The idea of effective managerial ability brings to mind formal conceptions like decision making, problem-solving, planning, and other so-called soft skills. It’s also assumed that these skills can be imparted or acquired in formal settings like higher education or in MBA programs.
But while formal conceptions of managerial ability may apply to developed countries, they do not apply to developing countries because they are incomplete. The evidence is the existence of persistent underdevelopment despite ever-increasing higher education attainment in these countries.
Here, we define effective managerial or administrative ability as the expression of the economic model with the ability already used by humans to express and interpret spoken language. Not just English or French or Spanish or Portuguese, but any spoken language.
As mentioned, the economic model that’s in effect in our world began with the Industrial Revolution which originated in 18th century Europe. But the Industrial Revolution was a lot more than technology. It was also a wholesale repurposing of the human language ability to command technology.
The developed countries achieve this repurposing passively with zero deliberate effort because the economic model of the Industrial Revolution has become a subset of their cultures. But developing countries do not enjoy this cultural advantage. The economic model was imposed by colonialism and remains external to local culture.
If the connection between the economic model and language ability is the “cake”, then formal managerial training or higher education is merely icing on the cake. The icing is not essential for consistently expressing and maintaining the economic model with competence. That is why the West could surpass its rivals and dominate the world long before higher education became commonplace and before the MBA was invented. For the West, the cake existed before icing was supplied by higher education.
For developing countries there was no cake, to begin with. So, formal managerial training or higher education—the icing—has generally not been effective.
However, all human societies have language. So, all societies already possess the basic requirement for managerial effectiveness. Our solution for underdevelopment, the Implicit Curriculum, systematically connects the economic model imposed by colonialism to the existing language ability of students. The way it works is consistent with linguistic principles.
A major premise in the study of linguistics, as presented by Noam Chomsky, is that the ability of people to use language is separate from the language they end up speaking, and that people are born with the capability to learn any language.1 Chomsky referred to this capability as the language faculty. The language faculty is what supplies the contingent and creative versatility that children use to express and interpret their native tongue with competence far in excess of the input they receive. The language faculty is also what makes it possible for the individual to learn a second or third language and so forth.
Linguist Stephen Krashen has argued that a second or foreign language is learned in a manner similar to how children acquire their first language.2 This suggests that a second language is acquired when its elements and concepts become integrated with the language faculty. Without integration, the language will remain a list of words or static protocols like a poem or verse. The individual’s language faculty will not be available to organize the foreign language for accurate expression or interpretation.
Likewise, proficiency or fluency in the economic model means that the elements and concepts of the model are integrated with the logic, coherence, and hygiene of the language faculty. Integration is what allows developed countries to contingently express the economic model with creative effectiveness on a routine basis. This integration is acquired by developed countries and their diaspora through unknown cultural mechanisms. Higher education evolved in the West based on this existing cultural integration that was not even recognized until now. But because cultures are different, this integration does not pre-exist for developing countries. As a result, developing countries have only technical knowledge to interpret and express the technical knowledge of the economic model. This is similar to following instructions on a static list of instructions with little room to adapt it to contingencies in the real world. That is why effective managerial ability is in short supply.
What the Implicit Curriculum does is provide the student with enough information to connect technical knowledge to the language faculty in the same way that a second language is acquired. No existing conventional training has enough volume or variety or analyses of information to do that.
Yet, due to the success of developed countries, the claims of higher education suggest that it makes this connection in students from any country. That in turn suggests that developing countries are somehow responsible for the ineffectiveness of higher education for managerial leadership. In reality, nothing is wrong with people from developing countries and they’re not responsible for underdevelopment. Higher education simply does not know how to do what it claims because it never had to do it for developed countries.
Plato’s Problem Revisited
Noam Chomsky also explained the poverty of the stimulus in the terms of Plato, the philosopher of ancient Greece. Plato argued and demonstrated that humans seem to know more than they have specifically learned. Chomsky called this observation “Plato’s Problem.” The following is the relevance of Plato’s Problem to the problem of underdevelopment.
Human beings have a relatively short lifespan and individuals don’t live long enough to learn everything about their economy. Yet in developed countries, each generation not only maintains its economic inheritance, but each generation also improves upon it and extends it with productivity enhancement, new discoveries, and other forms of innovation in both the private and public sectors. All of this takes place like clockwork generation after generation.
In contrast, postcolonial countries are unable to maintain their economic inheritance much less improve upon it. Instead, deterioration of colonial inheritance or stagnation has been the norm and it could have been worse without the managerial leadership of expatriates and their diaspora.
In developed countries, the language faculty is what empowers each generation to use the little they have learned for maintaining their inheritance and improving it without specifically learning everything. Such accomplishment by each generation is not possible with technical knowledge alone, which is all that higher education has to offer developing countries, despite loud claims to the contrary.