The mistake of treating a culture as a static thing

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

A good comment by jacobwilliamroy:

“My impression as to your cheap labour was soon disillusioned when I saw your people at work. No doubt they are lowly paid, but the return is equally so; to see your men at work made me feel that you are a very satisfied and easy-going race who reckon time is no object. When I spoke to some managers they informed me that it was impossible to change the habits of a national heritage.”

This excerpt appears in Ha-Joon Chang’s book “Bad Samaritans” and it was written by an Australian consultant with regards to Japan in August 1915. Chang also mentions Sidney Gulick’s 1903 book “Evolution of the Japanese” which also stereotypes the Japanese as “‘easy-going’ and ’emotional’ people who possessed qualities like ‘lightness of heart, freedom from all anxiety for the future, living chiefly for the present.'”

I don’t have details on Brazil, but I am almost certain that this “Brazilian time” is just a symptom of some completely reversible, systemic problem that is making it difficult to do business with high-technologies in Brazil.

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