TRIBES by Joel Kotkin


How Race, Religion, and Family Determine Success in the New Global Economy
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 While the world is shrinking in many ways, globally dispersed ethnic groups--according to this provocative account by Kotkin (West Coast editor of Inc.; coauthor, The Third Century, 1988, etc.)--are playing pivotal roles in shaping its economic future. Kotkin argues persuasively that the collapse of communism could diminish the importance of nation-states and accelerate the renaissance of interest in geographic as well as racial roots. In the meantime, he surveys five ubiquitous peoples--the British, Chinese, Indians, Japanese, and Jews--who have made substantive commercial/cultural marks beyond their homelands. Although these transnational tribes have vastly different pasts, Kotkin contends that they share certain adaptive attributes, including open- mindedness, a passion for technical knowledge, bedrock behavioral values, and a sense of mutual dependence that helps them adjust to sociopolitical or economic change without significant loss of unity. Drawing largely on historical narratives and statistical data, Kotkin documents how the English built a great empire by putting profit ahead of grandeur, while enterprising Indians, unable to flourish on a caste-ridden subcontinent, prospered elsewhere in apparel, diamonds, entertainment, finance, and other niche markets where Jews still rank among the more conspicuous successes. He goes on to note that Japan's salarymen (the first Asians to embrace Western technology) retain close ties to home when working abroad. By contrast, the author points out, the far- flung network of overseas Chinese has no fixed point of national origin. Toward the close, Kotkin assesses which other ``tribes'' may gain business influence and power. Among the possibilities are America's Mormons, Armenians, Egyptians, Koreans, Lebanese, and Palestinians--all of whom, the author concludes, could oblige the world to discard outdated notions of melting-pot homogeneity in favor of a modus vivendi that amounts to peaceful coexistence. A challenging analysis of how the world really works.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41282-4
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1992


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