In this interview series, the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity Initiative turns the spotlights on their newest member. We learn more about their research projects, their link with inclusive prosperity and their long term goals. This edition features Kees Krul, who recently joined the initiative as a postdoctoral researcher and focuses on inclusive economic growth in Asia.
What is your project about?
My project is about inclusive economic growth in Asia. A key question that I will be working on is: How can we catalyze a more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable transition in Asia? Having lived in various Asian countries – including Korea, China and Singapore – I see a major theoretical challenge in appreciating the specific ‘Asian characteristics’ that have enabled unique developmental paths in Asia. Examples are Confucianism, neomercantilism, and state-society relations that are radically different from the West. In my project I intend to better comprehend these characteristics and organize them into an analytical framework that can be used for companies, governments, and civil society organizations to set change in motion!
In what way is your research project contributing to inclusive prosperity?
For me, inclusive prosperity is about looking at wealth from a deeper level. In the hiphop song ‘How Much a Dollar Cost’, Kendrick Lamar tells the story of his encounter with a homeless man at a gas station in South Africa. Initially, Kendrick ignores the man and feels resentment as the man continues to berate him. Later in the song, however, the man reveals himself to be God and Kendrick’s selfishness and unwillingness to give the man a dollar cost him his place in Heaven. It is evident to me that the pursuit of maximizing dollars by global corporations comes at considerable costs – environmental but also in the depletion of our social fabric. Capitalism in its current form is not sustainable. In my project I seek to find new metrics beyond mere financial indicators that can guide businesses to “do better” on principles of mutuality. Like in Kendrick’s song, if we are aware of the true costs of our behavior, I believe we will change it and move towards more inclusive approaches to wealth and prosperity.
What is the added value in doing your research at the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity Initiative?
In my project I will draw from different research fields including public administration, law, business studies, and institutional economics. To be surrounded by a very diverse research team with experts in management, law and philosophy is thus of great value. Another aspect I like about the Initiative is that it actively seeks to make an impact in society, rather than scientific impact alone. I’m also very excited to be working again with Martin de Jong, who I still know from my time at Delft University of Technology.
What are your plans for your time at the initiative?
The fun part about my project is that there are lot of different organizations involved. Besides DoIP, there are also my project partners with Hanyang University, the Asia Foundation, and the Economics of Mutuality Foundation (EoM). Because of this, I will move to South Korea this September and stay there for a year. Until then, I will spend my time at the Initiative to read relevant literature and prepare for my fieldwork. I have already claimed my spot in the resource room in the Mandeville building, so if you ever walk by, please come by for a coffee!