Publication Date



Helms School of Government


Government: Politics and Policy


values, nations, national development, values thesis, geographic thesis, geography, institutions thesis, government, cultural thesis, determinism, Europe, Glorious Revolution, Meiji, Japan, Botswana, England, Grudem, Asmus, Acemoglu, Robinson, Diamond, Landes, de Soto, Friedman, Thornton, Ferguson, free market, rule-of-law, rule of law, capital, comparative advantage


Comparative Politics | Models and Methods


The values of a nation are vital for forming the institutions that govern a people and for guiding public policies. This thesis examines the historical institutions and political cultures of several nations and compares them to their geographic (i.e. continental) contemporaries. Particular emphasis is devoted to case-studies of Industrial Revolution Britain, Meiji Restoration Japan, Independent Botswana, and Post-war Asia. This thesis demonstrates a correlation between such institutions as free markets, limited government, and protected personal liberties, with national prosperity. Most importantly, the formation of these institutions was directly affected by the values of the individuals that established them. Values, both cultural and institutional, are the key factors that enable nations to experience material prosperity and technological innovation. In the modern world, geography is no longer, if it ever was, the primary determinative factor in a nation’s development. This thesis demonstrates, through comparison of geographic contemporaries, that values have always been the primary agent of national development.