|VOLUME 1 (1999), ISSUE 2 (WINTER)
THE PARADOXES OF " GLOBALIZATION "
THOMAS CLARKE AND STEWART CLEGG
Economic " globalization " is often seen as a one-way current, sweeping away the local and replacing it with a bland global content. But globalization is not simply concerned with the homogenization of tastes. A paradoxical consequence of increasing globalization is the concentration of clusters of world class expertise in specialist industries in different local economies around the world.
This significant local dimension of the globalization phenomena consists of local economies built upon inter-linked networks of relations among firms, universities and other institutions in their local environment. Yet, even re-conceptualized along these lines, globalization is by no means an unproblematic process for analysts.
The two primary casualties of globalization appear to be low skilled workers in traditional manufacturing countries who either see their jobs slip away overseas, or experience a painful slide in their wage rates as their employers strive to reduce costs. Secondly, and more seriously, whole countries and regions find they have been sidelined by the forces of international trade and investment, and instead of experiencing a growing involvement and benefit from the global economy, may encounter a greater sense of dependence and isolation. Particularly vulnerable are the relatively unskilled and under-educated, especially in labor market systems such as the USA that do not develop very active and interventionist labor market policies.
One other projected loser has often been the nation state yet rumors of its imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated. Nonetheless, there are major implications of global markets, especially in capital and finance, for nation states that the paper analyses in conclusion. The winners and losers are likely to be stratified within nation states and regions as well as between them.
A considered approach to regulation, rather than advocacy of a winner-takes-all strategy, is probably the most appropriate policy response. Such a response would acknowledge the irresistible force and many attractions of further internalization but insists on a considered range of regulation to sustain communities, economies and the environment against its most damaging effects.
It is this response to globalization that we find the most acceptable basis for dealing with the most profound economic and political phenomenon at the turn of the millennium. That is recognizing the significance of enhanced international opportunities involves improving investment in internal and collaborative research and development, investing in human capital, and ensuring world class processes and state-of-the-art products and services in order to compete. New international opportunities bring new responsibilities; respecting these in terms of international social and environmental regulations, as well as the integrity of different cultures, is an essential prerequisite to becoming a global corporate citizen.
Globalization - Localization - Inequalities - Market Labor Policies - Regulation
Thomas CLARKE and Stewart CLEGG are professors at the School of Management of University of Technology of Sydney (UTS), Australia.
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