Chapter 17: Cultural Considerations of Business and Economic Development in East Asia
F. Gerard Adams and Heidi Vernon This chapter is concerned with the conﬂicting views about the role of culture in fostering the rapid economic development of East Asia. Some scholars have maintained that ‘culture makes almost all the diﬀerence’.1 Most of this work focuses on the inﬂuence of a stable and, perhaps, unique ‘East Asian’ cultural pattern, though some scholars emphasize the evolution of culture in an increasingly integrated world economy. Others have explained East Asian growth largely in non-cultural terms, on the basis of comparative advantage and trade, foreign direct investment ﬂows, and economic development policy (see chapters in Part III of this volume). Still others have tried to combine cultural and economic considerations, for example seeing cultural factors as important ingredients in the absence of formal systems and legal remedies early in the development process, and as potential sources of diﬃculties as economic development matures or as it becomes more globalized. In the next section, we review the relevant aspects of the history of economic development in East Asia and its current momentum. We then examine and synthesize the principal strands of literature, comparing cultural and economic development approaches to Asian business success. A synthesis of these views is highlighted. In the ﬁnal section, we consider some survey studies, and relate the diverse views about the role of culture to East Asian managers’ cultural perceptions and business practice. A brief concluding section evaluates the evidence and points to unanswered questions, emphasizing the informational gap...
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