I think the best approach to describe this phenomenon is to see it as a change from relational-oriented economics of poor countries (developing countries) to transactional-oriented economics of developed countries. The first is governed by uncertainty: the good’s value is what the customer is willing to pay, it difficult for the seller to calculate all the costs involved in selling the good, and without specialization there is no knowledge to calculate how much of items must be sold for price X to reach the certain profitability.
Lets imagine a street seller of bottled water in a developing country. The price of a bottled water will not be fixed, if his business activity has too many unknown factors. Perhaps he knows the price per unit at which he bought a bottled water, but there are more factors he has to consider. For example,
- Will the deliveries of bottled water from the manufacturer reoccur in the future?
- Is the bottled water delivered in a timely fashion?
- Does he have a sure mean of transportation to get to or back from the street where he sells his product?
- Can he be sure that no one will take his ‘spot’ on the street, or his market position in general?
- Can he be certain about the quality of the bottled water?
- Can he trust the law enforcement if someone steals his yield?
With development of institutions and with specialization, the participants of the market are more interested in transactions (to get the job done) rather in having a good relationship with the supplier, truck driver or law enforcer. Thus,
- they can calculate their cost,
- they can enter into a contract for week-to-week supply of goods and be sure that the product will be delivered on time (right before the shop opens and in the quantity they will be able to store and sell),
- they have some accountancy proficiency to keep track of turnover and marginal costs.
This enables to calculate profitability of the business give the price of a certain level. If you don’t agree with the price you will not buy the product, which is fine with the seller, because he thinks in the long-run and he may adjust in the price in the future to meet certain profitability.
I couldn’t find any of the articles I had in mind when writing this answer, but this quote form 'East Meets West: Civilizational Encounters and the Spirit of Capitalism in East Asia', 2007, summarizes the issue quite well.
If transactional rationality follows neo-Darwinism and natural law, it
may be deducted that the natural selection process will eventually
favor transactional rationality over relational rationality. Indeed,
many examples and studies demonstrating the relational imperative of
exchanges, especially from anthoropological studies, drew on data and
observations from ancient or primitive societies. It has been
suggested that emphasis on interpersonal relationship reflects the
nature of communities that are more homogeneous, less technologically
developed, and less industrially developed, and where rituals,
ascription, and emotion define exchanges. As a society develops
technologically and industrially and becomes more diverse in skills,
knowledge and production, division of labor requires more rational
allocation of resources, including the increasing importance of
rationality for resource transactions in exchanges. It has further
been argued that the relational significance in economic exchanges
today represents residual effects from the past. As the selective
process proceeds, relational significance will eventually be
superseded and replaced by transactional significance. [...]
The author, however, criticized this view saying that there is no empirical evidence for a development view between relational rationality and transactional rationality (the author’s main interest is the difference between cultures of East and West).
As for the empirical research itself, I’ve seen many comparisons between transactional selling vs. relational selling, but this is a comparison between different marketing strategies (and approaches to marketing in general) in developed countries rather than cross-national analysis. This refers to your question in some way, for example in relational selling you are more inclinable to extend your budget for a certain customer and renegotiate price for the sake of creating long-lasting relationship with your client.
Hope this helps.