Opportunist bias in public discussion and research on development
Conceptions of underdevelopment, development and development planning as presented in most of the scientific and popular economic literature and in the plans of developing countries is heavily biased in a direction that is basically opportunistic. Policy conclusions are therefore founded upon ideas about reality that are systematically though unintentionally falsified. Studies are expected to reach opportune conclusions and to appear in a form that is regarded as advantageous, or at least not disadvantageous, to national interests as these are officially and popularly understood, (for example in terms of the political and military interest in saving the country in question from domination by another ideological bloc). Research also tends to become diplomatic, conciliatory and generally over-optimistic, by-passing facts (such as the effect of corruption) that raise awkward problems, concealing them in an unduly technical terminology, or treating them in an excusing, condescending way. A more fundamental deficiency is that the approach to development problems derives from the attitudes and institutions in the developing countries and assumes that models and methods applicable to developed countries are universally valid. Whereas purely economic models may be adequate to developed countries, the attitudes and institutions in developing countries are less permissive of development and are much more rigid. These factors are not taken into account by the great majority who are involved in the problems of development (whether as students, in politics or in practice) who have a vested interest in the more conventional approach.
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