Measuring Development. What is Ignored and Denied

measuring development
Measuring Development

Modernization is Not a Measure of Development

We’ve defined development as the rise of a nation to meet the developed countries as an economic equal, based on the managerial and entrepreneurial competence of its own indigenous people. The conventional measures or benchmarks of development usually exclude the consideration of managerial competence or assume that it is already present. These benchmarks include GDP, per-capita income, poverty rates, urbanization rate, infrastructure, the rate of technology adoption, etc. Hence, we don’t consider these benchmarks to be accurate measures of development. They only indicate the rate of superficial modernization and don’t account for the most important aspects of economic development and its managerial sustainability in a PUC.

Sure, a truly developing or developed country will score high by the standards of modernization. But so will an oil-rich country that is nevertheless persistently underdeveloped or a PUC that is stuck in the middle-income trap. We believe that any measurement of development that is neutral to the managerial criteria or ignores it is instead measuring modernization only.

The Solution-oriented Measurement of Economic Development

For a persistently underdeveloped country, the managerial and entrepreneurial leadership of expatriates from the developed countries is indispensable. Such leadership is constantly required for maintaining the minimum standards of the large-scale western-style facilities and operations in the economy. It’s also required to meaningfully grow the economy. Oil production, the mining of minerals, large-scale farming, telecommunications, electricity, infrastructure. To an indispensable extent, these and other areas of the economy in the public or private sector require expatriate managerial and entrepreneurial leadership for their continuous efficient operation. These areas of the economy will deteriorate or collapse without expatriates.

Therefore, the proper measure of development is the extent to which natives match or compete with the managerial and entrepreneurial effectiveness of expatriates from the developed countries who operate in their midst. It is how much natives with higher education get to display the Crusoe Effect in the maintenance and growth of the Western-style enterprises, facilities, and institutions in their country.

Economic growth, whereby locals do not match the managerial and entrepreneurial performance of expatriates at a fast and increasing rate, is not development. It is shallow modernization. This type of development will neither deepen or spread, or will do so tenuously. Without the continuous and increasing leadership of scarce expatriate agents, such growth will not endure.

So, it is premature to engage in the measurement of development in a PUC. Development is barely taking place to a measurable extent and there is little to measure. Measurable data will come through the contribution of native people who compete with the managerial effectiveness of expatriates.

Education for Development

The way to provide measurable data is to train people who will perform as well as expatriates. The purpose of education for development must be to equalize the performance of graduates with the performance of expatriates. Education as we know it does not do that. Education as we know it does not know how to do that. As a result, and generally for the entire economy, the managerial performance of expatriates is usually not matched or equaled in a persistently underdeveloped country. If that were not the case, development would have happened by now.

But the speeches made at graduation ceremonies tell us that higher education is fine the way it is and that the university has successfully provided the required training to graduates. This belief is clearly wrong. Yet it is widely accepted at face value and hasn’t ever been seriously challenged by the PUCs or their advocates. 

Elephant in the Room for the Measurement of Development

The elephant in the room for the measurement of development is the same elephant in the university graduation ceremony room. It is the unspoken belief that something is wrong with the people that education is not working for. After all, the thinking continues, the same education works for the developed countries. We reject this view, of course. We show instead that nothing is wrong with people and that higher education cannot accomplish in the PUCs what it’s credited for doing in the developed countries.

The seemingly irredeemable inability of the PUCs to manage their economies as well as the developed countries is a taboo topic that has no place in the conventional measures of development. So the obvious severe shortage of the skills required to make development happen is disregarded. Also disregarded is the well-proven inability of higher education to deliver those skills.

The university may successfully impart technical training. But technical training is obviously not enough to make development happen. Under the existing curricula of higher education, education for development is a misnomer. What has actually been taking place is education for modernization.


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