East, West, Best: Cross - Cultural Encounters and Measures
26 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2003
A Dutch proverb ("Oost, west, thuis best") in the title of the present address draws our attention to a common sense notion of differences between various human groups, organizations and societies. Societies, far and close, differ. Pascal has already noted that a truth on one side of the Pyrenees becomes a lie on the other. Most of us have been brought up believing that things are different north, south, east and west, but here, at home, wherever that might be, one knows what is best, or at least better. It is one of the many missions of a university in a contemporary society to question common sense knowledge, to examine the unexamined beliefs and to expose the tacit values at the bottom of our hearts and minds. A critical analysis of the proverb in question would quickly reveal that there are many "Easts", not all of them eastern, that there are many "Wests", not all of them western, and that there are many "bests", not always better than the others. Some solutions to some problems can appear better - but not always, not everywhere and not for everybody. Not all "bests" will appear better than their predecessors, alternatives, or successors upon a closer examination, especially after some time. Who should perform a critical analysis of Easts, Wests and Bests? Following the iron laws of the political economy of our divided attention such analysis is being performed daily by journalists in mass media and by individual citizens in their daily lives as students, patients, consumers, tourists, family raisers, believers or workers. Common sense becomes common sense because it is common, not necessarily because it makes sense. It is up to us, members of an academic profession, to make sense of making sense and to indicate why some of these ways are so commonly accepted as to result in the common sense beliefs, which guide humans in their behaviour and prompt their routines.
Keywords: culture, economy, society, institutions, community, managers, sciences, relativity, European, Dutch, globalization, influence, rationality, modern, nation-states, market, history, common sense, emergence, Internet, cultural encounters, beliefs
JEL Classification: M, M10, L2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation