Examining Globalization - Part I
Examining Globalization - Part I
  • Chander Wanchoo
  • 승인 2009.10.26 16:36
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This is the first part of a multi-part series - Ed.

Let me ask you some questions. Do you know what globalization is, its origin along with its whereabouts Do you want to be part of the momentum referred to by words like globalism, globalization, and global business Did you ever wonder why globalization is a buzzword in both business and non-business arenas Do you want to get some tips and techniques if you have already started on the globalization journey

If you answered yes to any of the above, please stop multi-tasking, relax, and push your chair back, becuase this multi-part series is going to take you on the journey of globalization - right from its concept to adaptation - with an eye on trends and the future. The key focus of this multi-part series is sharing my research about globalization and the events around this word. In this first part, my focus will be primarily on differentiating the word globalization from related words and setting the stage to explore globalization in detail.

Preface

These days being bombarded or intimidated by buzzwords is very common. And most of the time our reaction to these words is none at all, because we think we are aware of them, or if not completely aware of them we just don't care. To some extent it makes sense, as it is practically impossible to keep track of everything under the sun or in cyberspace.

Among these buzzwords, globalization has taken a high precedence both in personal and professional landscapes. The word is being used across the length and breadth of the land. Let me share with you my experience of the same word - in my last ten months of stay in this beautiful country of South Korea, I have noticed it being used everywhere. On bus stops, cars, sign boards, across cities, libraries and homes, the word is used irrespective of the size or nature. It is a kind of de-facto ornament which you can always see around you.

For quite some time now, I have been asking myself why there is so much importance linked to this word. And I used to just say that maybe it looks good as an eye-catching phrase with the intent to convey a message that a business is with the times and is ahead within its peer group. But even though I answered my own question, still this word caused me to ask the same question repeatedly, whenever and wherever I encountered it.

Origin

Now before I take it further you may have also heard about the word outsourcing - not only in IT services but across the industry domains of product manufacturing and services. I am sure you will have noticed that some folks use these words interchangeably; not in the sense of word-to-word synonymy but with the same general meaning. However, the fact of the matter is that these two words are placed in entirely different contexts with some amount of kinship built in.

During the course of our discussions around the word global, we will surely touch upon the word outsourcing, position it correctly, and decipher how exactly it is related within the context of the word global or global business. At this point, let us focus on the words global and globalization.

Back in 1951, Merriam-Webster defined globalization as the state of being globalized; especially "the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets." Cambridge defined global as relating to the whole world and globalization as the "increase of trade around the world, especially by large companies producing and trading goods in many different countries."

If you look at these definitions closely you will have observed the key common words in both of these are development, economy, global economy, free trade, around the world, cheaper foreign labor, and large companies. Putting these terms together makes it quite clear - when our mind hears words like global or globalization it scans our memory and responds with pictures of trade, business, and geographical boundaries as interpretation. Hence we correlate these words with the trade across boundaries. I would again pose a question here: why is trade across boundaries becoming so special that it needs a new word or words Does trade and commerce really need to be redefined If not, then why do words like globalization or global keep popping up with such popularity

Further

Is then globalization just trade, commerce and economy No, not really. It is much newer than that. Trade, commerce and economy between communities, across nations and across continents has been in existence since prehistoric times. Our ancestors bartered goods and services with each other before the invention of the modern day currency.

The silk route highlighted on the map confirms that trade and commerce across boundaries and geographies was prevalent before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914

Peter Watson dates the history of long-distance commerce from circa 150,000 years ago. For thousands of years, people across boundaries have been engaged in buying and selling activities across shorter or greater distances. One such example of greater distance is the famed Silk Road across Central Asia that connected China and Europe during the Middle Ages. For centuries, people and corporations have been investing in businesses and economies outside of their countries. Looking back at history, the East India Trading company was initially formed for pursuing trade and commerce with South and South East Asia.

With data in hand coupled with my personal experience, I would like to emphasize that globalization is not synonymous with trade and commerce. Although trade and commerce is one of the key enablers for this word, it is not a substitute in any respect. The terms global or globalization encompass much more than just pure-play trade and commerce.

In fact, many of the features of the current wave of globalization are similar to the existing framework of trade and commerce, but at the same time globalization is not purely just about trade, commerce, or economy. There is much more to it. With the advent and maturity of the communications industry, the word has redefined its meaning.

Over the course of the next write-up, I will explore the drivers behind globalization, identify its key components and show what it really means to be global - to define the path of globalization.


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