The traditional nation/states that held sway over international commerce in the past are being replaced by new economic superpowers: ethnic tribes with members worldwide who share key characteristics necessary for success in a global economy, according to Joel Kotkin.
He is the author of "Tribes: How Race, Religion and Family Determine Success in the New Global Economy."Who are the new emerging economic tribes? The Jews, the Chinese, the Japanese, the British and the Indians, Kotkin says. But he identifies another group that shares attributes of the five tribes - the Mormons.
Like the other five groups, Mormons have:
- A strong ethnic identity with a sense of mutual dependence and emphasis on the family structure.
- A global network based on tribal trust that allows the group to function collectively.
- A passion for technology and a belief in scientific progress.
Kotkin spoke Thursday evening at 8th Governor's Conference on Economic Development, which continues today at the Seven Peaks Resort Hotel in Provo.
Growth in exports, international lending, new communication and transportation capabilities and massive immigration, particularly from developing countries to North America, are among factors spurring a truly global economy, Kotkin said.
"Coupled with the end of the Cold War and the growing internationalization of the economy, this wave of immigration will profoundly effect the nature of markets in society over the next generation," Kotkin said.
The globalization process affects demographics, trade, finance and culture, while at the same time reinforcing the role of global tribes who are dispersed worldwide, share a communal identity and are imbued with a cosmopolitan spirit that seeks new information and technologies.
"In some global tribes, such as the Mormons, this has been linked to religion," Kotkin said.
He noted that with the fall of Communism, there's been a resurgence in religion.
"Although this resurgence has at times expressed itself negatively, it is going to become an enormously powerful and potentially positive force in the integration of the world economy."
The LDS Church has benefited from the resurgence in religion and is rapidly developing into a transnational faith and transnational culture, he said.
Mormons, who strive for personal perfection, stress education, Kotkin said. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with missionaries working around the world, has created a pool of people proficient in foreign languages.
The challenge for Mormons will be to maintain "an essential coherency amid a growing diversity and exposure to other groups," he says in "Tribes."
"But given the scale of the current religious revival combined with the formidable organizational resources of the church, the Mormons could well conceivably emerge as the next great global tribes," he writes.
Like Mormons, Jews are held together by a faith and set of beliefs that cross international lines. Jews are the oldest of global tribes, forced to depend on each other, widely dispersed by persecution.
Kotkin said the most important global tribe in history has been the British. In the near term, he said the Chinese and Asian Indians may be the most powerful economic forces.