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Politically Correct Development Terminology


July 25, 2013

Doug Hadden, VP Products

One of the struggles for any Canadian company is to ensure politically correct terminology in all sales and marketing materials. Correctness is a Canadian obsession. (Along with the weather.) I find myself frequently with fingers poised over the “home row” of the keyboard wondering whether to call a county a “developing nation”, a “developing country”, an “emerging economy” or “fragile state.”

The problem of political correctness was a brilliant sub-theme in the British situation comedy, Yes Minister, as captured below

Many of the terms used in country development could be considered pejorative or patronizing. There is a superiority complex here in the “West”. (Or, is in the “North”, or “G8” or “developed country” or “rich”?) The corruption narrative in the press, for example, seems to paint the majority of the planet as deserving corruption and poor governance. (Perhaps this is to absolve us of lack of aid funds and perverse trade policies.)

There was a time when I didn’t use the “c-word” in presentations or blog entries. Yes, I thought that the word “corruption” was patronizing – it appeared to blame vast swaths of the public sector in developing countries with the same colour. I’ve come to see that there is more than a demand side to corruption and that the problem is very much a “North” problem as a “South.” And, I continue to encounter public sector leadership in developing countries attempting to reduce graft, collusion and bribery.

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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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