4
Achieving Societies in the Past

Are we to infer from the data in the last chapter that n Achievement is always and everywhere an important factor in economic growth? The cross-cultural data do suggest that it promotes economic development in widely different cultures, but they are all more or less limited to the present type of economic development. They all deal with the extent to which a culture or a nation has adapted more or less rapidly to modern civilization with its stress on technology, the specialization of labor, or the factory system. Economic growth in the past has been of a quite different order and might have required a different motivational pattern.

The question is of particular interest because it was after all an historical case, the connection between the Protestant Reformation and the rise of capitalism, which gave rise to the general hypothesis. Can we collect any data that bear more directly on our interpretation of Weber's thesis? Was a rise in achievement motivation associated with the growth of Protestantism in the past? Or, for that matter, did a rise in achievement motivation precede economic growth in various countries in the past and did its fall precede economic decline? Fortunately the method exists for collecting data to answer such questions. The system of content analysis for n Achievement applied originally to individually written stories and then in Chapter 3 to folk tales and children's stories can also be applied to whatever imaginative literature has survived from past civilizations. Further- more, with a little ingenuity our requirement for some kind of quantitative index of economic activity can normally be satisfied so that we need not get embroiled in disagreements as to whether or when a country was growing or declining in the economic sense. The present chapter brings together the efforts that have been made to date to apply the approach used in the previous chapter to historical problems, i.e., to see whether achievement imagery in imaginative literature increases in frequency prior to instances of marked economic growth and decreases prior to subsequent economic decline. The cases so far studied cover a fairly wide range of historical epochs--Ancient Greece, Spain in the late Middle Ages, England from the late Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution, the United States from the Industrial Revolution to the present, and pre-Incan Peru. We will start with Ancient Greece, where all studies of the rise and fall of civilizations have their origin, and will present it in the most detail

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The Achieving Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • 1 - Explaining Economic Growth 1
  • 2 - The Achievement Motive: How it is Measured and Its Possible Economic Effects 36
  • 3 - Achieving Societies in the Modern World 63
  • 4 - Achieving Societies in the Past 107
  • 5 - Other Psychological Factors in Economic Development 159
  • 6 - Entrepreneurial Behavior 205
  • 7 - Characteristics of Entrepreneurs 259
  • 8 - The Spirit of Hermes 301
  • 9 - Sources of N Achievement 336
  • 10 - Accelerating Economic Growth 391
  • References 439
  • Appendices 451
  • Appendix I 453
  • Appendix II 461
  • Appendix III 464
  • Appendix IV 475
  • Appendix V 488
  • Appendix VI 492
  • Appendix VII 494
  • List of Tables 499
  • Index 503
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