Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

The Often Misunderstood Dynamics of Global Change

Alan Tonkin
11 July 2007

Alan Tonkin is Chairman of the Global Values Network Group whose web site is one of the most advanced in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at both national, international and even global levels.

Alan generously allowed this piece, written for his site’s NewsBRIEF, to be published here.


In considering the dynamics of change in our globalised world, these issues are most often looked at from the perspective of the worldview of the individual or organisation. This is inevitable but the missing component in this is often the aspect of critical mass.

This issue of critical values mass is one that too often observers and commentators alike do not take sufficient account of. It is important to remember that close to 80% of the global population occupy the values through BEIGE ‘Survival’ to BLUE ‘Stability and Order’. In addition, the bulk of this percentage or 55% of the total occupy the RED ‘Power Now’ (24%) and BLUE ‘Order and Stability’ (31%) areas. (See QuickSCAN at the Global Values Network site for more details.)

In looking at areas of conflict around the globe, the above ‘values dynamics’ are often overlooked. Developing countries share many of the stresses not found in the developed world and insisting that ‘Western Democracy’ should be the model used is often naïve and unrealistic. The challenge in effecting change is to allow the mass of the population to move from one level of development to the next in the most natural and integrative way.

Some ‘real world’ examples
One of the major reasons why South Africa was able to move forward in the late 80s and early 90s was that the leadership of both the ANC under Nelson Mandela and National Party Government under F W de Klerk realised that the only way forward was to agree a system that would receive the support of both camps. This is the element that is too often missing from other regions where change is required but where the leadership of the various factions are often far apart in values terms.

The Middle East is a case in point where, from Israel/Palestine to Iraq, the various factions often have totally different values and, therefore, very different agendas. A good example is in the latest open letter being circulated by the Centre for Human Emergence in Palestine and Israel where it is written from an ORANGE/GREEN perspective. One would query the critical mass of current support for the authors of the letter how ever worthwhile and noble their intentions are.

Israel and the wider global community may now have an opportunity to open negotiations between the Israeli Government (ORANGE/BLUE) and the Palestinian Authority (BLUE). However, it would appear that the possibility of opening discussions at this stage with Hamas (RED/BLUE) are almost impossible while this organisation persists in its current stand on the future of Israel. There will need to be a fundamental shift in values by Hamas to positive BLUE for this to even start to happen.

In Iraq it is a question of bringing agreement across a full range of values from PURPLE (Tribal) through to BLUE/ORANGE to the same table. Given the history of the country over the last 50 years, this is a long term project requiring significant assistance from the outside world. However, here one should question the current ability of the Iraqi politicians to be able to agree on a superordinate goal of ‘Nation Building’ as quoted in the South African example.

Even in South Africa today there is a major battle going on for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the majority of the population by various factions. Many of these target groupings are in the PURPLE to BLUE values range and if the country is to continue to grow and prosper then it is critical that those PURPLE/RED values move more into the BLUE/ORANGE range.

Some conclusions on developmental stages
In looking at how the developed nations perceive the world it is absolutely critical that there is an understanding of the dynamics described above. This equally applies to countries like Russia, China and India where the economies are restructuring and need significant BLUE stability in order to maintain the required agenda for positive and meaningful change. Change of this type needs to happen in a politically stable environment for it to be sustained.

In concluding this short NewsBRIEF, it is important that readers understand that most countries are capable of moving through the various values levels. However, where some countries are in the BLUE/ORANGE/GREEN range, many others are still in the RED/BLUE/ORANGE phase. We need to understand the differences and assist in facilitating the process rather than criticising these developing countries from the perspective of our own worldview.


Verification Captcha (human, not robot!) * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.