Economic globalization has been occurring since the Hellenistic Age (323 BC) but it is since the industrial revolution, particularly from the mid 1800s, that trade between countries has had a notable increase.
Today, however, there appears to be a parabolic rise due to the advent of information technology which enables the transmission of shared knowledge, foreign ownership, and business transactions to be performed with exponential speed between businesses, citizens, denizens, and governments. Not only is mass globalization inevitable but it is already occurring with the increased use of new computer and telecommunications tools, and the sharing of knowledge between organized groups and regular citizens who now have instant ‘access’ to each other worldwide.
There are several indicators as to why information technology and society’s thirst for information will increase economic globalization.
1. It is because of information technology and how society uses them that businesses themselves are beginning to find success by moving away from a proprietary culture to an open-source or mass collaboration system. This is a major shift from the closed-door policies and hierarchical systems that ensured their livelihood in the pre: social media era where information was kept secret. Business models that open them to new ideas shared by an online knowledge base can often offer them access to a larger share in the global market. Society has been changing the way business is done by demanding transparency and inclusion in the process and by providing greater payoffs for the business as a result.
An example is the company Goldcorp (TSE:G). Don Tapscott (author of Macro Wikinomics) writes that Goldcorp, an obscure small-cap company in trouble with debt and unable to spend developing a new mining site, did the unimaginable in the mining industry. It disclosed its new digging location on its website and then invited ideas as to where would be the ideal place to dig within the large property.
”The ‘Goldcorp Challenge’ made $575,000 in prize money available. There were entries from graduate students, management consultants, mathematicians, military officers, and a virtual army of geologists. More than 1,000 virtual prospectors from 50 countries got busy”.
“More than 80 percent of ideas yielded substantial quantities of gold. This catapulted [an] underperforming $100 million company into a $9 billion juggernaut”. source: 1
Not only did online mass collaboration help them reduce expensive exploration costs but it would have given the small-cap company visibility to a worldwide global investor base.
2. Developing countries are now major world players on the stage of economic globalization, and it is possible they may succeed developed countries in future in terms of world trade. In order for developed nations to be competitive they will need to understand, utilize, and know how to collaborate using the knowledge available to them through information technology and society. CNBC journalist Albert Bozzo has written an article on developing countries and their impact.
“Emerging markets now account for about 40% of world trade, almost double what they did in 1995, according to the IMF, and more and more are entering the world stage. ”
3. The stats speak for themselves. International trade figures provide a look at the growth of economic globalization from a time when information technology first took hold (about 1980) up until 2007. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic globalization has grown substantially.
“Between 1980 and 2007, the ratio of goods and services trade to global GDP has risen from about 42 to 62 percent”
Foreign ownership by individual and institutional investors clearly shows the impact that an information society has had on individuals who seek knowledge outside their country. It is a clear indicator that economic globalization is on the rise.
“Foreign direct investment has risen from some six to 32 percent [between 1980 – 2007]”.
An argument against globalization is the global financial meltdown that began with the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008 that became a contagion to all financial institutions and countries that had dealings with these institutions. It has rippled down to protests throughout Europe. And this leads me to the 2nd question of whether social capital will increase or decrease given our society of sharing information.
‘SOCIAL CAPITAL’ WILL ONLY INCREASE
If mass economic globalization is likely to continue then ‘social capital’ will certainly rise in our ‘information society’ as a result of the surge in numbers of large groups of people who can effectively use the internet to ‘gather’ together to protest, strategically rally, and disseminate information to the world. An advantage to IT is the speed within which ‘the message’ can be carried. These large group of gatherers can affect and may very well define a corporation’s or government’s future ethical policies because their voices makes corporations transparent whether they want to be or not.
This is especially true in South America, the Middle East, north Africa, and North America where there is a high proportion of young unemployed people. In North America the echo boomers (1982-1995) are even larger (representing 33 percent of the population) than the baby boomers.
Collectively they will become the digital generation where their voices will be heard on mass, on-line, and immediately. According to Don Tapscott employment has been a key issue for youth.
“In the UK young people aged 16 to 24 account for about 40% of all unemployed. In Spain more than 40% of young people are unemployed. We said that if they worked hard, stayed out of trouble, and attended school, they would have a prosperous and fulfilling life. And then we rub salt in the wound by saying we’re in a “jobless recovery”.”
A high proportion of unemployed youth are well educated and when you consider that they can be heard simultaneously via portable devices and computers using cloud platforms like facebook, youtube, twitter, and blogs you get a glimpse as to the impact they will have on how business may be conducted in the future and how employment for their generation will likely change. In Egypt and Tunisia the lack of employment for young people was a key issue as was the corruption of their governments, and it was transmitted by them using information technology.
This is only the beginning of change to the world’s social capital as globalization increases.