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With President Trump in power, the United States may have entered a new era of familial tribalism, a style of governing that could best be depicted as a sudden disruption to the traditional democratic governance and merited mobility the United States has historically promoted both at home and abroad. With this form of familial tribalism, a new level of power has been given to the members of the First Family, resulting in the United States increasingly mirroring the modus operandi of many developing countries that it had formerly criticized for their own lack of ethics, transparency, and competence amongst the governing elites. Ironically, the U.S. can now learn about the impact of familial tribalism on society and particularly on higher education from those very countries it has tried to reform in the past.

Bosnia is one of those countries, where familial and social relations matter and where people are known to seek connections even to secure a spot in a graveyard. Bosnia’s widespread corruption amongst the elites in government stalled its post-war recovery in the late 1990s, eventually seeping into the country’s higher education system. When elites signal that they value belonging and loyalty to their own group over competence and skill, the consequences, as Bosnia shows, are profound. Today, Bosnia is a country marked by the world’s highest youth unemployment rate of 67.6% and a continuous brain drain, where the most educated citizens leave for more attractive opportunities abroad. Examining the effects of familial tribalism on Bosnia, particularly in higher education, provides a warning for those worried about the imprint that a developing familial tribalism in the United States will make on the U.S. itself and the rest of the world.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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