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Tribes: How Race, Religion and Identity Determine Success in the New Global Economy Paperback – April 5, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kotkin relates tribal values to economic prosperity in this analysis of ethnicity and the global economy.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Francis Fukuyama, move over. The theory of individualism as the prime motivator in a new world system is being challenged. Kotkin, an economic reporter and coauthor of The Third Century (Crown, 1988) here offers a different paradigm for the future of the global economy, asserting that ethnic solidarity has been and will continue to be an important force in world business. Kotkin focuses on five groups: Jewish, British, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian. In trying to explain the material success of these particular "tribes," he emphasizes historical patterns common to them all: a strong ethnic identity that allows the group to undergo economic and political changes without loss of essential unity; a global network based on mutual trust and communal self-help; and an open-minded approach to the adoption of scientific and technological innovations. On this basis, he argues that potentially powerful economic groups of the future may include Palestinians and Armenians. Ethnic stereotyping is dangerous territory, and Kotkin jumps headlong into the controversial minefield. Highly recommended for all libraries. See also Lawrence Harrison's Who Prospers? How Cultural Values Shape Economic and Political Success , LJ 7/92.--Ed.
- Ruth M. Mara, U.S. Information Agency, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (April 5, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679752994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679752998
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #985,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joel Kotkin is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California, and the Executive Editor of the widely read website NewGeography.com. He is the author, most recently, of The New Class Conflict, as well as The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, The City: A Global History, and The New Geography: How the Digital Revolution Is Reshaping the American Landscape. An internationally recognized authority on global economic, political, social, and technological trends, Kotkin is a regular contributor to The Daily Beast and Forbes.com, and he writes a weekly column for the Orange County Reigster, where he serves on the editorial board. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, City Journal, Politico, the New York Daily News, and Newsweek.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By "mihirpshah" on December 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a great book that has a keen and insightful look into how certain cultures and ethnic groups rise to prominence in a global economy. The author focuses on five "Tribes": the Jews, the British, the Japanese, the Chinese, and the Indians. Kotkin is always fair, objective, and intelligent when it comes to explaining how and why these groups have developed the "cultural capital" to attain disproportionate economic success.
Kotkin lays out his work in an excellent chronological manner, which strongly demonstrates the dynamic nature on how these groups rose economically over the course of history and time. He also notes differences between the groups and some problems within them, such as pointing out the more centralized and "engineered" rise of the Japanese "Tribe", or the decline of the British work ethic.
Kotkin then neatly follows these 5 groups with a discussion on what he perceives as "future Tribes" rising in economic success and wealth, such as Mormons and Palestinians (who are by far the most educated, entrepreneurial, and enterprising people in the Arab world; just look at the pre-1991 Kuwaiti economy). This dynamist and forward-looking perspective cements Kotkins narrative being very progressive and non-prejudiced.
Although, as mentioned, Kotkin is extremely fair and objective, it is important to point out that he does come from a certain perspective, namely a kind of neoliberal and neolibertarian outlook that places a strong emphasis on cultural dynamism (i.e., cultures as organic and evolving, rather than having determined, static boundaries). I happen to greatly agree with this perspective, which is probably why I personally like the book so much.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By D. Millar on May 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
"Tribes", by Joel Kotkin (1992 Random House) This book is necessary reading for anyone interested in learning in depth about the increasingly multicultural aspects of modern business, leadership and education. Kotkin shares a thorough and thoroughly researched understanding of the origins and growth of "Global Tribes". He discusses the history and economic impact of the diaspora cultures of the Jews, Japanese, Chinese, Indian and British.
Where many futurist authors talk about a "Post-Modern era", Kotkin frames the future as "Post Cold-War". He states that increasingly ethnic identities will determine the primary sphere of social and economic identity, and not current political identities. In the Epilogue he talks about Cosmopolis, a world dominated by cosmopolitan centers with multiethnic identities, rather than a world dominated by political identities. He ties this idea of the economic power and multicultural complexity of future cosmopolitan cities to the rise and eventual domination of great cosmopolitan cities of the past such as Alexandria, Canton, London, Rome, and others. While this is his conclusion, the bulk of the book is a very cosmopolitan discussion of the economic and social impact of the growth of five Global Tribes, and the changes that have, and will, come with them. Each culture has in common that they are largely disconnected from the culture they find themselves in, have a strong ethnic identity "a vocation of uniqueness", a strong work ethic, and a theology that allows them to work pragmatically in the business community. Of particular interest was his discussion about the rise, near decline, and limitations of the Japanese "diaspora by design".
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Le Q on March 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book for those who have always wondered why there are Chinese restaurants all over the world and the presence of synagogues in even the most odd of places. Describes the relationships of cultural groups such as the Chinese, Jews, Indians, Arabs, etc. across the globe and how they work together and rely on one another even though they are spread all over the planet.
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