The Hardware and Software of Latin American Development

The larger question is, to what extent do cultural attitudes and beliefs shape the business environment in Latin America?. What, if any, is the link between culture and economic development?. I must note that many economists are unconvinced of a strong link between cultural values and economic development. To these economists, what matters is the “hardware” of policies conducive to economic growth and not the “software” of culture. On the other hand, the “software” proponents can also point to examples to substantiate the role of culture. In multicultural countries, under the same economic environment, we find that some ethnic groups do better than others. These perceptions need to be replaced by values that enhance productivity such as: capitalism is good, innovation is good, investment in capabilities and technology is good, employees are assets, etc. In other words, a change in economic culture is needed. “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, which determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

On Falling Walls

The rapid pace of change in Bolivia and Argentina on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. The Wall that was the symbol of oppression and denial of progress was brought down without firing a single bullet. Chile is a world apart from the rest of the continent as its government dealt with the most destructive and gang penetrated mobs with democratic means. Up to the last two weeks Bolivia’s government indulged in two mortal mistakes. First, the order to initiate the land clearing in the Amazonian rain forest triggered the worst fire to have been endured by the Amazonian. Second, under the inquisitive eye of smart phones an electoral fraud was perpetrated. Mr Morales executed the fraud plans so that there would not be any runoff. Today, he is presiding over a paralyzed country. Sunday, he resigned. In the end, the beginning of the fall of the totalitarian wall could be ongoing in Bolivia. In Argentina yet another wall is about to collapse. Mr Fernandez is attempting to revive the axis of evil. Argentina will thus represent yet another hole in the wall of tyranny.

El hardware y software del desarrollo latinoamericano

La gran pregunta es, ¿hasta que punto las actitudes culturales y creencias diseñan el entorno de negocios en América Latina? ¿Cuál es, si existe, el vínculo entre cultura y desarrollo económico? Debo señalar que muchos economistas no están convencidos de un fuerte vínculo entre valores culturales y desarrollo económico. Para esos economistas lo importante es el “hardware” de políticas conducentes al desarrollo económico y no el “software” cultural. Por otro lado, quienes defienden el “software” también señalan ejemplos que substancian el papel de la cultura. En países multiculturales, bajo el mismo entorno económico, encontramos que algunos grupos étnicos se desempeñan mejor que otros. Esas percepciones hay que reemplazarlas por valores que incrementen productividad, tales como: el capitalismo es bueno, la innovación es buena, invertir en capacidades y tecnología es bueno, etc. En otras palabras, se necesita un cambio de cultura económica. “La verdad fundamental conservadora es que la cultura, no la política, determina el éxito de una sociedad. La verdad fundamental liberal es que la política puede cambiar una cultura y salvarla de sí misma”.