Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress by Samuel P. Huntington, Lawrence E. Harrison

By Samuel P. Huntington, Lawrence E. Harrison

Admired students and newshounds contemplate the query of why, in the beginning of the twenty-first century, the area is extra divided than ever among the wealthy and the bad, among these residing in freedom and people below oppression.

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Ironically, in today’s global economy it is the local things that are increasingly important and decisive in determining why a particular firm is more competitive and productive than one based elsewhere. This is because rapid flows of trade, capital, and information nullify the advantages that a firm gets from inputs sourced from elsewhere. If a firm in one country buys its machines from Germany, so can its competitor. If a firm sources capitalfrom abroad, so can its competitor. If a firm buys raw materials fromAustralia, so can its competitor.

In early-stage development, firms compete primarily on cheap labor and natural resources. The fundamental challenge is to escape from that situation. To move beyond poverty, a nation must upgrade its inputs, institutions, and skills to allow more sophisticated forms of competition, resulting in increased productivity. This requires such things as upgrading human capital, improving infrastructure, opening to trade and foreign investment, protecting intellectual property, raising regulatory standards to pressure improvements in product quality and environmental impact, and expanding regional integration.

A further issue that arose during the wrap-up session was the extent to which there are cultural universals-values that work, or don’t work, in whatever geographic, political, or ethnic setting. Several of the participants argued against a “black box” or “laundry list” approach to cultural change, xxxii Introduction preferring what might be termed an “ethnographic approach”-one that looks at individual cultures withlimited reference to experience elsewhere. I believe that there are value patterns that cross geographic boundaries with comparable consequences in very different settings.

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