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am 7. November 1998
If you are a post-modern liberal-minded type, swear by the perfectibility of democratic capitalism and put your faith in the healing powers arational phenomena like culture and religion have on our over-busy life then you would like this book. Moreover, if you are a sociologist then you would appreciate the lucidity of thought and tenacity of argument that the author shows when he examines different societies. Even then if you are a leading American political scientist and a best-seller author then you must be Francis Fukuyama himself.
Francis Fukuyama's book comes as a sequel to his magnum opus 'The End of History and The Last Man' which made waves in academic circles. In this book he claimed that after the demise of communism, history had virtually come to a halt - income the free market concepts like de-regulation, liberalization and free competition and all others exeunt.
In his latest book, he adds another ingredient for the making of a successful society - social capital. The author gives the idea of trust. According to him trust is the expectation that arises within a community of regular, honest, and cooperative behaviour, based on commonly shared norms, on part of other members of that community.
He divides societies on the basis of the quantum of trust that exists therein. China, France, Korea and Italy are low-trust societies whereas Japan, Germany, America are high-trust.
He starts from social set-up and correlates it with the industrial structure a society may evolve for itself, and tells how the former determines the position of a country in the global diversion of labour. Though people may interact through contract lams but if they trust each other the cost may be effectively reduced. Similarly if an economic turmoil hits a country, a socially well knit society may cope with it more hard-nosily. Also a high-trust society is more capable to form large organizations. For instance, the Japanese keiretsu networks help each other out when in distress.
As such he does not make a case for 'cultural determinism' that certain societies are bound to succeed while others to fail and falter. In his own words "there is no necessary trade-off between community and efficiency but those who pay attention to community may indeed become the most efficient of all."
With minor exceptions the book makes an interesting reading, intelligent in content and thought-provocative, indeed a marvelous piece of value-added research.
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am 8. Dezember 1997
Fukuyama's Trust is a valuable piece of work offering an interesting insight into the civil-society school of thought. However, the new right implications of his analysis is worrying to a reader uncomfortable with the lack of paternalism of American political culture. Fukuyama expands upon theories as posited by others ranging from Weber to state-centered theorists such as Eric Nordlinger producing a piece of literature that expands upon contemporary explanations of modern economic and subsequently, political development. One flaw in Fukuyama's argument is that it is too reuductionist in its scope, considering only those examples which best fit his argument, while neglecting those variables which could do damage to his overall claims. Furthermore, Fukuyama is too harsh in explaining why certain groups are ultimately more successful than others, neglecting to consider various very real exigences certain communities face today. His approach in this regard would be very comfortable within the political camp headed by the Dan Quayles and Preston Mannings of our political world. Notwithstanding this criticism though, Trust proves to be an incredible read, allowing one to consider elements which for the most part have been overlooked in contemporary political study. It was very difficult to put down.
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am 18. Februar 1997
As a result of his previous major work Francis Fukuyama achieved fame as the man who predicted 'the end of history'. With this new work he has turned his attention from the political arena to consider comparative international economic performance. He describes the broad theme of Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity as follows; "that social capital has a significant impact on the vitality and scale of economic organizations".

Many commentators have tried to evaluate the importance of culture in determining national economic success. Fukuyama claims to have identified the key, performance-determining, aspect of national culture, namely, the level of trust present in a society. He maintains that culture is of critical importance to everyday economic life and that only high trust societies can create the kind of large scale business enterprises that are needed to compete in today's global economy.

The culturalist view of history attributes the success of Japan and later of other East Asian countries such as China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan to their common Confucian traditions and their concomitant cultural characteristics. However, the traditional drawing of distinctions between Eastern and Western cultures is seen as too simplistic by Fukuyama, who points out the many differences inherent in East Asian societies. He points out not only the differences between Japan and China, but also those between China and Chinese societies abroad such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. This attention to detail and depth of analysis is one of the strengths of Fukuyama's study.

To date, the debate on this topic has centred around culturalist explanations of the economic success of the Asia-Pacific Region, but Fukuyama has gone further by attempting to apply his thesis to all developed economies; Chinese, European, North American, Japanese and former communist. Fukuyama, following Weber, sees the earlier economic success of Western Europe as culturally determined, namely as a logical result of the Protestant work ethic.

Fukuyama sees three types of trust; the first is based on the family, the second on voluntary associations outside the family, and the third is the state. Each of these has a corresponding form of economic organisation; the family business, the professionally managed corporation and the state-owned enterprise, respectively. Societies in which family ties are strong (and thus ties outside the family relatively weak) have great difficulty creating large professionally managed corporations and look to the state to perform this critical economic function. Societies with high levels of trust, and many voluntary associations can create large economic organisations without state support. Fukuyama cites China, Italy, France and South Korea as societies with a strong role for the family and weak voluntary associations, while Japan, the United States, and Germany are said to have strong and plentiful associations beyond the family. The detail with which Fukuyama supports each of these examples is truly impressive and betrays the depth of research that undoubtedly went into writing this book.

Overall Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity has to be considered a highly original work which has and will continue to raise significant interest. While many will dispute Fukuyama's main contention that significant comparative advantages arise from differences in levels of trust between countries, he offers a great deal of evidence to support an argument which is certainly correct at an intuitive level.
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am 27. Juni 1999
Reviews of Fukuyama's book Trust tend to be by those who read it for the political and economic insights. Since I have lived in Asia and Africa, what interested me was the insight on how lines of trust between human beings are seen by different cultures.
Reading this book explains why Americans should hesitate to invest in China (they only really trust those in their own families). It explains why Japanese trust their companies not to be fired. And it explains why American conservatives favor local and private solutions to problems rather than government.
Businessmen and others who assume all people think like Americans might benefit from reading this.
One problem is that it is a thoughtful book, but not a book that is easy to read.
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am 7. Juni 2002
Fukuyamas Versuch, ökonomische Handlungsrationalität in einen kulturellen Kontext zu setzen, ist in einer Zeit der Mathematisierung der Sozialwissenschaften ein wichtiger und wirkungsvoller Gegenansatz. Fukuyamas Konzept des "Vertrauens" ist ein Bindeglied, das die kulturell abhängige Unterschiedlichkeit von indivdiueller wie kollektiver Rationaliät erklären kann. Leider wirken die empirischen Belege Fukuyamas teilweise etwas pauschal - dieser Teil des Buches fällt deutlich zum theoretischen Teil ab.
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am 28. Januar 2000
What makes Francis Fukuyama such a special author is his ability to 1) take large, complicated subjects such as the dynamics of industrial economies or the breakdown of the American family and substitute them with larger and more substantive themes. He brings social science back to its grand roots, broadening the circle of human understanding. 2) Fukuyama has a unique gift to push the public dialogue into new and unchartered territory. He challenges people to think differently. He accomplishes this again in "Trust." It is an impressive book which re-connects the issues of culture and economics. His thesis that public values, especially trust, shapes the direction of national economies is well-proved by the author. I will add, though, that the book got a bit long-winded at times. It seemed to lack focus periodically, especially in the heart of the book. I would have also preferred that Mr. Fukuyama spend more time examining the United States. I do not see why it should receive the same attention as the other countries, ranging from Japan to Italy. I would also have been interested to hear more about his feelings about how communism will impact Russia's culture and economic future. But these mild criticisms do not greatly impact was is an important and interesting work.
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am 17. Januar 1999
The author divides societies into two classes: high trust and low trust. High-trust societies form volunteer and meritocratic organizations that expand in scope and efficiency to reach optimum economies of scale. These commercial and non-profit organizations (which are not dependent on family ties) create a network of efficiencies that benefit commerce, media communication and social change.
Low-trust societies, in contrast, rely on the extended family to build commercial, social and political networks. The trouble with the extended-family approach to economic development is that all families will soon run out of blood-line managerial, scientific, literary or artistic talent. The Latin Catholic and Chinese cultures are described as low-trust societies.
One conclusion to this analysis is that it is the lack of trust in society that forces developing countries to have large government organizations. In countries such as Mexico, the lack of trust in the players and in the notion of market efficiency itself leads to the creation and perpetuation of state monopolies.
The author wonders if trust in the American society is declining, to judge, at least, by the rising number of guarded residential compounds. The Clinton impeachment trial, from one lens, is about the threat to trust in public life. According to the model, if trust declines, so too will economic prosperity.
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am 13. November 1998
This book blends together extensively detailed research and great style of presentation. Immensely readable. However, a vague feeling persists that data has been "fitted" to support the theory being presented. Any mention of Latin America, Indian subcontinent, Africa and others has been completely glossed over. Also, the picture being painted for China is not flattering. A long-term sustained prosperity for China is not predicted by Fukuyama, based on his observation of Chinese cultural values. But all-in-all extremely informative and provided insights into the cultural aspects of macro-economics.
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am 5. Februar 1997
Many in the West look with disbelief and awe at the growth of the East Asian tigers in recent years. The author highlights how such seemingly low trust societies may indeed be hampered by deeper cultural factors in the ever more competitive economic landscape of the future. This book should be read by aspiring East Asian leaders of low trust societies before its too late
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am 1. Januar 1997
Asks the question how people come to trust each other
enough to create the vast sustaining enterprises of
prosperity. A must-read for world-philosophers, subject
to the caveat that the generalization to nationalities
can be attacked as weak, though this does not make it
less compelling.
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