The Jungle Behind the Industrial Policy

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1984

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Abstract

"Anthropologists and their subjects provide opportunities for more than the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity. Ethnographic studies may be relevant to important contemporary policy issues. For example, it is possible to view Melanesia's Cargo Cults as relevant analogies to industrial policies. In the vast openness of the Pacific Ocean lies a group of islands inhabited by tribes known collectively as Melanesians. For thousands of years, these tribes existed in a primitive state, depending primarily on domestic pigs, gardens, and copra (a tropical fruit) as staples and producing no important commercial product. Nevertheless, during the early 1900s, the German government settled there and attempted to build copra and rubber industries on the larger islands. Predictably, using central planning to build such an industrial base was unsuccessful. Among other problems, rubber and copra market prices were insufficient to cover shipping expenses. While the Europeans were unable to develop viable commercial activities, they caused a series of increasingly costly movements among the natives. Anthropologists have labeled these movements 'Cargo Cults'."

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industry--policy

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