How future oriented is your country?

This was pointed by Jennie Bev in one of her comments in this blog and Unspun thinks it provides a fascinating insight into why some countries do better, and others fall by the wayside. It is a short article from a Harvard Business Review article by Mansour Javidan. It is based on a larger global study Javidan has been conducting on culture and leadership.

The common complaint in Indonesia is that the government and some businesses engage only in short term thinking. The axis on “forward orientation” seems to bear this out. Indonesia is, of course hit also by low ratings in its “competitiveness,” and that’s perhaps why we’re not doing as well as we could be.

clipped from

By surveying over 17,000 middle managers in 61 societies, we have been able to discern clear differences in nine key areas. One of these is what we call “future orientation,” or the extent to which a culture encourages and rewards such behavior as delaying gratification, planning, and investing in the future….We found that societies vary greatly in how oriented they actually are to the long term, but in most cultures people’s personal values and aspirations are similar and quite future oriented. What’s more, most people feel their cultures aren’t as forward thinking as they should be.

JavidanSource: Mansour Javidan, “Forward-Thinking Cultures,” Harvard Business Review (July/August 2007)

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2 thoughts on “How future oriented is your country?

  1. Yes, it is interesting to see how societies (and cultures) perceive themselves differently in terms of how they anticipate the future. While parochial cultures may still dominate many developing countries (M’sia and Indonesia included), there are a bunch of people who are way beyond the average in terms of leveraging their capacities to build a better tomorrow.

    IMHO, for M’sia and Indonesia to be standing as tall as other countries, they should be aware of how the world of politics and business work. Branding and soft power, after all, come hand in hand, and they can’t be heightened without a strategically eradicated parochial cultures (such as narrow-minded “nationalism” because after all it is an “imagined community”).

    Even Norway, which is as tiny as country, has a strong brand, which is a “peace keeper” of the world. That is a powerful statement in this chaotic world. And that is very future oriented, in its own sphere of existence.


  2. Hmmm.. interesting to see what their measure is on “competitiveness”.

    Working outside Indonesia with different nationality coworkers, IMHO, I find that most Indians are very competitive, if not the most. But they got pretty low point on competitiveness in this evaluation. I even led to believe that this country with their amazing human resources will soon in the leading position. But maybe just my stupid observation.. 🙂


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