minister of education who has 27 000 branch managers. We have 27 000 school principals in our country. We simply cannot get them all into a single hall or venue and structure a discussion in a sensible fashion.
"The transaction costs of engineering such a discussion would be enormous, even with modern IT and communications systems. And so we organise our schools into districts, regions and provinces. Information and perspectives are lost along the chain," explained Manuel.
Manuel said that in modern complex societies, globalising economies, diverse communities, wildly differing bargaining strengths and imperfect markets, the role of government became incredibly complex and difficult.
"In taking decisions on even simple matters, the stakeholders, interests and factors that have to be taken into account require the Wisdom of Solomon. And I will be the first to admit that we do not always get this right," he said.
He concluded that in managing various kinds of public-private partnerships, and more generally in modernising the public service delivery, it was necessary to guard against unnecessary complexity.
full story from M&G here