Expatriates from the West & Asia
As used here, the term, “expatriates” refers to people from the West and the developed countries of Asia who work in the PUCs (persistently underdeveloped countries) as transients or who live there permanently. Expatriates include temporary workers, permanent workers, or groups of such people who have lived in the underdeveloped countries for generations and are citizens with political power. These expatriates embody the managerial and entrepreneurial skills that higher education claims to impart to all graduates but does not.
Expatriate Management dependence
There is no secret or mystery about the desired outcome for university graduates in the PUCs. The outcome is for graduates to do what expatriates have been doing in these countries for generations but in much larger numbers, thereby making development happen. Expatriates have been providing much of the managerial and entrepreneurial supervision needed to build and maintain existing facilities and operations. And they have usually done so with the effectiveness found in the developed countries.
What expatriates do is more than display technical skills, however. The PUCs already have plenty of graduates and others with the technical skills needed for development. What these countries lack are the managerial and entrepreneurial skills or competence that expatriates demonstrate. This deficit is the reason why expatriates have always exploited the economic opportunities that are beyond the reach of locals.
Despite all the “causes” that allegedly prevent development from happening, expatriate-led operations have always thrived. They have consistently maintained the highest efficiency and productivity standards. They supervise locally available technical talent to do things in the economy that are not possible without expatriates.
Other than violence, the commonly cited “causes” of underdevelopment do not seem to affect the performance of expatriates. The “causes” affect only non-expatriates.
Hence, the example set by expatriate supervision does not spread to the rest of the economy. It doesn’t seem to matter how long expatriate operations have been around. The performance standards that they set remain out of bounds for much of the rest of the economy.
But the PUCs can’t simply employ all the expatriates they need. Few PUCs can financially afford the number of expatriates they need to make development happen. Fewer PUCs can probably tolerate the level of expatriate domination that is required to make development happen and to maintain it.
The PUCs are therefore trapped in the mediocre or anemic operation of the economic model that was imposed by colonialism. They cannot achieve the standards of the developed countries, no matter how much they may try. They cannot make the various creative innovation, invention, and improvement to science, technology, and institutional and social development that fuel continuous productivity and economic growth in the developed countries.
This permanent inability to make development happen is the source of symptoms that are wrongly cited as the causes of underdevelopment. This inability is at the center of the pain of underdevelopment.
Economic Diversification and Privatization
When inefficient government operations in a PUC are privatized and subsequently begin to operate efficiently, it’s usually because management is taken over by expatriates, regardless of whether the new owners are indigenous or foreigners. Similar conditions should be deduced whenever western-style infrastructure and production facilities perform close to the efficiency of the developed countries in a PUC. Publicly or behind the scenes, such facilities are usually managed by expatriates. The oil industry is a prominent example.
The managerial effectiveness needed to operate the numerous aspects of the oil business cannot be confined to only one industry or to a few industries without spreading to others. But it has failed to spread in PUCs because there are not enough expatriates to do the spreading. University graduates have largely been bystanders. The dependence of these countries on oil and other minerals is a measure of the shortage of managerial and entrepreneurial competence (resonance) that is needed to diversify the economy.
The shortage of indigenous managerial talent also ensures that economic diversification will remain a goal that will not be fulfilled.
This is why globalization offers a false promise of development for the PUCs. For a persistently underdeveloped country, globalization is just another name for modernization without development. Dependence on expatriate supervision or the shortage of indigenous managerial and entrepreneurial talent ensures that globalization will benefit only a relative few. Its benefits will not propagate as it did in China, and its endurance and sustainability will depend mostly on the continuous and tenuous supervision of expatriates.
The standards of the expatriates generally cannot be maintained or propagated without expatriates, who are in short supply. When imitation is attempted, it is often not in equal strength or vigor and frequently does not endure. Efforts by indigenes to imitate expatriate standards in the economy of a PUC are more likely to fail, or fall far short of the standards and remain below the standards. If not, development would have happened by now.
Moreover, no matter the extent of globalization in a PUC, the incurable symptoms of underdevelopment persist.
Expatriates versus Higher Education
The performance of expatriates in a persistently underdeveloped country (PUC) embodies all the characteristics of the Crusoe Effect. Expatriates effectively put available knowledge and resources to use. They contingently adapt and improvise to solve problems. Their presence tends to have an immediate and measurable economic impact. Expatriates demonstrate that there is no “gradual” in real development.
University education implicitly promises to equalize the performance of graduates from the PUCs with the performance of expatriates so that development can happen. This promise is presumably the most important justification for public investment in higher education in a PUC. The expectation that university education has met this promise is regularly expressed in graduation speeches, and is an indispensable ingredient of development planning.
If the thousands of existing university graduates in the PUCs have been as effective as expatriate agents, underdevelopment will not exist today. That has not been the case, however, and many PUCs now have armies of university graduates who can’t make development happen.
University graduates in the PUCs simply do not perform like expatriates. As discussed elsewhere on this site, “better quality” education, by any existing definition, does not make up for this deficit. It is not because something is wrong with people, however. Instead, something is wrong with the education. University education or any other education have proven largely useless for training people from the underdeveloped countries to perform like expatriates. Until a way is found to systematically train people to perform with the effectiveness of expatriate managers, underdevelopment will persist.
We propose a way to address and solve this problem. We propose a new higher education curriculum that fulfills the empty promises of the liberal curriculum. The graduates of our new higher education curriculum will have an immediate and measurable impact on development wherever they’re deployed.
Questions on “Sustainable” Development
It must be noted that we’re not advocating the replacement of expatriates. A truly developing country will add capacity at a rate that will quickly consume available managerial and entrepreneurial talent, expatriates included. The goal of development is to expand the economic pie to the size of the developed countries. The goal is not to replace expatriates. Our goal is to have a lot more people do what expatriates do, in more areas of the economy, at increasing rates. We’re advocating a lasting measure, not gimmicks.
Since the 1970s, different PUCs have found out the hard way that expatriate managerial leadership is indispensable, after forcibly replacing such leadership with locals under “indigenization” or nationalization laws. While such measures may be politically justified, replacing expatriate leadership with indigenes, no matter how educated they are, often results in the immediate or eventual run-down of the operation to a shadow of its former self.
Yes there have been numerous exceptions, whereby locals have been effective. But the meaning of persistent underdevelopment is that there are never enough exceptions to make development happen for the whole economy.