The Industrial Rise of East Asia


In 1987, the Academy initiated a study of what was referred to as “the economic miracle” of the rise of industrial East Asia. The focus of the study was to better understand the role in industrialization of Confucianism, which was long thought to be incompatible with the spirit of capitalism. More specifically, the project looked at the role of culture, including moral education, political authority, and social solidarity, as an integral part of economic dynamics. The study sponsored a cross-cultural workshop and an interdisciplinary conference. Conclusions included the thesis that Confucianism may actually have helped industrial East Asia develop a different form of modern industrial capitalism, one that may turn out to be more consequential for the twenty-first century than the classical model. Resulting publications include a transcript of workshop discussions and an edited collection of conference papers. The underlying assumption of these scholarly and investigative efforts continues to be that “culture matters” in economic development.