Is it safe to say that the decline and fall of Malcolm Gladwell is well on its way, if not complete? It was announced today that Gladwell will be receiving paychecks from Bank of America to help them woo Small Business owners to use BofA for their banking needs. I never really saw or bought into all the hype around his books Tipping Point or Outliers. And is he really a big name in the Small Business community? It hasn’t been the best few years for Gladwell as his recent work has received few nice words:
Gladwell’s work has been widely criticized from the pages of New York Magazine (“The bigger criticism of Gladwell is not that he’s unoriginal but that he’s unserious”) to the New York Times (“Mr. Gladwell has conflated fraud with overvaluation.”) to the Columbia Journalism Review (“Of course Gladwell lacks rigor he’s a feature writer, not a brain scientist.) which also notes that he is rather well-remunerated through corporate speaking fees and beyond. Many of those criticisms note that his biggest works are more often than not distillations of other people’s research and ideas and that they tend to almost exclusively support a consumerist, elitist philosophy.
And BofA has had its recent share of PR disasters as well with its TARP bailouts, mass layoffs and $5 bank fee fiasco. Seems to me BofA needs a hell of a lot more than Malcolm Gladwell to get its ship in order, while I will be interested to see how a BofA paycheck will influence Gladwell’s perspective on future books and stories.