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Strategic Pragmatism: The Culture of Singapore's Economics Development Board


  • Edgar C. Schein

    () (MIT Sloan School of Management)


Per capita income in Singapore has gone from $500 to more than $20,000 in a little over twenty-five years. Edgar Schein, a social psychologist with a long and celebrated research interest in organizational studies, examines the cultural history of the key intstitution that spawned this economic miracle. Through interviews and full access to Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB), Schein shows how economic development was successfully promoted. He delves into the individual relationships and the overall structure that contributed to the EDB's effectiveness in propelling Singapore, one of Asia's "little dragons" into the modern era. In his foreword, Lester Thurrow locates Schein's organizational and case-specific account within a larger economic and comparative framework. Over a period of two years, Schein studied how the EDB was created, the kind of leadership it provided, the management structure it used, the human resource policies it pursued, and how it influenced other organizations within the Singapore government. Schein sat in on EDB meetings and extensively interviewed current and former members of the board, Singapore's leaders who created the board, and businesspeople who have dealt with the board. His book intertwines the perspective of the board's members and its investor clients in an analysis that uses both organization and cross-cultural theory. Although there are currently studies of comparable Japanese and Korean organizations, this is the first detailed analysis of the internal structure and functioning of the economic development body of Singapore, a key player in the Asian and world markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Edgar C. Schein, 1996. "Strategic Pragmatism: The Culture of Singapore's Economics Development Board," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262193671, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262193671

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Kumhof & Evan C Tanner, 2005. "Government Debt; A Key Role in Financial Intermediation," IMF Working Papers 05/57, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen Reinhart, 2003. "The Center and the Periphery: The Globalization of Financial Turmoil," NBER Working Papers 9479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Amartya Lahiri & Rajesh Singh & Carlos A. Vegh, 2007. "Optimal Exchange Rate Regimes: Turning Mundell-Fleming's Dictum on its Head," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 54(3), pages 249-270, September.
    4. Fabrizio Coricelli & Bostjan Jazbec & Igor Masten, 2008. "Sources and Obstacles for Growth in Transition Countries: The Role of Credit," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00643347, HAL.
    5. repec:hal:journl:hal-00643347 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Bryan Ritchie, 2009. "Economic upgrading in a state-coordinated, liberal market economy," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 435-457, September.
    2. J. S. Eades, 2012. "East Asia," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, Second Edition, chapter 32 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Kuruvilla, Sarosh & Erickson, Christopher L. & Hwang, Alvin, 2002. "An Assessment of the Singapore Skills Development System: Does it Constitute a Viable Model for Other Developing Countries?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(8), pages 1461-1476, August.
    4. David Jones, 1997. "Asian Values and the Constitutional Order of Contemporary Singapore," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 283-300, December.
    5. Lin, Justin Yifu & Vu, Khuong Minh, 2014. "The practice of industrial policy: Lessons for Africa: Co-ordination through an Asian lens," WIDER Working Paper Series 156, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. James PL Tan, 2016. "A Generalized Population Dynamics Model of a City and an Algorithm for Engineering Regime Shifts," Papers 1612.08338,
    7. Keun Lee & John A. Mathews, 2010. "From Washington Consensus to BeST Consensus for world development," Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, vol. 24(1), pages 86-103, May.
    8. Carney, M. & Gedajlovic, E.R., 2001. "Institutional Change and Firm Adaptation," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2001-08-STR, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    9. Bryan K. Ritchie, 2010. "Systemic Vulnerability and Sustainable Economic Growth," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13731.

    More about this item


    Singapore; economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • N95 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General


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