A Creative Reflective Essay Relating My Understanding of an Article from the Cross-Cultural Journal of Psychology: TWO DECADES OF CHANGE IN CULTURAL VALUES AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN EIGHT EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC ISLAND NATIONS
(MICHAEL W. ALLEN, University of Sydney, Australia; SIK HUNG NG, City University of Hong Kong, China; KEN'ICHI lKEDA, University of Tolcyo, Japan; JAYUM A. JAWAN, Universiti Putra Malaysia; ANWARUL HASAN SUFI, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh; MARC WILSON, Victoria University, New Zealand; KUO-SHU YANG, Fo Guang College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Taiwan)
This article is the result of the authors’ desire to answer the question: ‘Do cultural values and cultural change accompany economic progress?’ and; they endeavoured to do so by duplicating Ng et al.’s (1982) cross-cultural survey in 2002 and comparing the variances the passing of 20 years may have wrought.
Additionally, they sought to determine whether a) cultural determinism drove economic development; b) economic determinism drove changes in cultural values or; c) whether a third school of thought being ‘a middle ground’ between cultural and economic determinism held the answer. Interest in the answer to this question from the 1980’s has been rekindled (partly) as a result of the rapid economic growth of the East Asian countries of Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore (Yeh & Lawrence 1995).
The authors refer to research by Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede & Bond, 1988 and Franke, Hofstede & Bond, 1991 who had presented statistical evidence contending to demonstrate the link between a nation’s culture and its economic growth. However, I am inclined to agree with Yeh & Lawrence (1995): the answer is far more complex and the influence of other important factors such as a stable political environment and market orientated economic policies cannot be ignored. Yeh & Lawrence (1995) also refer to a report by the World Bank (1991a), which attributed China’s rapid growth primarily to Deng’s market orientated reforms: not changes in the national culture of the Chinese people.
A further concern for me is the fact that in both the 1982 and the 2002 survey, the participants from each country, were limited to university students. In some of the developing countries used for the survey the percentage of the total population with sufficient literacy skills and financial support to obtain a tertiary education would be quite low. Therefore, I do not believe that the results of either survey provide a true overall representation of each nation’s population.
Education and literacy statistics compiled by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) provide an excellent example of the one of the inconsistencies such a limited sample size produces:
Bangladesh’s 2003 adult literacy rate (total population)
43.1% Hong Kong’s 2003 adult literacy rate (total population)
Bangladesh’s 2002 tertiary education enrollment rate (total population)
6.6% Hong Kong’s 2002 tertiary education enrollment rate (total population)
Source: UNESCO UIS Data | UNESCO Institute for Statistics
Had a true cross-sample of each nation’s population been used, I believe the results would have varied significantly from those stated. Therefore, I consider the findings drawn from these two surveys regarding the level of linkage between national culture, economic development and the impact of each on the other to be flawed.
No doubt undertaking such a large scale project was a costly endeavour and this is perhaps the reason for such inadequate sampling and from which I have drawn three main areas of concern regarding the validity of the findings.
Firstly, the sample size was restricted to 100 university students all studying psychology or a related field; only one university was included from each nation and, the average mean age of the students was 19.3 years: this could not possibly be a true...
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