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The Inclusive Theory of Change

The Inclusive Theory of Growth

The Inclusive Theory of Change and the Philosophy of the Implicit Curriculum: Why Developed Countries are developed and Developing Countries are not

By Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr.

Successful economic development among developed countries and their diaspora on the one hand, and its persistent lag among developing countries on the other, are phenomena that are consistent in our world. This does not mean that there are no exceptions, however. Not everyone in developed countries is rich, and not everyone in developing countries is poor. But there is enough of a trend in each location to merit the overall designation of developed or developing. Likewise, generalizations are used here to explain the phenomena of development and underdevelopment.

To solve the problem of persistent underdevelopment in developing countries, the real reason why developed countries are developed must also be identified. This is not an analytical preference but a natural requirement, because development and underdevelopment are inverse sides of the same coin and cannot be meaningfully addressed without each other. The misery of persistent underdevelopment is first and foremost a symptom of the inability to explain why developed countries are developed in a manner that can be emulated. Developing countries are trapped in underdevelopment mainly because a useful explanation for development in developed countries does not exist.

Here we simultaneously answer both questions, which shows that while development is a conscious ongoing manipulation of available resources and a series of deliberate actions that lead to desired outcomes, it also has a component that is culturally derived. This cultural component makes development instinctive and inevitable for developed countries and keeps underdevelopment persistent in developing countries. The narratives of development and ‘education for development’ do not address the cultural aspect in a useful way. This may have been due to a lack of conceptual tools, but the tools are now available.

Definition of Development

Because real development is instinctive and inevitable, we take development in developed countries as a given. This leads us to define development for developing countries as the rise of a nation to meet the West and other developed countries as an economic equal based on the managerial and entrepreneurial leadership of its own indigenous people,[1] as China is doing.

The Economic Model

Developed economies have higher per capita incomes than developing countries, more efficient industrial sectors, higher standards of living, greater life expectancy, and so forth. While the comparative measures of development are numerous, the basis of comparison used here is the economic model. The term “economic model” refers to the model introduced by the Industrial Revolution in 18th century Europe, which is now dominant in the world. It refers to how organizations, institutions, technologies and actors operate and interact to achieve economic outcomes, how they facilitate human comfort and well-being, and how they advance the welfare of society. To the extent that social, political, and other non-economic factors influence these operations, interactions, and activities, they too are part of the economic model. The economic model is accessible to all countries and its effective conception and expression is enduring economic success and dominance over other groups and countries with less mastery. Developed countries are developed because they express the economic model more effectively than developing countries.

Colonialism eliminated the choice of economic models for developing countries and imposed the current economic model along with its rules for political and military organization, social institutions, national borders, markets, and other systems and structures. Ever since the end of colonialism, the relentless incursion of trade, globalization, technological change, and the rising expectations of indigenous populations have further cemented the use of the economic model as the axiomatic way for organizing society, securing human well-being, and maximizing human comfort. Today, the efficiency of the economic, educational, political, legal, and other institutional structures of a developing country are measured by the standards of developed countries. For better or for worse, developing countries now fully embrace the economic model and are bound to it with the same “irresistible force”[2] that binds developed countries to it. And for all practical purposes, developing economies are Western-style economies that happen to be underperforming. They must operate the economic model at a level of efficiency comparable to developed countries or forever suffer persistent underdevelopment and its symptoms.[3]

Expatriates and Developed Countries

The economic model may have evolved largely in the West, but it has been successfully implemented to the level seen in the West by a few Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China. These countries and Western nations are collectively referred to as “the developed countries.” While China is considered by some to be a developing country, it is clearly on its way to achieving the definition of development employed here. When individuals leave developed countries to operate in developing countries as transient workers, or when they live in developing countries as permanent or temporary immigrants, or have lived there for generations, they are referred to here as “expatriates.”

Expatriates usually perform as effectively as their counterparts in their home countries even though they work in developing countries. The local constraints that allegedly hold back effective managerial, supervisory, and entrepreneurial leadership performance among native graduates of higher education seem not to affect expatriates. Evidence for this includes the reliable performance of expatriate-led businesses of all sizes that organize successful operations ranging from oil and gas mining and refining to “globalization” manufacturing facilities; the preference for expatriate-led firms in IMF and World Bank-mandated privatization schemes; and the indispensable role of expatriates for constructing and maintaining critical infrastructure, including networks for power, communications, and transportation. Even when ownership is indigenous, expatriate managerial leadership is frequently indispensable for the enduring success of medium size or larger economic operations. And the case can be made that the position of a developing country on the development continuum (low to high-income) is also a measure of the extent of expatriate participation in the economy. Consequently, expatriates enjoy incomes and standards of living on par with developed countries while the larger native population remains poor or, at best, has only the “middle-income trap” to look forward to.[4]

Of course, locals provide the same effective leadership in many instances, but that occurs so rarely that it has yet to make a difference in overall economic performance. Native graduates of higher education rarely leave the employment of expatriate-managed establishments to seed the economy with enduring competitive ventures of their own that demand effective managerial leadership. So, the effectiveness of exemplary expatriate-led operations generally does not propagate through the economy without more expatriates.

It must be emphasized that the purpose of the Implicit Curriculum is not to replace expatriates. A truly developing economy adds capacity at a rate that quickly consumes available managerial and entrepreneurial talent, expatriates included. Rather, the Implicit Curriculum aims to expand the economic pie in a developing country to the size enjoyed by developed countries by providing many more people with the managerial effectiveness of expatriates in more areas of the economy at an increasing rate.[5]

TFP and The Limits of Objective Knowledge about Development

Numerous premises purport to explain why a few countries in our world are developed and most are not. These premises range from the biological, moral, and psychological to the statistical and mathematical, but they share one trait in common. None have been useful because they fail to explain development in developed countries in a way that can be successfully emulated by developing countries. The concept of Total Factor Productivity (TFP) highlights this shared problem. TFP is the aggregate measure of how efficiently a country uses its resources to generate income, and developed countries have much higher TFP than developing countries.[6] But TFP contains a question that remains to be answered. When adjustments are made for differences in the quality and quantity of physical and human production inputs, developed countries outperform developing ones by a wide margin.[7] The higher TFP score is said to account for 80 percent or more of the difference in income per worker between the richest and the poorest countries.[8] So, in addition to measurable physical and qualitative advantages in the factors of production, developed countries also enjoy productivity advantages that cannot be explained with available knowledge.

While the concept of TFP is more specific than Adam Smith’s vague “invisible hand,” it has served mostly to mark the boundary of what is objectively known about the difference between development and underdevelopment, beyond which redundant speculations begin. For more than half a century, the concept of TFP has highlighted that developed countries are more efficient than developing ones far in excess of the availability of resources and technical skill. In all that time, this mystery has withstood the best attempts of conventional wisdom to usefully penetrate it. Thus, TFP remains a “measure of ignorance” about development.[9] To be useful, any answer to the TFP puzzle must first explain why and how developed countries are developed. The Inclusive Theory of Growth does that. Second, the answer must also translate into a means for equalizing productivity differences between developed and developing countries. The Implicit Curriculum of Higher Education does that.

The Narrative of ‘Higher Education for Development’

Conventional or formal education consists of primary, secondary, and higher education. It is generally accepted that formal education facilitates economic growth. According to the World Bank,

“education is a powerful driver of development and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving health, peace, and stability. It delivers large, consistent returns in terms of income and is the most important factor to ensure equality of opportunities. For individuals, education promotes employment, earnings, health, and poverty reduction. For societies, it drives long-term economic growth, spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion.”[10]

Under this narrative and the ideas that support it, education is considered the primary means for initiating and sustaining development. The formal education system—especially higher education—is assumed to be the incubator and supplier of the managerial and entrepreneurial leadership talent required for developed countries to maintain the efficiency edge that sustains and improves their TFP competitive advantage.

The general structure, hierarchy, and process of the formal education system are familiar. Students attend school to learn predefined curricula by listening to teachers, asking questions, studying textbooks, doing homework, and so forth. Students are then tested through oral or written exams to determine how well the curriculum has been learned. The results of such evaluation generally determine whether students will advance through the curriculum or be held back. Upon successful completion of the curriculum, a certificate or official acknowledgement is awarded that can then be used to meet a job requirement or progress through higher levels of formal education.

‘Education for development,’ specifically ‘higher education for development,’ will receive more critical examination in the section where the details of the Implicit Curriculum are outlined. For now, though, suffice it to note that the formal education system in developed countries is similar to that in developing countries, where it was originally introduced by colonialism. The system is embraced in developing countries seemingly for the same reasons as those cited by the World Bank. Developing countries are encouraged to pursue formal education to facilitate their own development, and to rely on higher education for the administrative, managerial, and entrepreneurial leadership needed to make development happen.[11]

This narrative of ‘education for development’ credits the system of formal education for the successful economic development of developed countries, their maintenance of development, and their steady improvement through innovation and productivity gains. The narrative is widely accepted as self-evident and is hardly ever challenged. Moreover, the formal education system is expected to produce such benefits for individuals and nations alike, regardless of geographical location or cultural background. And when it does not, ‘education for development’ is not blamed for the failure because it seems to be beyond reproach. Rather, and by default, the developing countries and their peoples are somehow accountable.

Nevertheless, the widely accepted narrative of ‘education for development’—and specifically ‘higher education for development’—comprises the first layer of ignorance about TFP. The narrative and its supporting assumptions are hardly ever challenged on behalf of developing countries because they appear to be accurate for developed countries. As a result, the question has remained unanswered about why the same ‘education for development’ that seems to work so well in developed countries does not yield the same outcomes for developing countries. The Inclusive Theory of Growth answers the question.

Why ‘Higher Education for Development’ is Ineffective for Developing Countries

The record of continuous development in developed countries has shown that successive demographic generations routinely assume full competence in the operation and maintenance of the economic model that they inherit, and routinely improve its sophistication as they extend its reach. All of this takes place in the lifetime of each demographic generation with standard achievement in formal education. By contrast, subsequent demographic generations in developing countries have languished in the anemia, stagnation, or decay of their development inheritance, despite the growing supply of higher education graduates. Furthermore, developing countries have generally been unable to maintain, much less advance, major parts of their economies without the managerial and entrepreneurial leadership of expatriates. So, while ‘education for development’ seems to work for developed countries, it has not worked as well for developing countries.

Here, we consider the source of this ineffectiveness not to be a shortcoming of developing countries but of ‘higher education for development,’ the part of formal education that is supposed to supply the leadership required for development. Embedded in the concept of ‘higher education for development’ is the assumption that, regardless of cultural background, higher education imparts to all students the knowledge needed to make development happen, the knowledge needed for the graduate to perform as well as expatriates in managerial and entrepreneurial leadership roles. This egalitarian assumption is incorrect. While there is no question that higher education imparts technical skills, for developing countries, it has done little more.

The assertion that formal education imparts insufficient knowledge to make development happen outside of developed countries, or beyond their expatriate diaspora, stems in part from the following observations. The economic model originated in developed countries and is a subset of the cultures of developed countries. ‘Higher education for development’ emerged in developed countries to impart to their people the knowledge required to sustain and advance the economic model. But not everything about culture is lucid or leaves a trail that is recordable or teachable. Important aspects of culture are implicit and cannot be captured in textbooks or through explicit instruction.[12] As a subset of the larger culture of developed countries, the economic model likewise has critical conceptual and cognitive components that are acquired only through culture and apart from formal education. For people with a different culture, such as developing countries, ‘higher education for development’ is thus incomplete. Developed countries achieve success with the economic model because they possess more knowledge about it than developing countries do. They implement the economic model with consistent success not only with knowledge acquired in formal education but also with knowledge passively acquired through culture.

Incidentally, the narrative of ‘higher education for development’ appears true for Japan, South Korea, and China and their expatriate diaspora because, we assume, their cultures share a critical mechanism with the West. The mechanism is outlined later in this text.

Hidden to all

If the knowledge required to successfully operate the economic model cannot be obtained through the highest level of formal education, it might be considered as a “secret” known only by developed countries and deliberately withheld from developing countries. However, this assumption would be wrong because the “secret” knowledge of economic development is hidden to developed countries as well. Apparently, all that needs to be known about development is already known to developed countries. After all, theories of growth and interpretations of empirical data by government, in academia and business, seem to neatly account for ongoing development in developed countries and even accurately predict various aspects of it. Also, studies such as AHELO evaluate higher education in rich countries with the presumption that all the critical aspects of development are accounted for.[13] Developed countries have not detected any omissions in the historical narrative of their own development or in the practical narrative of ‘higher education for development’ as it applies to them. So, the economies of developed countries are doing just fine without identifying any hidden knowledge about development, and one does not usually go about searching for something that is not missed.

Moreover, developed countries do not directly suffer the pain of underdevelopment or have the same frame of reference as developing countries. Hence, developed countries and their formidable intellectual infrastructure have had little incentive to search beyond existing intellectual boundaries for the “secret” of the economic success they have enjoyed for so long. To the extent that developing countries depend on the intellectual infrastructure of developed countries, they too have been restricted to the same boundaries.

The Implicit Knowledge of the Economic Model

The implicit knowledge of the economic model is the knowledge of economic development that is imparted by culture. This knowledge is a cognitive component of the economic model that is distinguishable from explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge of the economic model consists of technical knowledge, which is teachable and can be explained in a classroom, documented in textbooks, recorded audio-visually, and tested in exams. By contrast, implicit knowledge of the economic model is not directly teachable or learnable. The concepts of tacit or implicit knowledge, implicit learning, and implicit memory are well established in academic literature, albeit in narrow contexts. Its main characteristic is that it cannot be directly taught or deliberately learned through lectures, documented in textbooks, or recorded in the ways of conventional education.[14] Also, implicit learning does not take place consciously[15] and is not consciously used by individuals.[16]

Implicit knowledge cannot be taught. Yet, it is somehow acquired by individuals. This suggests that Implicit knowledge is an individual’s unique understanding of phenomena that is proven accurate in practice. Without this understanding, ‘higher education for development’ will be as ineffective in developed countries as in developing countries. It is useful to recall that Western imperialism arose and subjugated much of the world to colonialism centuries before higher education became a common pursuit in Western countries and before the invention of business schools and the MBA. The managerial and entrepreneurial know-how that initiated and maintained the dominance of colonialism was supplied by the raw culture of these countries, as Max Weber noted.[17] While this fact is subsumed or forgotten in the narrative of ‘higher education for development,’ its significance is that the foundation of implicit knowledge is already possessed by the rank and file of individuals in the developed countries of today and by their expatriate diaspora regardless of formal education. Implicit knowledge may not be teachable with conventional curricula, but it still governs the creative organization and expression of technical knowledge as endless economic development through managerial and entrepreneurial competence and innovation. Implicit knowledge is mandatory knowledge for the effective expression of the economic model. It empowers individuals to use the economic model to solve problems and avail opportunities. With or without formal education, the cultures of developed countries passively and transparently supply individuals with a unique and accurate understanding of the economic model, whereas developing countries have no access to such knowledge, no matter how much education their people receive. The Implicit Curriculum decisively addresses this problem for the first time.

What is the Implicit Curriculum of Higher Education?

The Implicit Curriculum of Higher Education is the university program for equalizing the managerial, administrative, and entrepreneurial performance of developing countries with the performance of developed countries. It is a 4-year program whose graduates will routinely perform as well as expatriates from developed countries in managerial and administrative roles and as entrepreneurs. This will happen immediately upon graduation in any capacity or occupation, not at some unknown future date.

Colonialism imposed the Western economic model on developing countries. Developing countries are now too dependent on the model to switch to a different one. But the economy of a developing country remains an underperforming version of a developed economy. The goal of the Implicit Curriculum is not to define an alternative path for growth or to better manage poverty. The goal is to develop in the student the implicit knowledge of the economic model so that the graduate will express the economic model as well as developed countries.

The first principle or fundamental requirement of contemporary development is the acquisition and use of the implicit knowledge of the economic model. So, the Implicit Curriculum addresses underdevelopment at its root cause, not its obvious symptoms of poverty, instability, corruption and so on. It does this by familiarizing the student not only with the explicit aspects of the economic model (which is what conventional education does) but also with the intuitive elements and concepts of the economic model to at least the same extent that it is acquired through culture in developed countries and among their diaspora. One way to explain the Implicit Curriculum is this: If the Western-style economic model was a language that is proficiently used only by the developed countries and their expatriate diaspora, the Implicit Curriculum teaches fluent proficiency in that language to developing countries while conventional education does not. 

For developed countries, implicit knowledge of the economic model is imparted through years of passive cultural learning, not through schooling. There is no shortcut for acquiring the volume of cultural learning that amounts to implicit knowledge of the economic model. So, using the full resources of higher education, the Implicit Curriculum provides the student with an abundant volume of information. But the Curriculum also requires the student to dissect this information and then reassemble the details for the analytical purposes that meet the standards of higher education. By doing this repeatedly for a variety of topics and issues over the duration of the curriculum, the student will develop a  unique, instinctive or implicit understanding of phenomena expressed in the economic model as competent managerial, administrative and entrepreneurial leadership.

One assumption of the Implicit Curriculum is that the ability of developed countries to succeed and thrive in all areas of the economic model implies a higher and far more intimate level of familiarity with how the model works than conventional education provides. The success ascribed to higher education for creating managerial and entrepreneurial leadership in developed countries is based on that familiarity, which is acquired passively in culture outside of school. Therefore, higher education begins where cultural learning leaves off and is ineffective for developing countries because its content for familiarity is meagre compared to what is needed. In contrast, the Implicit Curriculum imparts the missing level of familiarity while also providing an unprecedented level of practice with the concepts of the economic model in the duration of undergraduate higher education.

The Implicit Curriculum is an invention to the extent that it is new. But it is not an invention in terms of the characteristics of the economic model and human behavior required for it to work. It is the result of a discovery of how naturally occurring mechanisms of culture combine with naturally occurring generic human attributes to create economic growth in the populations of developed countries and among their diaspora. The remainder of this section, the Inclusive Theory of Growth, will further define and interpret some of these mechanisms. 

But we acknowledge the limits of our effort. For instance, much has been written and said about the ability of humans to use language, the human language faculty. At the same time, humans don’t need those explanations to use their language. Indeed, humans have used language before the formal study of language began and learning to use one’s native tongue still does not require formal education. In this regard, explanations of how language works are mere adornments of the language faculty.

Likewise, the Implicit Curriculum takes advantage of naturally occurring mechanisms of culture and generic human attributes that are at work regardless of human interpretation. So, as with the use of language, the Implicit Curriculum works whether or not it is explained by the Inclusive Theory of Growth. Language exists and humans try to explain it. The Implicit Curriculum exists and we try to explain it with a theory. Both  language and the Implicit Curriculum work regardless of theories about how they work. But while the explanations of language are not required for the successful use of language by people, the Implicit Curriculum is required for people in developing countries to develop their economies.

Supporting Concepts

The elements of our analyses are consistent with widely accepted positions about the human condition. Among them are the following.

1. The Unconscious Mind

This is the premise that humans are not always aware of all the thought processes used for evaluation and for making decisions. Sigmund Freud pioneered the recognition of the unconscious mind as an important motivation for conscious thought, and contemporary cognition research has demonstrated the existence of several independent unconscious behavioral guidance systems, including the perceptual, evaluative, and motivational.[18] Social psychology research also suggests that these mental processes, of which the individual is unaware and which are unavailable to introspection, exert a pervasive, powerful influence over thought processes, memories, interests and motivations.[19] In short, the aspects of life that are most important to us, including the pursuit of security and comfort, also have substantial unconscious components,[20] and “unconscious mental processes are the foundations upon which emerging conscious operations are laid.”[21]

2. Mental Models

The mental model hypothesis is that people unconsciously construct “small-scale models” of external reality in their minds to facilitate comprehension and thinking. Such models can represent real-world events, situations, or processes to varying degrees of detail and accuracy. They could also represent hypothetical or imaginary conditions. Mental models correspond with the structure of the reality that they represent and work similarly to the real-world situations under consideration. They are a component of reasoning, explaining, and trying out alternatives in the mind or for anticipating situations that are yet to occur.[22] Mental models are constructed with input from the environment, deductions, and imagination mixed with prior knowledge.[23]

3. Cultural Learning
Cultural learning allows individuals to acquire knowledge and skills that they would have been unable to independently obtain through observation or study.[24] Cultural learning takes place during the period of time that children and adolescents are dependent on adults as they approach maturity,[25] and is part of the socialization process. Through cultural learning, ideas and systems of meanings are passed between individuals and generations.[26]

Comments: While cultural learning studies have focused primarily on explicit learning—i.e., the type that is teachable—we consider it the main venue for implicit learning that forms the basis of the individual’s mental model of the real-world economic model.

Also, Western-style economic development is native to developed countries, and the economic model is merely a component of that culture. As for the developed countries in Asia, their success suggests that they share specific cultural aspects with the West that allow them to transmit implicit knowledge of the economic model to future generations without deliberate intention. These aspects consist of the mechanism described later below.[27]

4. Implicit Knowledge

Implicit learning is how people acquire practical understanding of phenomena that are too elaborate, varied, or subtle to learn and operate with explicit instructions and rules alone. Main examples of implicit learning and implicit memory include language acquisition and cultural socialization.[28] Other examples include learning to ride a bicycle, swim or play a musical instrument.[29] Implicit learning occurs in the absence of conscious, reflective strategies to learn.[30] As a result, what has been learned usually cannot be specified or subjected to linear or direct relational analysis, because the acquired knowledge is vague and not fully accessible to consciousness.[31] In addition, the use of implicit knowledge is unconscious and does not require conscious cognitive operations such as reflection or memory retrieval.[32] But evidence that implicit learning has taken place is observable in subsequent behavior and decisions,[33] such as problem-solving and making accurate decisions in novel circumstances.[34] Implicit learning is believed to produce a tacit or opaque knowledge base that is an abstract mental representation (or mental model) of the underlying structure of the real-world environment.[35] Moreover, it has been proposed that “all forms of implicit knowledge are taken as essentially similar at their deepest levels,”[36] which suggests that other areas of human cognition share the same implicit knowledge.

Comment: Technical knowledge is often neatly categorized into subject areas and taught in school in the same way. However, the elements or components of the economic model are vast and layered, and the relationships between them are variable and complex. The elements cannot be sustainably organized, synthesized and managed by the individual for efficient outcomes in the real world by means of their explicit principles alone, i.e. the fixed protocols of technical knowledge. An accurate implicit mental representation of the underlying structure of the economic model is required to make correct judgments amidst the dynamic and contingent conditions of the real world. Implicit knowledge correctly orients the individual’s assessment about how the elements of the economic model actually work together, anticipates how they should work together, and imagines how they might work better in the face of real-world contingencies under both familiar and novel circumstances. The use of implicit knowledge to deploy technical knowledge accounts for routinely successful managerial decision making, endless innovation, and competent entrepreneurship. Without its implicit knowledge, the elements and concepts of the economic model cannot be consistently organized, deployed, and maintained indefinitely for effective decision making as developed countries and their diaspora have done. Without it, the economic model is, at best, expressed through the fixed protocols of technical knowledge itself with persistent underdevelopment as the result.

5. Linguistics

Knowledge of a specific language consists of the components of its grammar, and “speakers of a given language are said to have an implicit mental grammar of its rules and lexicon or vocabulary.”[37] Regardless of race, education, income, or nationality, humans everywhere demonstrate the ability to use their native language for oral communication, and it is of secondary importance for the Implicit Curriculum whether this ability is innate or learned. A variety of premises in academic literature suggest that this implicit knowledge of language, the human language faculty, also plays a part in other forms of thought.[38]

6. Recursion

Recursion is a theoretical mechanism of the language faculty. First, it refers to the unconscious knowledge that underlies the ability of humans to generate an infinite number of expressions in their native tongue from a small set of internalized examples.[39] It also refers to the unconscious knowledge that allows humans to interpret an infinite number of expressions from others who share their language.[40] Recursion enables people to contingently construct new propositions or re-express familiar propositions contingently as called for.[41] This ability is displayed from a young age whereby children construct novel sentences with a versatility that exceeds the little they have learned.[42] The language faculty provides the individual with a sense of what is the appropriate or inappropriate linguistic response in a given set of circumstances[43] and enables humans of any education level to choose the correct order of words to express thought in their native tongue. It has been proposed that the language faculty is the medium for “general or non-domain-specific thinking that integrates the outputs of a variety of domain-specific conceptual faculties,”[44] and that it is premature to assert that recursion is used only for language.[45]

Unmasking Implicit Knowledge

Developed countries have thrived despite their overtly positivist approach to scholarly inquiry, learning, and education about the economic model. Positivism, in its basic form, holds that only objectively measurable phenomena are valuable.[46] Developed countries have paid no direct price for discounting or ignoring some introspective and intuitive aspects of the human condition in formal inquiry regarding development. This position is affordable for developed countries because they effortlessly derive from culture the essential intuitive aspects of the economic model. However, it is not affordable for the majority of humanity that does not enjoy this cultural advantage and that has endlessly suffered the misery, degradation and desperation of persistent underdevelopment as a result. So, while the Implicit Curriculum of Higher Education is consistent with established premises in academia, and its results are ultimately measurable in the real world as enduring economic development, its discovery was sparked by a leap beyond conventional boundaries.

Hence, suggesting that the language faculty and its recursive mechanism might be employed by other areas of cognition is an understatement. Here, we consider the language faculty as the most expansive and prolific form of implicit knowledge that contains the cognitive features of all other suggested types of implicit knowledge. Along with its integrative and synthesizing qualities, the productivity of the language faculty, its contingent versatility, adaptive creativity, and near absolute unconscious transparency of use are the true benchmarks of implicit knowledge in all cognitive domains. The characteristics of the language faculty are mimicked in the effective expression of the economic model seen in developed countries and among their expatriate diaspora. Coherently organizing, integrating, synthesizing, and expressing the various aspects of the economic model as development—and doing so perpetually—requires more than conscious technical knowledge. The language faculty makes up this difference.

Therefore, there is no unique or special implicit knowledge of the economic model, after all. Rather, it is the implicit knowledge of language, the language faculty, that also serves as the implicit knowledge of the economic model. Every human being that uses language already possesses implicit knowledge of the economic model. Because the economic model is a subset of the cultures of developed countries, its conception and expression are automatically and passively linked to the language faculty. For those that share the cultures of developed countries, the use of the language faculty to express the economic model is as common as the use of language itself. But the cultures of developing countries are different and they do not enjoy this cultural advantage. The economic model was imposed on developing countries and it remains distinct from the unconscious conception of culture. The economic model is not automatically connected by cultural learning to the language faculty. But that is exactly what the Implicit Curriculum does.

The use of the language faculty to express the economic model has not been obvious because it is obscured by the passage of time. We instantly hear the use of the language faculty in speech, and immediately see its use in writing. But the invention, design, and creation of technological artifacts and procedures as well as their use in the maintenance and advancement of the economic model are gradual and cumulative, often perceived as discrete events. Similarly, the acts of planning, logistics, procurement, or manufacturing have a temporal lag between conception and implementation that obscures the direct influence of the language faculty in these expressions of the economic model.[47]

The variety and extent of the elements of a language, as used by individuals, are comparable to the variety and extent of the economic model in which people live. The human compulsion to choose the correct order of words to express thought—recursion—is considered the same unconscious mechanism that drives the accurate expression of the economic model as endless innovation and economic development. Recursion is what unconsciously governs the elements of the economic model learned inside and outside the classroom to generate an infinite number of expressions labeled in the real world as effective administration, management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. It is also the mechanism that enables the effective interpretation, adoption, and propagation of scientific and technological advances within and among the developed countries and their expatriate diaspora.

Just as the use of linguistic terms, references, and conceptual structures in one’s native tongue is governed by the language faculty to contingently comprehend and express the language in a manner that makes sense to others, the content, concepts, and categories of the economic model serve as “vocabulary” for the language faculty. The use of the language faculty for oral communication is directly comparable to its use for expressing the economic model as follows.

Engaging in argument and debate are some of the ways that we use spoken language. In a verbal debate, for example, one meets with resistance or active opposition from others who have a position to defend. A debate is won through argument that will convince the opponent to allow one’s position. For the economic model, the individual defines or subscribes to business goals, institutional goals, or public policy goals, then sets out to procure and organize the resources needed to achieve them. Circumstances in the economic model that hinder the preferred organization of resources are equivalent to obstacles in oral debate. They are the points of contention with the opponent, the economic model. In both oral communication and for expressing the economic model, obstacles are overcome with the guidance of the organizing concept of the language faculty. The only difference is that while success in oral debate is measured by convincing the opposition through effective verbal argument, success in the economic model is measured by accomplishing goals in the real world. Again, use of the language faculty in this manner is not obvious due to the time lag between the conception and deployment of physical resources to meet goals in the real world.

In their duty as managers, administrators, entrepreneurs or supervisors, expatriates overcome and resolve obstacles in the economy of a developing country with the unconscious guidance of the language faculty as one might in verbal debate. In the same way that competent language users avoid or instantly correct incoherent utterances, the economic model is routinely expressed with accuracy and effectiveness in managerial and entrepreneurial capacities. The ease of doing this successfully is the primary reason why expatriates consistently meet the minimum standards of developed countries in developing countries. It is the reason why local conditions do not seem to affect the performance of expatriates, while the same conditions allegedly paralyze locals. This is why development is instinctive and inevitable for developed countries and their diaspora.

The Knowledge Tree and Developed Countries

The cognitive relationship between implicit knowledge (i.e., the language faculty) and explicit knowledge (i.e. technical knowledge) is represented in the Knowledge Tree[48] in Figure 1. Implicit knowledge is generic knowledge used for integrating knowledge about different technical areas into the economic model. So implicit knowledge, which is also the language faculty, serves as the common trunk of the Knowledge Tree. Technical knowledge of different aspects of the economic model acquired in or out of school is represented by the branches. So, the branches appear to originate from the trunk.[49] Branches are shown in abbreviated form.

Figure 1. The Knowledge Tree

For individuals who share the culture of developed countries, a cross-section of the Knowledge Tree in Figure 2 shows that technical knowledge is indeed an extension of implicit knowledge, as it appears from the outside in Figure 1. This means that the problem-solving creativity of the individual’s language faculty is firmly linked to technical knowledge and is automatically used to conceive, interpret, and express the economic model.

Figure 2. Knowledge Tree. Cross-section 1

Hence, at the fundamental level, developed economies are language-faculty-driven economies that render the economic model with the creative dynamism of language. This is a condition that was passively bestowed by culture. The term “resonance” has been used to describe this unconscious condition, whether acquired through culture or the Implicit Curriculum. Resonance is as commonplace among the populations of developed countries that share a similar culture as is the use of language.[50]

The Knowledge Tree and Developing Countries

Where culture is sufficiently different, however, the situation is not the same, even after the graduate has been exposed to standard technical knowledge of the economic model in local or Western higher education institutions. Because the student has acquired technical knowledge that can be tested in exams or in a vocation, the Knowledge Tree appears the same from the outside as in Figure 1, but the cross-section in Figure 3 shows otherwise.

Figure 3. Implicit Knowledge Gap

The cross-section in this case shows that technical knowledge is isolated from implicit knowledge. Technical knowledge about the economic model acquired in or out of school is not actually an outgrowth of implicit knowledge. In the same way that a foreign economic model was abruptly superimposed on local culture by colonialism, technical knowledge of the economic model remains separate from its implicit knowledge, and an Implicit Knowledge Gap exists as shown in Figure 3. This means that the problem-solving agility and creativity of the individual’s language faculty is not integrated with technical knowledge of the economic model. Technical knowledge is cut off and isolated from its essential implicit knowledge.

As a result, opportunities in the economic model cannot be regularly availed and pitfalls cannot be instinctively avoided. The full potential of individuals has limited outlets for problem-solving and implementing the economic model as innovation, productivity enhancement, competent management, or entrepreneurship. Instead, only the linear protocols of technical knowledge are available for problem-solving, for navigating the dynamic shifts of the economic model, and for overcoming the obstacles it may present. When technical knowledge is consistently applied in a rote manner throughout the economy without the guidance of implicit knowledge, the result is persistent underdevelopment.

The Implicit Knowledge Gap operates as a conceptual barrier—the practical manifestation of cultural difference that remains in place even after the completion of education. Merely adding branches of knowledge in school, even with the highest quality of contemporary education, fails to close the Gap. The problem-solving, linguistic creativity of the language faculty possessed by the graduate still does not govern his/her conception and expression of the economic model in the face of debate, argument and other challenges to the extent that can make development happen.[51] Instead, the multiple elements of the economic model endure like words in a static recipe of protocols that cannot be contingently improvised beyond technical boundaries. They are not part of a “vocabulary” that can be creatively organized and curated or innovatively extended and refined to solve real-world problems or to increase human comfort as well as developed countries do.

At the individual level, this means that, through no fault of their own, ambitious, motivated, and hard-working people are fundamentally limited in their expression of the economic model and in what they can achieve within it. At the aggregate level, it means that the economy is permanently starved of the managerial and entrepreneurial leadership needed to enhance and expand economic growth with the success enjoyed by the developed countries. Instead, such leadership is provided by expatriates in scarce numbers. This means that elected or unelected political leadership, and the rank and file of managers and administrators in the public and private sectors, cannot be incentivized, bullied, shamed, guilted, or threatened into making development happen. The inability to do so is an unconscious process that formal education could not affect, until now. For the same reason, dictatorship, regime change, uprisings, revolutions, and democratic elections alone are redundant for bringing about development as defined here.

Ineffective education is therefore the underlying reason why developing countries have been unable to meet the pressures of the economic model in which they are trapped. While their Western-style economies may not operate efficiently, the nature of the economic model is largely the same everywhere. The financial, institutional, and social pressures of the economic model are relatively just as strong in developing countries as in developed countries. Yet, the means for addressing these unrelenting pressures range from weak to nonexistent, thanks to the dire shortage of effective managerial leadership. This permanent mismatch between the demands of the economic model and the means for addressing them manifests as persistent poverty, corruption, poor governance, instability, and other familiar symptoms of persistent underdevelopment. These are the unavoidable symptoms of the economic model struggling to operate among individuals, institutions, and society with technical knowledge alone and not implicit knowledge. These symptoms are endemic because they have been addressed as standalone problems.

Similarities between the competent use of any human language and the effective expression of the economic model extend beyond those mentioned thus far. As explained in the details of the Implicit Curriculum, the steps for closing the implicit knowledge gap itself are like those for acquiring a second language. The steps in the Implicit Curriculum for integrating technical knowledge of the economic model with the language faculty are shown to closely mimic the steps involved in adult acquisition of a foreign language. This is the method by which the Implicit Curriculum will deliberately and more powerfully impart for developing countries learning that takes place passively for developed countries, thereby closing the Implicit Knowledge Gap.

Whistling Past ‘Higher Education for Development’

Since the end of colonialism, spending on education as a share of GDP has been increasing in developing countries.[52] Education in developing countries is financed with revenue from local taxes and the export of raw materials.[53] Funding is also provided by significant donations from abroad.[54] Efforts like these have enabled developing countries to provide higher education at home and abroad with the result that they now have large numbers of higher education graduates living and working in their midst. Nevertheless, the economies of most developing countries have yet to rise beyond tenuous, inequality-rife, and majority-poor “middle-income” status, which only a relatively few “enjoy.”

While the qualitative cause of underdevelopment has remained hidden until now, its quantitative cause is familiar but hardly mentioned as a specific problem: developing countries lack enough people to manage their Western-style economies as well as developed countries. They have not accumulated the managerial talent pool required to effectively maintain the economy or operate it for efficient growth. Worse yet, the only means of training their people to fill this managerial deficit—higher education—has not worked. Accordingly, available managerial leadership remains ineffective, and effective leadership must be supplied in scarce numbers by expatriates from developed countries. This is not to say that there are no effective indigenous managers or entrepreneurs in developing countries, just not enough to make an overall difference for development as defined here.

That is why disappointment is assured when serious inquiry or proposals about enabling development seem to take place without mention of ineffective managerial leadership, the scarcity of effective managerial talent, or consideration about how to address the problem. We submit that a government or agency cannot productively contemplate the economic prospects of a developing country or productively aim for development without an abundant and increasing supply of affordable managerial leadership that is competent. Given its wide-ranging and significant consequences in our world, it would seem that this is the singular problem that should command all available problem-solving resources.

But that is not the case. Instead, in economic development considerations, the problem has become the “elephant in the room.” The empirical record of poor managerial execution by locals is not part of the discussion, and planning takes place as if the problem does not exist, as if the plans will be well executed and goals will be met. In effect, such efforts to facilitate development are “whistling past the graveyard,” another metaphor for intending a specific outcome that is impossible because basic conditions have not been met. Internationally, this whistling has escalated to full-throated yelling in the form of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and similar grand schemes and declarations by seemingly well-meaning donor countries, multilateral agencies, and charities. Because these commitments fail to address the underlying problem—namely, the dire shortage of competent managerial leadership and the inability to fill the demand with local talent through formal education—disappointment is assured.

Blaming the Victims of Ineffective Education

From the vantage of the Implicit Curriculum, developing countries have steadfastly been doing exactly what is needed for development to have taken off decades ago and to have caught up to the West by now. They have been educating their people in large numbers, but the education is not working.

The expectations for ‘higher education for development’ are often stated most forcefully in speeches at graduation ceremonies in the context of what new graduates are supposed to accomplish in society. They usually suggest that graduates will perform as hoped in the speech. Such speeches neglect practical evidence and embrace the prevailing narrative about education. Contained in the idea of ‘higher education for development’ is the suggestion that the very first set of higher education graduates from over half a century ago should have been performing as well as expatriates. Furthermore, additional graduates after the first set should have performed just as effectively, year after year, decade after decade. Based on this, enough people now have higher education in developing countries for persistent underdevelopment to be a thing of the past everywhere on our planet. That has not happened.

Yet, despite the sacrifices they have made to educate their people and the great expectations for higher education that they apparently still hold, developing countries hardly ever protest that ‘higher education for development’ is an empty slogan. It can therefore be concluded that the abject ineffectiveness of ‘higher education for development’ is tolerated because the burden for making education work is placed on, and appears to be accepted by, developing countries. The reasoning goes like this.

It is self-evident that education in its current form works for development. After all, the developed countries are developed because of education. If education does not work for others, then something must be wrong with them or they need more education.[55]

More education is needed alright, but a different type of education. Developed countries generally have a greater percentage of higher education graduates in their working populations than developing countries.[56] This may suggest that having more people with higher education in society leads to more development. While that may be true for developed countries, it is misleading for developing countries because higher education does not, to begin with, supply the learning that could facilitate development as we define it here. It never did. Expecting otherwise with more of the same type of education is like beating a dead horse. Developing countries now have an option. They can continue to accept the blame for persistent underdevelopment, or they can place the burden of development back on education by adopting the Implicit Curriculum.

The Implicit Curriculum, and the Inclusive Theory of Change derived from it, constitute a higher-order paradigm that is proven true not by rhetoric but by results. It thereby exposes conventional explanations for persistent underdevelopment as ineffective placeholders that are premature and offensive, such as the bell curve and evolutionary psychology; determinist and condescending, such as moralistic work-ethic premises; or simply whistling past the graveyard, like economic theories. What these explanations have in common is that they do not challenge the narrative of ‘higher education for development’ in developing countries and, instead, divert attention away from ineffective education by citing causes that hold developing countries responsible. Any explanation for underdevelopment that does not address the ineffectiveness of ‘higher education for development’ is, by default, blaming people from developing countries.


  1. Samuel Odunsi, Sr., The Failure of University Education for Development and What to Teach Instead (Zaragon Books, 2016). 
  2. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Routledge Classics, 1992, 1930), 123. 
  3. Samuel Odunsi, Sr., The Failure of University Education for Development and What to Teach Instead (Zaragon Books, 2016). 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. Robert M. Solow, “A contribution to the theory of economic growth,” Quarterly Journal Of Economics (1956 Vol. 70): 65-94. 
  7. William Easterly and Ross Levine, “It’s Not Factor Accumulation: Stylized Facts and Growth Models,” The World Bank Economic Review 15, No. 2 (2001): 177-219. 
  8. Charles I. Jones, “The Facts of Economic Growth,” Stanford GSB and NBER (April 6, 2015). (
  9. Moses Abramovitz, Resource and Output Trends in the United States since 1870 (National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. 1956), 11. 
  10. World Bank. “Overview.” Accessed 16 January 2020. 
  11. World Bank, Higher Education in Developing Countries. Peril and Promise (Washington, D.C., 2000), 39-40. 
  12. Riccardo Viale and Andrea Pozzali A. “Cognitive Aspects of Tacit Knowledge and Cultural Diversity.” In: Magnani L., Li P. (eds) Model-Based Reasoning in Science, Technology, and Medicine. Studies in Computational Intelligence, 2007, vol 64. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 
  13. OECD. “AHELO Main Study.” Accessed Sep 21, 2019. 
  14. Arthur S. Reber, “Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge,” Journal of Experimental Psychology 118, No 3 (1989): 210-235. 
  15. Arthur S. Reber, “Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge,” Journal of Experimental Psychology 118, No 3 (1989): 210-235. 
  16. Nick Ellis, “Implicit and Explicit Knowledge About Language,” Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd Edition, Volume 6: Knowledge about Language, 1–13. #2008 Springer Science+Business Media LLC. 
  17. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Routledge Classics, 1992, 1930). 
  18. John A. Bargh and Ezequiel Morsella, “The Unconscious Mind,” Perspect Psychol Sci. 3(1) (2008): 73–79, 
  19. Drew Westen, “The Scientific Status of Unconscious Processes: Is Freud Really Dead?” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 47 (4) (1999): 1061–1106, 
  20. John Bargh, Social Psychology and the Unconscious. The Automaticity of Higher Mental Processes (New York: Psychology Press, 2007) 
  21. Arthur S. Reber, “Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge,” Journal of Experimental Psychology 118, No 3 (1989): 210-235. 
  22. Kenneth Craik, The Nature of Explanation (Cambridge University Press, 1943) 
  23. Philip N. Johnson-Laird, “Mental Models and Human Reasoning,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, (October 26, 2010), 
  24. Carel P. van Schaik and Judith M. Burkart, “Social learning and evolution: the cultural intelligence hypothesis,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 366 (1567) (2011): 1008-1016, 
  25. Christine H. Legare, “Cumulative Cultural Learning: Development and Diversity,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (30) (2017): 7877-7883, 
  26. Katherine MacDonald, “Cross-cultural Comparison of Learning in Human Hunting,” Human Nature 18(4) (2007): 386-402, 
  27. Samuel Odunsi, Sr., The Failure of University Education for Development and What to Teach Instead (Zaragon Books, 2016). 
  28. Arthur S. Reber,“Tacit Knowledge, Psychology of” International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Elsevier 2001): 15431-15435, 
  29. Michael Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966) 
  30. Arthur S. Reber, “Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge,” Journal of Experimental Psychology 118, No. 3 (1989): 210-235 
  31. Carol Augart Seger, “Implicit Learning,” Psychological Bulletin 115, No.2 (1994): 163-196, 
  32. Nick Ellis, “Implicit and Explicit Knowledge About Language,” Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd Edition, Volume 6: Knowledge about Language, 1–13. #2008 Springer Science+Business Media LLC. 
  33. Drew Westen, “The Scientific Status of Unconscious Processes: Is Freud Really Dead?” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 47 (4) (1999): 1061–1106, 
  34. Arthur S. Reber,“Tacit Knowledge, Psychology of” International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Elsevier 2001): 15431-15435, 
  35. Arthur S. Reber, “Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge,” Journal of Experimental Psychology 118, No. 3 (1989): 210-235. 
  36. Ibid. 
  37. William C. Ritchie and Tej K. Bhatia, “Psycholinguistics” in The Handbook of Educational Linguistics (Blackwell Publishing, 2008), 40, 
  38. Peter Carruthers, “The Cognitive Functions of Language,” (Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA, May 27, 2019). 
  39. Noam Chomsky, Language and Mind. Third Edition., Cambridge University Press, NY, 2006 
  40. Ibid. 
  41. Ibid. 
  42. Ibid. 
  43. Arthur S. Reber, “Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge,” Journal of Experimental Psychology 118, No 3 (1989): 210-235. 
  44. Peter Carruthers, “The Cognitive Functions of Language,” (Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA, May 27, 2019). 
  45. Ray Jackendoff, “What Is The Human Language Faculty? Two Views,” Center for Cognitive Studies (Tufts University, June 2011), 
  46. Herbert Feigi, “Positivism,” Encyclopaedia Britannica (Encyclopaedia Britannica. December 30, 2019), 
  47. Samuel Odunsi, Sr., The Failure of University Education for Development and What to Teach Instead (Zaragon Books, 2016). 
  48. Ibid. 
  49. Ibid. 
  50. Ibid. 
  51. Ibid. 
  52. Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina (2020) – “Financing Education”. Published online at Retrieved from: ‘’ 
  53. Paul Collier, et al., “Managing Resource Revenues in Developing Countries,” IMF Staff Papers 57, No. 1, (2010), 
  54. Chris Kardish, et al, “How do donors support global education? Findings from a deep dive on education aid.” (Oct. 24, 2017), 
  55. Samuel Odunsi, Sr., The Failure of University Education for Development and What to Teach Instead (Zaragon Books, 2016). 
  56. OECD Indicators, Education at a Glance 2019, (Paris, OECD Publishing, 2019), 40,
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