In one book, which I found very insightful – Culture and Prosperity by John Kay – Kay argued based on economic and historical data dating to last 300 years on how there was correlation between different cultural aspects and prosperity. One of his findings was that Christian nations are more prosperous. But out of the Christian denominations, Protestants are better off. He did not go into the religious differences etc, but he drew a correlation. To me that was significant! However, my argument went – prosperity could not be just related to ONE religious denomination… it should be based on TRAITS and ATTITUDES as opoosed to what God you followed! Now, the reason Protestant faith trumps all other religions and denominations is because of its insistence on Ethics and Hard Work. In a way, it was a reaction to the Dark Ages. This is very important. But then my argument was India and China had been the GREATEST economies in the history of MANKIND for almost 4-5000 years!! So, what are the lessons and best practices that one can gain out of that. It is important to learn the “traits” that are important for long term success!
Most analysis that one does NOW is blinkered and VERY micro in nature. Drawing lessons from LONG TERM patterns is a better indicator. Prosperity does not happen in a day. It does not vanish in a day either. First the temper gets hurt, then the military balance and then the trade. That is when the hurt to economics is tangible. IT can take anywhere from 200 to 500 years for this cycle to complete.
The business people are in the business of creating successful organizations and societies. At the very least, we should know what we want to create?? ROI, ROE, profits, GDP are the RESULTS not the cause! Poverty occurs due to redistribution of wealth in the world and the lack of capability to create a bigger pie for your people. How wealth can be created through interdependence should be learnt from the West post WWII. It is possibly the first time in history that INTERDEPENDENCE was used as a poverty alleviation mechanism!! That the underlying religious and ideological belief was similar – Protestant – and geared to positive economic results.. helped!