Globalization is not value free; rather, the pressures to conform to universal standards of conduct and competitive performance force organizations and individuals to assimilate new values, which may be in conflict with local cultural values and practices. This requires the individuals, organizations, and nations to build the necessary mind-set, competencies, capabilities, and capacities to manage the transformations associated with globalization. Globalization is founded on competitiveness.
To remain competitive, actors must “continue to innovate” (Anton, 1995). Innovations are based on advancements in science, technology, and commercialization. It is, therefore, logical to add to the center the institutional actors involved in promoting science, technology, and innovation. This includes universities, research laboratories, startups, entrepreneurs, knowledge workers, venture capitalists, management experts, consulting firms, stock markets, shareholders, and corporate directors.
The United States currently leads the world in investing in science, technology, and innovations and remains the most dominant actor at the center. A key lesson we learn from these experts is that globalization can and must be managed. Since globalization affects all nations, governments, businesses, communities, and individuals, the best we can do is fight back or respond in kind in order to take advantage of its opportunities and to minimize its potential adverse consequences. This requires a “strategic approach to globalization” (Fischer, 2000).
Nations, governments, businesses, institutions, communities, and individuals should not see themselves as helpless victims of globalization; rather, they should actively take the initiative to understand the nature of globalization, its causes, and its consequences on the ground; assess their own opportunities, strengths, and limitations; and develop realistic goals and a plan of action for managing globalization. It is not easy, and there are no guarantees or shortcuts, but the strategic approach is better than isolation or surrender.
Doing it in partnership with others increases the chances of success and mitigates against some of the negative consequences. The management literature is rich with descriptive materials on how businesses can become globally strategic and competitive in the twenty-first century. (Hirst, 1999) Nations, government institutions, communities, and individuals can draw on this body of knowledge to develop their own tailor-made strategic directions and action plans for managing globalization. In its 1999 Human Development Report on globalization with a human face, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), one of the U.
N. specialized agencies doing extensive work in developing countries, provides a framework and guidelines for managing globalization. Recognizing that globalization is characterized by new markets, new tools, new actors, and new rules, the report challenges governments and the international community to find rules and institutions for stronger governance at the local, national, regional, and global levels. Globalization is multidimensional and, therefore, means different things to different people across time and space.
Globalization is about transformational change with intended and unintended adverse effects. Since its dynamics and consequences are not fully predictable, some of its aspects may be emphasized or deemphasized at different times for different regions, countries, or societies. (Friedman, 2000) Yet, because the key drivers of globalization come from industrialized countries, individual developing countries have no realistic option but to participate in the globalization process. Many people are openly opposed to globalization: the concept, its practice, and its consequences.
This is in spite of its actual and potential benefits to both rich and poor countries. This opposition, if left unchecked, threatens to push the world back to the dark days of protectionism and closed societies reminiscent of the Cold War. Many world leaders have, at one time or another, expressed doubt, apprehension, qualified support, or outright opposition to globalization and have questioned its moral justification. However, Globalization can be and in most cases has been, good for cultural diversity and development.
By contributing to “liberalization, rising incomes, increased use of technology, better education, and global migration,” (Prakash & Hart, 1997) globalization helps to create multiple environments in support of cultural and interactive diversity. It allows people to experiment with alternative models of development, while at the same time borrowing ideas and practices from other cultures and institutions. It provides people with the opportunity to enjoy freedom for their own culture and, at the same time, be exposed to other cultures.
It allows weaker and smaller cultures to coexist alongside the big and powerful cultures. It allows minor or provincial languages and remote cultures to connect with other cultures. As it presently exists in the world today, globalization is an asymmetrical and imperfect system. To be committed to globalization is to understand its lack of symmetry among the players and its inherent imperfections. Therefore, globalizing countries, governments, businesses, institutions, and communities must commit themselves to work toward its improvement.
For developing countries, this means, among other things, not to promote globalization as a “panacea for all problems,” (Micklethwait, 2000) but to build the necessary institutional capacities and competencies for the defense and improvement of globalization for the greater benefit of all citizens.
Resources Anton, D. J. 1995. Diversity, Globalization, and the Way of Nature. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1995. Fischer, T. C. 2000. The United States, the European Union, and “Globalization” of World Trade: Allies or Adversaries?
Westport, CT: Quorum. Hirst, P. , and G. Thompson. 1999. Questioning Globalization: The International Economy and the Possibilities of Governance. Cambridge: Polity Press. Friedman, T. L. 2000. The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. New York: Anchor Books. Prakash, A. , and J. A. Hart. 1997. Globalization and Governance. London: Routledge. Micklethwait, J. , and A. Wooldridge. 2000. A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization. New York: Random House.
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