Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type



Moore School of Business

Director of Thesis

Dr. Christopher Yenkey

First Reader

Dr. Matthew Brashears

Second Reader

Dr. Matthew Brashears


Views on and approaches to sustainable economic development can differ vastly depending on country and location. Historically, in the United States, sustainable development is primarily based on the four pillars of sustainability: social, human, environmental, and economic. On the other hand, in communities in relatively collectivist societies, sustainable development policies and organizations are influenced by collective interest, cooperation, and the well-being of the community. Local development initiatives centered around promoting the well-being of the community are a way to have a more equitable approach to sustainable development and are necessary to address ecological, economic, and social challenges. I will discuss three well-being philosophies stemming from more collectivist cultures: Ubuntu in Southern Africa, Buen Vivir in Bolivia and Ecuador, and Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan. I will then contrast this with local development initiatives in the United States, specifically in South Carolina. This information will be garnered from interviews conducted with leaders of South Carolina organizations working on development projects. Finally, I will argue that incorporating community well-being into local development frameworks like those in South Carolina can make economic development processes more human-focused in the long term.

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