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Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity [Paperback]

Francis Fukuyama
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 18, 1996
In his bestselling The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama argued that the end of the Cold War would also mean the beginning of a struggle for position in the rapidly emerging order of 21st-century capitalism. In Trust, a penetrating assessment of the emerging global economic order "after History," he explains the social principles of economic life and tells us what we need to know to win the coming struggle for world dominance.
Challenging orthodoxies of both the left and right, Fukuyama examines a wide range of national cultures in order to divine the underlying principles that foster social and economic prosperity. Insisting that we cannot divorce economic life from cultural life, he contends that in an era when social capital may be as important as physical capital, only those societies with a high degree of social trust will be able to create the flexible, large-scale business organizations that are needed to compete in the new global economy.
A brilliant study of the interconnectedness of economic life with cultural life, Trust is also an essential antidote to the increasing drift of American culture into extreme forms of individualism, which, if unchecked, will have dire consequences for the nation's economic health.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fukuyama argues that a nation's economic strength is tied to its social unity, and that America is in danger of losing both.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Fukuyama (The End of History and the Last Man, LJ 1/92) examines the impact of culture on economic life, society, and success in the new global economy. He argues that the most pervasive cultural characteristic influencing a nation's prosperity and ability to compete is the level of trust or cooperative behavior based upon shared norms. In comparison with low-trust societies (China, France, Italy, Korea), which need to negotiate and often litigate rules and regulations, high-trust societies like those in Germany and Japan are able to develop innovative organizations and hold down the cost of doing business. Fukuyama argues that the United States, like Japan and Germany, has been a high-trust society historically but that this status has eroded in recent years. This well-researched book provides a fresh, new perspective on how economic prosperity is grounded in social life. Highly recommended for academic libraries.
Jane M. Kathman, Coll. of St. Benedict Lib., St. Joseph, Minn.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1st Free Press Pbk. Ed edition (June 18, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684825252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684825250
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), resident in FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues relating to questions concerning democratization and international political economy. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, was published by Free Press in 1992 and has appeared in over twenty foreign editions. His most recent books are America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, and Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap between Latin America and the United States. His latest book, The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution will be published in April 2011.

Francis Fukuyama received his B.A. from Cornell University in classics, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in Political Science. He was a member of the Political Science Department of the RAND Corporation from 1979-1980, then again from 1983-89, and from 1995-96. In 1981-82 and in 1989 he was a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the US Department of State, the first time as a regular member specializing in Middle East affairs, and then as Deputy Director for European political-military affairs. In 1981-82 he was also a member of the US delegation to the Egyptian-Israeli talks on Palestinian autonomy. From 1996-2000 he was Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University, and from 2001-2010 he was Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He served as a member of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001-2004.

Dr. Fukuyama is chairman of the editorial board of The American Interest, which he helped to found in 2005. He holds honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, Doane College, Doshisha University (Japan), and Kansai University (Japan). He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Rand Corporation, the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, and member of the advisory boards for the Journal of Democracy, the Inter-American Dialogue, and The New America Foundation. He is a member of the American Political Science Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Pacific Council for International Affairs. He is married to Laura Holmgren and has three children.

March 2011

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars underrated despite being an oversimplification November 11, 2004
I live in Europe close to the fault line between (in Fukuyama-speak) low-trust-land and high-trust-land and I have rarely read such an interesting book. In some ways the book is the successor to Max Weber's magnum opus, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (published in 1905) about the impact of protestant religion and culture on economical success in Germany.

Rather than compare Protestantism with Catholicism and their economical impact on German citizens, Fukuyama divides the world into high and low trust societies. Within Europe low trust societies largely coincide with Catholic countries and high trust societies coincide largely with Protestant countries, hence some of Fukuyama's work will sound familiar at times to a reader of Max Weber. Still, Fukuyama's categorisation is not based per se on religious affiliation. Fukuyama is at pains to attribute the low trust of Italians or French to historical events or situations. At times it seems he goes out of his way to avoid attributing any causal role to religion. But the advantage of his approach is that his methodology in theory works in any culture outside the European Christian context. Fukuyama also applies his trust criterion on societies such as the US, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. The Middle East and Africa are conspicuous in their absence, possibly because there are few if any examples of so-called high-trust cultures in these parts of the world.

There are a few shortcomings to the book :

Fukuyama only draws economical consequences from the presence or absence of trust, for instance, he claims high trust cultures such as Japan and Germany find it easier to form very large companies, whilst low trust cultures such as Taiwan or Italy feel more at home in family companies.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As a result of his previous major work Francis Fukuyama achieved fame as the man who predicted 'the end of history'. With this new work he has turned his attention from the political arena to consider comparative international economic performance. He describes the broad theme of Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity as follows; "that social capital has a significant impact on the vitality and scale of economic organizations".

Many commentators have tried to evaluate the importance of culture in determining national economic success. Fukuyama claims to have identified the key, performance-determining, aspect of national culture, namely, the level of trust present in a society. He maintains that culture is of critical importance to everyday economic life and that only high trust societies can create the kind of large scale business enterprises that are needed to compete in today's global economy.

The culturalist view of history attributes the success of Japan and later of other East Asian countries such as China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan to their common Confucian traditions and their concomitant cultural characteristics. However, the traditional drawing of distinctions between Eastern and Western cultures is seen as too simplistic by Fukuyama, who points out the many differences inherent in East Asian societies. He points out not only the differences between Japan and China, but also those between China and Chinese societies abroad such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. This attention to detail and depth of analysis is one of the strengths of Fukuyama's study.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Argues that trust (or its absence) shapes economies. January 17, 1999
By A Customer
The author divides societies into two classes: high trust and low trust. High-trust societies form volunteer and meritocratic organizations that expand in scope and efficiency to reach optimum economies of scale. These commercial and non-profit organizations (which are not dependent on family ties) create a network of efficiencies that benefit commerce, media communication and social change.
Low-trust societies, in contrast, rely on the extended family to build commercial, social and political networks. The trouble with the extended-family approach to economic development is that all families will soon run out of blood-line managerial, scientific, literary or artistic talent. The Latin Catholic and Chinese cultures are described as low-trust societies.
One conclusion to this analysis is that it is the lack of trust in society that forces developing countries to have large government organizations. In countries such as Mexico, the lack of trust in the players and in the notion of market efficiency itself leads to the creation and perpetuation of state monopolies.
The author wonders if trust in the American society is declining, to judge, at least, by the rising number of guarded residential compounds. The Clinton impeachment trial, from one lens, is about the threat to trust in public life. According to the model, if trust declines, so too will economic prosperity.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars economics as cultural anthropology June 26, 1999
By A Customer
Reviews of Fukuyama's book Trust tend to be by those who read it for the political and economic insights. Since I have lived in Asia and Africa, what interested me was the insight on how lines of trust between human beings are seen by different cultures.
Reading this book explains why Americans should hesitate to invest in China (they only really trust those in their own families). It explains why Japanese trust their companies not to be fired. And it explains why American conservatives favor local and private solutions to problems rather than government.
Businessmen and others who assume all people think like Americans might benefit from reading this.
One problem is that it is a thoughtful book, but not a book that is easy to read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The title is way too broad (so is the subtitle).
More accurate is the first sentence of chapter 28 (of 31), “In this book we have examined a variety of societies from the standpoint of one specific aspect of culture as it relates... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Roger Sweeny
5.0 out of 5 stars This guy is brilliant. I don't agree with everything in his books ...
This guy is brilliant. I don't agree with everything in his books and articles but he definitely makes me think. Excellent book!
Published 2 months ago by Rich Nafziger
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking
In this challenging book, author Francis Fukuyama examines the role of “trust” in economics. He proposes that it is the social capital of a given country (or even area within a... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kurt A. Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting
This book is huge (just under 500 pages) statistical, and intimidating. But if you have an interest in culture and trust it is a must read. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Sadie Forsythe
5.0 out of 5 stars trust. the social virtues ant the creation of prosperity
I heard about this book at a seminar and the presenter had recommended that we should read it, I have started to but is not complete as yet.
Published 13 months ago by Norman
3.0 out of 5 stars Generally good, but I'd like a bit more quantitation. Book is dated.
This book has 31 chapters over 362 pages of prose. That works out to about 11.7 pages, and so each chapter is very bite sized. Read more
Published on August 12, 2012 by Lemas Mitchell
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a book with a great deal of insight.
The author uses overseas Chinese societies such as Taiwan and Hong Kong to make predication as to how China will develop. Read more
Published on October 26, 2009 by Man Chau
2.0 out of 5 stars this is something to consider
high trust = community organization &/or national loyalty
mid trust = clan, extended family, or sub-caste = the radius of loyalty
low trust = nuclear family being the... Read more
Published on August 30, 2008 by Brentano Amaroso
5.0 out of 5 stars Trust -- A Must Read
Great book. A must read for anyone who wants to learn what makes the world go 'round.
Published on November 22, 2007 by Mark W. Erwin
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought this was dazzlingly brilliant...
Fukuyama outlines how the "intermediate social organizations" of society, under the Protestant ethic, permitted the development of modern capitalist structures; whereas in... Read more
Published on January 6, 2006 by Stephen Armstrong
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