James Ferguson Term Paper

Pages: 11 (2913 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 9  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Business

James Ferguson

It seems as if the key word in the business world today is 'globalization', with worldwide business ventures, partnerships and conglomerations being formed on a daily basis. As these events take place, the business industry, as well as the public, is able to discern a wider disparity between the haves and the have nots. This disparity is noticeable on the local community level, as well as nationally, and can be especially noticed on the international scale, with entire countries succumbing to a 'developmental' mindset. Such a way of thinking can lead some countries to a financial position that, instead of being 'developed', can mean huge amounts of debt and an infrastructure that can often be likened to a deck of cards.

Some examples of such situations can be the current Zambian Copperbelt area that after investing untold amounts of money and resources into building an infrastructure that was supposed to not only bring the country into the 21st century, it was also supposed to ensure that Zambia was to become a beacon for many of the other African countries, instead it left the area saddled with an overwhelming debt, and its infrastructure in a shambles. Still other developmental exercises continue to this day, in other African countries that may end up in the exact same pickle as Zambia is in.

Examples of the continued attempts to develop areas of the world that have yet to be developed can be found in the business news each and every day.

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Business ventures and partnerships are being formed on a consistent basis as evidenced by the following statement discovered in a local business magazine; "The global private equity group of Robert W. Baird & Company has entered into a partnership with a consulting firm to explore business opportunities in India for its portfolio companies." (Baird 2007)

Term Paper on James Ferguson Assignment

The report continued on to say the Baird & Company will maintain a senior advisor in the Bangalor, India, office who will, "work exclusively with Tholons Inc. Baird Private Equity's portfolio companies, particularly those in the business services sector, to evaluate, develop and execute appropriate strategies in India. Strategies may include establishing captive operations in India, forming partnerships with third-party service providers, or distributing products or services within the Indian domestic market." (Baird 2007)

These types of partnerships do not show true 'development' in countries, but they do display the mindset of business professionals in seeking out new markets. It is this mindset that can lead to problems within countries who have yet to be developed, but are seeking to do so. A particular emphasis can be placed on African countries that are in this situation.

It is with this situation that the countries get caught up in 'developing', often times leading to disastrous results. The expectations of these countries are often shattered in the process.

It is said of James Ferguson, an anthropologist best known for his attempts to 'depoliticalize development' especially in African countries, that he portrayed the circumstances of development in a unique way.

One expert shows how Ferguson portrays the people of the Zambian Copperbelt by stating; "he highlights the pall of despair that hangs over Copperbelt residents, consequent on their shared sense that the promises of modernity have been betrayed." (Sharp 2001)

Ferguson believes that those promises do not have to be betrayed but that countries can be developed in a manner that would secure a financial future for those countries that would not necessarily rival those in the West, but would at the least allow those countries to participate in the growth many countries take for granted.

Ferugson finds especially galling the politics that seems to find its way into these markets as they continue to search for that growth, not only of government's negative role in perpetuating the continued failure in developmental efforts, but the media's role of supporting the government in those same efforts.

"As narrated in the popular press, it is typically told as a blame-the-victim tale of nepotism, corruption, blind ethnic attachment, and timeless tradition. In the scholarly literature, it often becomes a narrative of Africa's victimization -- by colonialism and neocolonialism, disease and the environment." (Piot 2001)

Either way it is seen, it is still emblematic of failure. Ferguson attempts to understand why such failure is so prevalent, and ends up decrying the notion that it is a blame-the-victim tale.

Instead, he believes that the colonists, the government and those in power have much to do with the way that African countries continually end up on the wrong end of the development stick.

"Whatever one's script of the causes, the issues seem depressingly intractable and the "Afro-pessimists" --on both right and left -- keep growing in number." (Piot 2001)

If indeed these issues are intractable, and that nothing seems to work in some of these countries, perhaps the question is not one of whose fault it is, but what can be done to counteract these issues.

One area that many experts agree is one that is ripe for observation is one of location. Even Ferguson agrees with those that are looking for answers and that those answers could concern where the people are located (in Africa) and that such locales could affect their mindsets, mannerisms and actions, and that such an effect could, in some instances, be so overwhelmingly negative as to make it virtually impossible to overcome. It is interesting though that not everyone agrees with Ferguson's supposed link between the rural and urban areas, that leads to such negativity.

Macmillan in a 1996 paper wrote in response to Ferguson's assertions that; "his three-stage modernist narrative was not well-founded in the major literature and that, in particular, there had been no tendency for progressive scholars to deny the continuing importance of rural-urban links." (Macmillan 1996-page 309)

Ferguson sees events as more the result of the colonial government gathering more power by focusing the country's citizenry on the development process which, in reality, gives the government more power and control, not less.

Piot states; "He sees the urban as a disorderly space where meanings are partial and fleeting, where miscommunication and improvisation are the norm, and where the analyst's (modernist) desire to "get to the bottom" of things will remain forever frustrated." (Piot 2001)

This miscommunication and improvisation are key components to the deceiving appearance of development according to Ferguson. An interesting fact is that Ferguson only applies this thinking in regards to African countries. It would seem that he truly believes that locale is so important to the development process, that all of Africa would be included in his assumptions.

Some experts have stated that, "It is beyond doubt that a complex phenomenon such as globalization will produce differential impact across nations of the world. More specifically, its ramifications even for groups or individuals within those nations or communities may differ in drastic terms according to their historical location." (Development 2002-page 361) it would seem, therefore, that these same experts agree with Ferguson's assessment of the situation, perhaps not to the degree that Ferguson would state, but agree nonetheless. Ferguson would say that it is the neoliberal government(s) that benefit from the depoliticizing development discourses, and that such discourses, "inevitably buttresses bureaucratic state power" (Robin 2003-page 265)

Much of the problem that Ferguson sees with development, for only development's sake, is that it does not necessarily make sense to have such development in the urban areas of Africa, particularly if the way such development is planned for is by using a rural workforce whose needs and desires may be quite a bit different than their urban compatriots. Development that makes sense for one particular area or country, may not make as much sense for another.

"Some of the key assumptions of post-development and anti-development critics such as Arturo Escobar and Wolfgang Sachs...tend to prescribe a puritanical and principled rejection of 'exogenous development' that does not necessarily reflect the needs and desires of the beneficiaries of development." (Robin 2003-page 266)

Robin questions such assertions and states, "the fieldwork findings suggest that state-led development is often an extremely risky business that can undermine the legitimacy and authority of governments." (Robin 2003-page 265)

On one hand then we have experts such as Ferguson, Escobar and Sachs who say that colonialism, a corrupted governmental control and development that does not necessarily make sense for the area it is planned, are all key reasons why such development needs to be depoliticized, while other experts would argue the exact opposite.

With this large discrepancy between the thinking of such experts, the question that begs an answer is whether a common ground can be established in order for the countries that are behind times the flexibility, desire and capability to compete on an equal basis with those countries that have already achieved 'developed' status.

Instead the current history of Africa could perhaps best be described by; "The story of "Africa in decline" -- of a continent in deep economic and political crisis, where the modernization project has not only failed… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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