9
Sources of n Achievement

Suppose we accept, for the sake of the argument, that a part of the "push" for economic development comes from a psychological characteristic which is roughly reflected in our measure of n Achievement. What then? Why do some people have more n Achievement at some times than other people? Is it a question of racial heredity, challenge from the environment, or perhaps certain economic, political or social disadvantages?

The problem is not merely one of academic interest. If it should turn out, for example, that n Achievement itself is a rather simple psychological response to certain economic or social conditions, then the historians and economists could, perhaps with a sigh of relief, continue thinking as they always have in terms of environmental rather than psychic events. They might accept the fact that the psychologist has a legitimate interest in trying to understand what happens in the minds of men as history unfolds, but still argue that the unfolding of history can be understood perfectly well in terms of relations between external "visible" events without reference to inner, psychic states.

In more abstract terms, suppose an economic historian is trying to understand how a country gets from condition A (a low level of economic development) to condition D (a high level of economic development). Ordinarily he explains and "understands" the process in terms of concrete historical, political or economic events (B and C) which intervene between A and D. The psychologist argues that such an understanding must necessarily be inaccurate and incomplete if it leaves out the effects of such events on certain intervening factors in the minds of men, on n Achievement level, for example. However, if it turned out that social event B always has a certain effect such as raising n Achievement level, then psychological analyses might be safely by-passed. They would be interesting but not essential. But even to know whether psychological analyses are necessary requires a study of how inevitably certain conditions give rise to psychic states like n Achievement. Only after it has been completed can we decide how much psychology must be introduced into studies of economic development.

The issue is also of more than academic interest because so many countries consciously want to develop rapidly at the present time. They might, for the sake of the argument, be willing to grant that some mysterious psy-

-336-

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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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