I’ve written before about the huge pool of abductive reasoning in emerging economies and the opportunity it represents for western multinationals. This piece will explore the negative implications of that same mental resource for emerging economies themselves.
Abductive reasoning, popularized by Roger Martin, refers to decision making and problem solving where there is no precedent, no prior experience. In that sense it is distinct from both deductive and inductive reasoning, both of which rely on prior experience.
Now as to my argument, it is accepted knowledge that resource shortages incentivizes innovation. It should therefore not surprise anyone that the historic lack of resources and specialized tools that plagued emerging economies populations resulted in a proliferation of the “I can figure how to do this myself” mentality. In my prior post I’ve argued that western companies suffering from over-proceduralization could leverage the pool of abductive reasoning to revitalize their innovative capacities. But what is the impact of this prolific mental resource and indeed mentality for emerging economies themselves?
In my humble view informed by personal experience, the impact of abundant abductive reasoning to business and economic growth is actually negative for emerging economies. The idea that one can work-around lack of expertise is akin to an in-sourcing business model, where the respect for expert specialists and therefore for established professions diminishes accordingly. In an emerging economy one who would hire a moving company rather than call his friends and family over to pack would be deemed as down-right stupid. The “ideal” inhabitant of an emerging economy is a generalist skilled in multiple domains but expert of none, always willing to venture into endeavors for which he or she possesses no prior acumen. The outsourcing mindset is practically nonexistent at the individual member of society, and when scaled, this mentality results in an unfriendly attitude to business in general, and partnerships in particular (nevermind the paradox that everyone dreams of being an entrepreneur!). Scaled to the level of entire societies, there is a genuine distrust of business and experts, seen mostly as charlatans out to rob what little wealth various individuals may have managed to accumulate.
And so, there is no perfect world, and the abundance of abductive reasoning, prized in the western world as a vital ingredient of innovation, doesn’t necessarily correlate to economic prosperity in the developing world where it is ironically abundant. There could be a happy medium that combines the pro-business western mindset with the innovation prone mentality of the typical emerging economy inhabitant but in my humble opinion both players are too narrow minded to explore such “abstract” opportunities. We are in my opinion practicing a primitive breed of globalization indeed. If it is prosperity we are all after, there are smarter ways to leverage the developed-developing world partnerships.
Photo source here.