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government exists; but the over-all incidence of such forms is rather slight and is not connected with any particular type of production. Furthermore, contractual organizations do not appear in situations for which they are not technologically better adapted than other forms. Centralized government, it appears, simply provides a context within which contractual organization is possible because of the political stability. On the other hand, centralized government provides a direct basis for custodial organization. Additional conditions are evidently necessary for contractual organization.

These findings indicate, then, that settled agriculture and centralized government in nonindustrial societies are likely to set in motion institutional forces that militate against territorial recruitment, specificity, and achievement in production organization. The functions of voluntary organizations appear to be assumed by custodial types, and the development of contractual forms appears to be inhibited.


While forms of production organization typical of industrialism are by no means absent in nonindustrial contexts, they are not likely to dominate the particular types of society now on the eve of industrialization. Of the four major types of nonindustrial production organization-familial, custodial, contractual, and voluntary-the latter two are closest to industrial requirements. Voluntary organizations, however, tend to be absent in societies with centralized government and settled agriculture, and so drop out of practical consideration as possible models for industrial commitment. Contractual organizations, on the other hand, appear to depend in part on the condition of centralized government.

Centralized government as defined for this analysis, however, does not in itself involve any mechanism directly conducive to contractual forms. In contrast, it provides a direct basis for custodial organization, through consolidated control over resources. It thus appears that, under conditions of settled agriculture and this type of government, custodial organization is more likely to develop on a large scale than is contractual. In fact custodial forms tend to be generalized to any situation, regardless of their technical suitability. Inasmuch as they involve social recruitment, ascription, and diffuseness, they appear in direct opposition to industrial development.

The major locus of this latent opposition to industrialism seems to

lie in the political system, either directly or as reflected through social stratification. At the same time, centralized government appears necessary for the ultimate development of contractual forms and is certainly essential to industrialism. It is thus not surprising that many newly developing areas that are in fact developing successfully are characterized by political unrest. The analysis suggests that at some point of development a choice may have to be made between assured political stability, on the one hand, and effective industrialization measures, on the other. If the industrialization measures undermine the political structure too severely, the industrialization effort may collapse. The shift from custodial to contractual bases of organizational commitment thus emerges as a rather crucial test for newly developing areas.



Cyril S. Belshaw

This paper is not concerned with the industrial psychology that the management of large firms in developing countries may use to keep their employees working and happy. It is doubtful that enough studies of this subject have been made to permit us to draw very clear conclusions, although there is considerable interest in current studies of such enterprises as the larger Japanese industries, the Indian cotton factories, and the Middle East oil companies. Furthermore, the emphasis here is on newly developing areas, which almost by definition implies a lack of either large capitalist or state enterprises. How, then, can we speak of personnel policies at all?

By "policy" in this context we mean the principles that apply to the actions of persons in authority; and the relevant aspect of policy deals with the use of labor ("personnel"). The newly developing areas considered in this paper are units of state operation (countries, colonies) that have important sectors (a) entering the world market for the first time or (b) changing from a stationary economy to one characterized by increases in per capita production or consumption. The number and scope of units of organization corresponding to our Western idea of the firm are increasing rapidly in such areas; yet the existence of conventional firms cannot be assumed as a prior or necessary condition of growth. In theory at least, and in some cases in fact, organizations that mobilize labor in modified traditional ways can be responsible for entry into a world market or for an expansion of the volume of production. When we bring small entrepreneurs, homestead units, and village cooperatives into our purview the topic under examination is broadened. It can be rephrased as "the ways in which persons wishing to use labor devise means of obtaining a supply, or rewarding it, and of using it productively, with special reference to the influence of modified traditional institutions upon their decisions." 1

1 Cf. Cyril S. Belshaw, Changing Melanesia: Social Economics of Culture Contact (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1954), Chapter 10.


The Static Model

Let us assume, first, the existence of a small community isolated from the world market, in a stationary economy. This implies a stationary culture, since it can be demonstrated that alterations in cultural values and forms involve adjustments in the use of resources (including time, knowledge, and organization) and in the ways in which they are related to goals. Let us assume that society and culture are "traditional," a term we shall use arbitrarily, indicating that exchange and political control are based on considerations of social structure rather than on an impersonal market and legislation. Also, the culture is relatively homogeneous rather than large scale and heterogeneous: although deviance is possible and conflict or culturally prescribed competition may be of great significance, the range of behavior that the people perceive to be possible is severely limited. In such a society acts of the same kind will be repeated indefinitely, and the supply of labor will develop in the same way and in response to the same motivations.

In a strict sense the stationary economic state is not found in the real world, and the analysis of its model is uninteresting. Aboriginal societies are often characterized as stationary, but they are so only in a special and relative sense and do not correspond to the model. A full list of sources of disturbance is not needed here; one only has to think of warfare, demographic change, physical cataclysms, power shifts between rival groups, or variations in health and hunting luck, for each such factor is a source of adjustment and change. We can no longer assume that religious practice is customary in the sense of unchanging: there is now considerable evidence of experimental, thoughtful, and dramatic alteration in cults, mythology, ritual and the like, all of which must have repercussions in the culture involving modified ways of using time and other resources.2

Theories of Sequential Change

Leach, in his account of Highland Burma,3 has suggested that it is sometimes possible for one set of social institutions, A, to contain within

2 Melanesian rituals may be interpreted in this manner, and syncretist religious movements such as cargo cult are frequently the expression of experiments with the supernatural. For the impact of such religious change, see P. M. Worsley, The Trumpet Shall Sound (London: McGibbon and Kee, 1957).

8 Edmund R. Leach, Political Systems of Highland Burma (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1954).

themselves determining factors which direct change, when it comes, to a contrary set of social institutions, B; and as B is the obverse of A, it too contains factors that lead back to A. Such cyclical equilibrium must be extremely rare in history, since its continuance would depend upon the isolation of the system from the disrupting factors mentioned above. Similarly, the beautiful self-contained marriage exchange models erected by Lévi-Strauss and others and even Malinowski's account of the ceremonial exchange rings of the Trobriand Islands 5 imply that regulated systematic adjustment between persons in a defined spatial and social relation cannot persist unless the institutions involved are insulated from the sources of change. This may be done by deliberate protection or by devices that permit change to be absorbed elsewhere in the culture. Both considerations suggest that cyclical or continuous models cannot apply to total economies.


Older theories of social evolution suggested that when change is initiated A must tend to become B, which then must tend to become C, and that human progress is summed up in the series A, B, C . . ., which could never become A, F, X, G. . . Such theories have been thoroughly discredited, but recently Steward has given technical support to a theory of multilinear evolution, which permits A to become B, C, or D, depending upon the factors of change, but not to become E, F, or G (though, in time, B may reverse to become A again). This looks a little better, since our supposition that the second stage in change must bear some relationship to the first is supported, while greater flexibility is introduced. But even this is not enough. What happens to A depends on numerous factors that are beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice it to say that A is composed of a large number of parts (institutions, beliefs, techniques, resources, etc.). Factors of change are also numerous and of varying influence. Each factor will affect each part differently; the number of parts affected will vary; and the ramifying effects of a change in one part upon another part will also be variable. Even at the simple level of numbers of parts affected, the possibilities are little short of infinite, even were we to exclude (as we must) many changes as logically impossible. We cannot assume historically that A will become B,

4 C. Lévi-Strauss, Les Structures Elementaires de la Parente (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1949).

5 B. Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific (London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1922).

• Julian Steward, Theory of Culture Change (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1955).

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