Global Values Update: Evolving Values in the 21st Century: An Integrated View

Alan Tonkin

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Alan TonkinIn considering the rapidly changing “Global Village” in which we live and the profound changes taking place in society at all levels, a key component of this change is the values mix experienced globally, as well as on a country by country basis.

The recent publication of “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World” produced by the National Intelligence Council in the United States with assistance from a variety of participants, paints a picture of both challenge and opportunity with significant uncertainties on favourable outcomes. These include the following:

Relative Certainties

  • A global multipolar system is emerging with the rapid rise of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). Other countries including Australia and South Africa are also included as part of the new G20 grouping.
  • The relative and unprecedented shift in wealth and power from East to West will continue.
  • The US will continue as the single most powerful country but with less dominance.
  • Continued economic growth with an additional 1.2 billion people by 2025 will put pressure on global energy, food and water resources.
  • The number of countries with youthful populations in the “arc of instability” across Africa and the Middle East will decrease but the populations of some of these states are projected to continue to grow rapidly.
  • The potential for conflict will increase in parts of the Middle East and South East Asia with a continuing spread of lethal capabilities.
  • Terrorism is not likely to disappear by 2025 but it could decrease if unemployment is reduced in the Middle East, particularly for the youth. However, for terrorist groups that are active, the diffusion of technologies will put dangerous capabilities within their reach.

Key Uncertainties

  • Whether an energy transition away from oil and gas is completed by 2025. This includes the use of alternative fuels and clean technologies.
  • How quickly climate change occurs and where its impact is greatest.
  • Whether regional protectionism increases with a number of trading blocks emerging to challenge global trade agreements.
  • Whether advances towards democracy occur in both China and Russia.
  • Whether regional fears of a nuclear Iran promote an arms race in the Middle East.
  • Whether the Middle East stabilises, particularly Iraq and with a lasting solution in Israel and Palestine.
  • Whether Europe and Japan overcome economic and social challenges that are compounded by their demography.
  • Whether the global powers are capable of transforming the existing global institutions in order to reflect the transformed geopolitical landscape.

All of the above are issues which link back directly to differing worldviews held by individual nations and regional groupings. Although it is popular to speak about “values” what does this mean and how can it be factored into the overall equation?

How to Identify Differing Values Profiles

Values are often the “missing link” in providing a strategic solution to key issues including those listed above. In considering this issue, there is clear historical evidence to show how countries move through the various stages of development in both their political and economic systems.

The graphic shown below shows how both individuals and societies move from the Collective values of tribal, power and hard work to Individual values of wealth creation and self-achievement. Using Europe as an example this shows the progress from the 1800’s to the present time. Equally, the Asian Tigers of Japan, China and South Korea are now moving along the scale in a similar way.

figure 1

The current global financial crises illustrate the interdependence of the global economy and how disruptions in the banking system spread like a virus around the world. Equally, the oil crises and the need to resolve the issue of clean energy in order to reduce global warming are also key issues that extend across borders.

The natural progression through the values spectrum provides differing structures in both politics and the type of governance system required. Countries in both the developing and developed world move through the following values structures:

Collective Values:

Tribal: Much of Africa as well as countries in the Middle East such as Afghanistan, the tribal areas of Pakistan and Central Asia fall in the “arc of instability.”
The tribal structure is generally against any central government and rather encourages action for the benefit of the members of the particular tribe or group.

Power: The move away from Tribal values often results in the emergence of dictators and warlords. Here the “chief” is replaced by the dictator/warlord as has been the case in many parts of Africa including the DRC and Zimbabwe. Countries with this value as the “centre of gravity” generally also fall into the “arc of instability.”

Stability & Order: As countries increasingly move into this value system, developing countries such as China and Russia consolidate their economic and political systems. It is however, a system where collective rather than individual values are the ones receiving the attention of the ruling party. This stage of development still has strong leaders, but ones who are aware and focussed of the broader needs of the population as a whole and with centralised government control of the economy.

Individual Values:

Enterprise: Free market economies such as the United States and United Kingdom operate from this worldview. However, unbridled enterprise with more relaxed regulations partly assisted in creating the current global financial crisis. It is the first value system where the role of the individual is seen as central to the further development of the country. This is a pragmatic system that believes strongly in the “free market” rather than big government as in the previous system.

Environmental & Ecological: This worldview is reflected in the worldview of the more developed members of the European Union such as the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. This is also an individual system that is less pragmatic than the enterprise system and allows for individual freedoms, sometimes at the expense of the further positive development of the country/region as a whole.

Integrative Values:

Integral: The approach of “integrated action” is only now starting to emerge at the global level. This results in the overall understanding of the integration of all of the above values in order to build a stronger integrated approach to global issues, rather than these being tackled piecemeal. This values system is only now starting to emerge in the 21st Century in a really meaningful way.

It is important to note that the profile at each values position (see graphic above) indicates a clear mix of a number of systems including the dominant one. This equally applies to individuals, organisations and countries. It also shows the move from one level of complexity to the next and tracks countries as they move along the values scale.

How Can the Values Approach Be Applied?

It is interesting to note that the “values approach” is strongly supported, not only by studies such as Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World but also in other well documented studies including the work of Thomas P. M. Barnett around the issue of conflict in the 21st Century.” In his books The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century and Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating he outlines similar views on possible future developments in this century.

Barnett uses the terms “Functioning Core” for the developed economies and “Gap” as those states that still fall in the Tribal and Power values systems. He also calls those states that border on the Gap as being on the fringe between the two systems. These countries are generally those transitioning towards the Functioning Gap with strong elements of order as well as Enterprise values. Generally the BRIC countries as well as South Africa and a number of other emerging economies can be placed in this category. These countries often exhibit the full values range from Tribal to Enterprise as part of their national values mix and identity.

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Emerging economies normally have a twin values bulge with a strong “Developing World” component as well as a strong emerging “Developed World” market economy. Graphic by Dr. D.E. Beck.

It is relatively easy to identify values movements by using the “Global Values Monitor” which is based on a short and simple questionnaire. This was developed by the GVN Group in conjunction with Dr. Don Beck who developed the Spiral Dynamics integral (SDi) values approach and is based on a series of questions that identifies the values mix of a particular organisation, community or country which is then plotted on a “values map” by colour similar to a contour map.

GVN WorldSCAN values technology has been used extensively around the world with great success. This ranges from local communities to business organisations as well as political leaders. The challenge of the first decade or so of 21st Century is to be able to translate these individual successes to a large scale global effort covering all countries and regions.

The instrument is accessed via an electronic database and provides immediate results for the client organisation via the GVN database. The data can also be collected on a palmtop computer such as the HP iPaq with the data being transferred on return to the office. This approach works particularly well in developing economies where the majority of the population are rural people with no or limited Internet access. The data is then collected using skilled interviewers using the local language in order to collect the basic data. At the same time those who have Internet access can input the data in the normal way using their own computers.

GVN WorldSCAN – Some Examples of Regions Values Profiles

A recent example of some regional profiles is shown in the graphic below:

figure 3

Some Concluding Comments

In considering the above graphic one is able to identify the areas of difference between the developed and developing sets of values. These findings are also confirmed in the Failed States Index of 2008 by (see below).

The “Arc of Uncertainty” – Failed States

This stretches from Venezuela and parts of the Caribbean including Cuba and Haiti through much of Africa including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. The arc continues through to the Middle East plus Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. It also includes a number of the states previously incorporated in the old USSR plus parts of South East Asia including Burma, the Philippines and Indonesia. It should also be noted that these countries cover the majority of the global land mass.

The Emerging Fringe States

These include emerging economies including some Eastern European states looking for EU membership, parts of BRIC and South Africa. These countries are playing a significant role in stabilising the world and advancing “core values.” India as the worlds largest democracy is an example of an emerging Fringe to Core state and the spread of values in India are indicated in Annexure A.

The Developed Core States

These include the countries of the developed world including North America (both the US & Canada), the UK and EU, Japan, China, South Korea and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand). For an example of this position see Annexure B for a closer look at Australia by values mix.

Emerging values are an ever moving and dynamic target and the core states mentioned above have taken centuries to reach this relatively advanced level. Given the global spread of technology and communication it is likely that many of the emerging nations can shorten the timeline of this process. However, there is no guarantee that this will be either a quick or neat process. Change is highly uncertain and there are significant variables that exist globally at any moment in history.

What is clear is that there is a direct link between the issue of values and the other research quoted in this article including the example we introduced at the start of this article Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. At the GVN we believe that there is conclusive evidence to prove this is the critical link to fully understanding what is currently taking place in the “Global Village.”

In concluding, we believe that the new evolving global leadership style needs to take the “Long View” on Western style democracy and rather focus on the appropriate model of governance for each society. Developing nations need to be encouraged to move at a pace they are able to sustain as their values evolve. This should approach should also be applied to global institutions as they change over time with countries assuming more and more responsibility as their values move on the values spectrum.

Two Examples of Differing Values Profiles

In considering the differences between Core and Fringe states we will use two countries in the Asia Pacific region, India and Australia, as prime examples of how the values mix varies.

Annexure A

An Emerging Fringe to Core State: India and its Values Mix

India is the world largest democracy with a population of over 1.1 billion. It is also one of the rapidly emerging economies in the Asia Pacific region though it has a variety of tribal and class groupings as well as different religions with over 80% being Hindu. The remaining population are Muslims with mainly small percentages of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and others. It has a World GNP ranking of 11th overall with GNP per capita at a low US $470 compared to China at US $ 960 in the same period.

The broad values mix in India breaks down as follows:

Tribal:The Indian part of Kashmir is very tribal and in many ways is similar to that on the Pakistan side of the border. Both India and Pakistan are attempting to resolve this issue though there is significant support in Kashmir for independence from both of these countries.

Power: Although India is the worlds largest democracy the central government often lacks the resources and capabilities to manage issues at both the national and state level. There are also issues of local vested interests at this level. In addition, there are often local bureaucratic and power issues to moving forward as speedily as required as well as issues of inefficiency and corruption.

Order: There is a strong element of this value in India with its democratic values and support for the law. However, Indian democracy is often seen to be weak due to the fact that no one political party holds sufficient political power to resolve some of the key issues currently facing the country. Political trade-offs often hinder good governance and efficiency in decision making. This is reflected in the relative performance of the Chinese and Indian economies and the issues facing Indian politicians that are often different and more complex than those in China.

Enterprise: Indian enterprise is well established and there are an ever-increasing numbers of globally successful Indian firms. These include the Tata Group, Mittal Steel as well as the “Bollywood” film industry that is larger than Hollywood in both size and the number of films produced each year.

Ecological & Environmental: India still has much to achieve in this area. However, there are signs that environmental and ecological issues are now being looked at more seriously than in the past.

Following the recent terrorist incidents in Mumbai it is difficult to say with certainty how the issue of “Global Terrorism” will hinder India’s forward momentum in the 21st Century. However, there is little doubt that the latest incidents in Mumbai are going to cause a serious rethink in both New Delhi and elsewhere in the region.

India is a rapidly growing economy with tremendous potential and is likely to be one of the key players in the global economy by 2025. This is reinforced by the growing influence and spread of Indian business internationally with top Indian business people now believing they can take on the global competition is their own industries.

Annexure B

A Core Developed State: An Australia Values Perspective

Australia is seen very much as a developed Core state and has built a strong modern economy, particularly since the early 1950’s. Due to its historical links to Britain, particularly through Commonwealth immigration, these links are close, though immigration trends now reflect a wider global spread, particularly from the wider Asia Pacific region. Australia also has a very efficient immigration policy with credits being awarded for educational attainment, skills and other related aspects.

Australia has a World GNP Ranking of 14th overall with GNP per capita being US $ 19,530. This compared to the US figure of US $ 35,400 IN 1st position.

In considering Australia as a specific case study it is interesting to note that its history and people have produced a unique values mix in that country. These include:

Tribal: The aborigine people are the original inhabitants of the continent and still preserve many of the Tribal rituals that are valued in the community. This, however, carries a very small percentage of influence in modern day Australia.

Power: Many of the original settlers were those who were often convicted of minor crimes in Britain and exiled to Australia in the 1800’s. There were also criminals who had committed serious crimes and were sent to serve time in Australian prisons. This maverick value has been retained in Australia’s cultural and sporting approach where success is highly valued.

Order: Those running the new colony in Australia were charged with maintaining “law and order” and thus set a base for this value in Australia. Over time this resulted in Australian institutions becoming very strong, including the trades unions. As in the US many Australians are still fairly conservative, which is reflected in this values system.

Enterprise: Australia has over the centuries developed into a country with its own unique philosophy and culture. Due to its geographical remoteness from Europe and North America it developed a strong culture of enterprise and innovation. This is the core value in the country with many Australian businesses and business leaders having been globally successful over many decades.

Ecological & Environmental: The latest move in Australia is towards a greener more environmentally friendly approach. This has resulted in the emergence of many innovations towards a “greener future” leading into the 21st Century.

Australia can in many ways be compared to the United States in global values terms. The people are fiercely proud, independent and innovative and are seen in values terms to have the majority of their “core values” in the Blue Order, Orange Enterprise range. However, Integral thinking is also increasingly making itself felt both in the region and globally.

Australia is currently strongly repositioning itself as part of the emerging Asian Pacific grouping including China, India, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea as well as with the developed “Core” of the US and Canada.

Alan Tonkin
St Francis Bay, South Africa
December 2, 2008

Note: This article was specially produced for the Integral Leadership Review edition of January, 2009. The primary focus of the article is to provide clear benchmarks on how values directly influence the development of nations. For more detailed information contact us at or visit our website