Mark Hanson
Profesors Mark Hanson and Niu Zhikui with students
Professors Mark Hanson (front center) and Niu Zhikui (back center) with students from the Department of Education, Beijing Normal University, 2007.Photo by Amparo Hanson.

A newly published book by Mark Hanson, professor emeritus at UC Riverside's Graduate School of Education, addresses the question of why some economically disadvantaged nations develop faster than others.

Hanson's initial impetus for this publication came from a 2001 UC MEXUS faculty grant whose seed goal was to discover the role maquiladoras play in the national development of Mexico. Particular emphasis was placed on learning the role played by Mexico's educational system in relation to the maquiladoras. The project grew into a more extensive, comparative study, the current results of which are included in Hanson's 2008 book, Economic Development, Education and Transnational Corporations, published by Routledge, Francis and Taylor Group. The book provides a case study comparing and contrasting two nations, Mexico and South Korea, which both shared similar levels of underdevelopment in the 1960s and which both continue to cultivate tax free/duty free industrial parks, such as maquiladoras, to attract foreign investment. Four decades later, South Korea has far surpassed Mexico in economic development and education. While Hanson concludes the reasons for this are many, one overall contributing factor is that South Korea coupled international economic attention with its national education system, using the presence of transnational corporations as an opportunity for knowledge acquisition to learn business and manufacturing practices and develop a skilled labor force. Mexico used these enterprise zones solely as a means of providing employment, never fully, as of yet, partnering corporate investment with its national educational system.

Hanson's research involved an extensive collaboration with Mexican university scholars, in particular from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Xochimilco, allowing unique insights into the public education system and the maquiladora industry. The publication is one of the first to compare the economies of Latin America and South East Asia. Hanson presented some of these findings at a binational conference in Seoul, Korea held in June 2007, with the support of a UC MEXUS small grant, and also in an earlier article, "Transnational Corporations as Educational Institutions for National Development: The Contrasting Cases of Mexico and South Korea," published in Comparative Education Review, November 2006, Vol. 50, No. 4: pp. 625-650.

(for additional information contact Louise Bachman, Reporting Analyst, UC MEXUS Grants Programs; louise.bachman@ucr.edu)