Tradition can be an obstacle to progress. Many times, people will not want to do something new because it is against a tradition. Progress is like a speeding train though. Once it gets momentum, it's hard to stop. Eventually, it shatters the tradition.
It all depends upon what the tradition is. Similar to the example stated in kapokidd's response, American was founded on the tradition of the Puritan Work Ethic. Americans still want to believe in the idea that hard work pays off. We instill this sense of cause and effect in children through school and in the work place with adults. Perhaps it doesn't always work out that way, but in the ideal, it is a founding tradition that underscores our collective attitude about life in the United States.
When I lived in Korea, one of the things that makes it hard in some ways is the automatic respect for older men in a business regardless of their effectiveness or productivity. Because the older men always set the rules in terms of hours and procedures at work, it can lead to stagnation and very ineffective structures in businesses simply based on tradition.
I don't think this is always the case and there are times where traditions can be very helpful. In Korea, there is a culture of hard work and a celebration of hard work and it certainly has helped that country progress after basically the entire place was destroyed following WWII and the Korean War.
I would argue that it very often is an obstacle. Let me give you an example from when I was living in Micronesia.
On the island where I lived, there were traditional, hereditary titles that were given to various people -- they had been the rulers in the times before Americans came. By tradition, those people could demand gifts and such from those under them.
At one point, my father was trying to help a man start a pig farm. The pig farm was going well, but then a titled person demanded the pigs to be used in a feast. The man running the farm could not refuse because of traditional and cultural demands. Thus, his investment was completely lost.
When cultures have traditions like this, it can be very hard for economic progress to be made. That is why I would argue that tradition can be an obstacle to progress.
I would also argue that there are traditions in more modern countries that hinder progress. An example is traditions that keep women out of the workforce hinder progress. Japan, for example, needs more people in its workforce but its traditions make it hard for women to work, especially in good jobs.
Tadition is not an obstacle to progress. Yes, we need some things to be changed. We all see that their are odd rituals but that rituals are made by us and named traditional rituals. Yes, women should get right. But tradition has its own significance --let us take an example, when their is a tradition of having a marriage in the caste . Because of this tradition one can marry easily without any problem. Tradition is also in the favour of arranged marriage. one can only see the results of arranged marriage and love marriage which usually ends with siucide. so one can observe and say wether tradition is right or not . yes, i agree with that tradition needs to be changed in some cases like DOWRY, CHILD MARRIAGE, and SATI.
I'll give you an example of tradition as an obstacle to progress.
Residents of the siberian region of Tuva have refused the building of an railroad, claiming that it would threaten their ancient culture. The project of 415 km of railway, which would be linked the town of Kizil and Krasnoyarsk region, was blocked by local shamans.The 300,000 inhabitants of Tuva republic, a little known area, surrounded by mountains, lakes and grasslands, located in the far southern Siberia and northern of Mongolia, are the result of the ancient nomadic culture that appears to remain reluctant to any notion of progress or globalization.