Organizations or states stand

'Whether we call it "globalization" or "inter-nationalization", very few people, organizations or states stand to benefit' To what extent do you agree with this statement? Globalization is without doubt it is a "buzz" word of the time – it is a word that seems to be constantly mentioned in the news on the television or radio. But what does living in a "globalized" world really mean? As a starting point this essay will attempt to interpret its meaning by applying four main theories and using these theories to discuss the impact of globalization on individuals, organisations and states.

It will go on to explore three different perspectives on global change and how each perspective might view its effects including identifying possible weaknesses in their arguments. This will enable a decision to be made as to what extent the question "whether we call it "globalization" or "inter-nationalization", very few people, organisations or states stand to benefit can be agreed with. Globalization can be characterized by four distinctive features. First it involves a stretching of social, political and economic activities across nation-state boundaries.

What is happening on what might be geographically the other side of the world, affects the other and specific local developments can have considerable global consequences. Examples of this would be global climate change, environmental issues such as pollution into the atmosphere and oceans, poverty etc. We are all losers in terms of global problems such as pollution – acid rain, toxic waste etc and it extremely daunting to think that we are totally limitless in our control of them. For example, in April 1986 an accident occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the USSR.

This caused a cloud carrying radioactive particles to hit Britain. Ten years on, as a result of the fall-out, 70,000 sheep in Cumbria remained contaminated (Cochrane, A. and Pain, K. (2004), p. 18). Second, it is marked by the intensification of flows of trade. Technological developments have accelerated over the past 20 years – the introduction of mobile phones, the internet, satellite television means that communication across the planet is virtually instantaneous. There are hundreds of satellites floating above the earth, each one carrying a huge amount of information.

Physical distance is no longer an issue – we are being brought much closer to news/issues/events from around the world – this could be seen as good or bad although for the ones that have it, access to much more information has to be a good thing. Losers would undoubtedly be people without internet access and organisations with a less developed communication infrastructure. The way people work is changing – working from home is now much more viable and this has to be a good thing for individuals and companies because it provides more flexibility all round.

Third, it can be linked to increasing interpenetration or the bringing together distant cultures and societies face to face with each other at local level, good examples of this would be Microsoft, Coca Cola, McDonalds and Starbucks. This could be seen as good or bad, many people don't like the fact that these huge companies put smaller privately owned companies out of business and that everything is becoming so uniformed – local places with "character" are being lost.

Global trade on the whole is increasing which may mean more jobs, better employment prospects for some but on the down sound it may also mean many home communities are devastated when local companies are bought out by multinational ones that cut wages and benefits and/or moves production overseas. This could lead to the inequality gap widening further which will ultimately cause conflict and potentially from this point of view we are all losers here too.

And forth, the development of a global infrastructure – the authority of nations is territorially bound therefore international organisations such as The United Nationals, The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation all play a part in regulating and governing the global system and are new forms of agency brought about because of globalization. It could be argued that in this borderless economy, nation states have no option but to accommodate global market forces due to their power, limiting their options.

Furthermore, a growth in international trade (often due to lower trade barriers) will encourage more competition. This could be seen as having winners and losers but reducing trade barriers in particular may reduce the role of governments which, in turn, could encourage corruption. There is no doubt that many developing countries have increased their share of world trade as a result of globalization although this may be at the detriment of the poorer countries.

There are three positions which all have a different perspective on the term globalization; these are the globalist, inter-nationalist and transformationalist and all three have strengths and weaknesses to their arguments. Globalists on the whole see Globalisation as something that is real and is happening – that changes are happening socially and economically and that it is an inevitable, irreversible development that should not be resisted. But globalists themselves fall into two categories – optimistic/positive globalists and pessimistic globalists. Optimistic/positive Globalists view it as a process that is beneficial.

They would probably disagree with the statement that very few people, organizations or states stand to benefit because they welcome the changes that it brings such as improvement on the quality of life, raising living standards and the bringing together of societies and cultures – promoting a better understanding of each other. They acknowledge that globalisation is not all good news, that with it issues such as global environmental pollution, for example, but want citizens to take responsibility for their actions, to look for ways of minimising the damage through their own actions and through the use of new technologies.

They may have overlooked however, that local Governments/authorities may be limited in their actions in relation to worldwide/global issues and that globalization is certainly not developing in an even handed way. In Tony Gidden's Reith Lecture he quotes "Globalisation some argue creates a world of winners and losers, a few on the fast track to prosperity, the majority condemned to a life of misery and despair and indeed the statistics are daunting. The share of the poorest 5th of the world's population in global income has dropped from 2.

3% to 1. 4% over the past 10 years. The proportion taken by the richest 5th on the other hand has risen" (Tony Gidden Reith Lecture "Runaway World" 1999). Pessimistic globalists regard it with hostility, believing that it increases inequality between nations, threatens employment and hinders social progress. Moreover they believe that globalization is making the world become more homogeneous with the demise of sovereignty and national identities as well as the demise of politicians' capabilities to influence events.

A pessimistic view would probably be that only the giant multi-national companies (usually American) stand to benefit since the US has a dominant economic, cultural and military position in the global scheme of things. They would probably view globalization as nothing more than corporate hegemony and would definitely agree with the statement about very few people, organizations or states benefiting. A weakness of the pessimistic globalist view is that they don't seem to have a clear solution to the problem, it's like they want to "reverse time" and go back to how it was.

They undermine the existing structure but have no idea about any clear alternatives. According to the inter-nationalists all the talk about globalization is exactly that – just talk. They believe that the world carries on much the same as it ever did that it isn't especially different from that which existed in previous periods and that increases in global trade across the world is just progression based on world trading links that have been established for many years – a continuation of the past.

They argue that a good deal of economic exchange is between regions rather than being truly worldwide, for example countries of the European Union mostly trade among themselves. This whole view seems unrealistic. World financial flows have grown exponentially since the 1970's and advances in technology have undoubtedly helped with transactions becoming instantaneous with 24 hour global financial markets. International trade has also grown to unprecedented levels and involves a much wider range of goods and services.

As a result a weakness of theirs would be that underestimate the power of nation states and possibly put too much faith in the capabilities of national governments. The third – transformationslists – is somewhere in between the two. They believe that something is happening, that changes are taking place and that the effects of globalisation should not be underestimated. Unlike the globalists they believe that nothing is pre-determined or inevitable and that national, local and other agencies still have room for manoeuvre and that maybe new solutions may have to be found.

A strength of the transformationalist is that they see sovereignty as having to be shared among other private and public agencies. They would probably sit on the fence as to whether people, organizations or states stand to benefit from globalization. Some people do benefit, some don't. Some organisations benefit, some don't, and so on. It might depend on who you are, what you are, where you live etc.

A weakness of the transformationalist would be that they are somewhat blinded by the scale of global inequalities that are developing as a result of rationalisation as they tend to have more of a "regional" focus. The word "globalization" seems to have come from no where to be almost everywhere. Globalisation is political, technological, cultural and economic, it affects everyone and its effects can be seen everywhere. There are winners and losers but with reference to the original question in the introductory paragraph personally it would have to be a disagreement with this statement.

Globalization is not something that should be shirked but the challenges it presents need to be controlled because it is now part of the way we live and it's not going to go away. Metaphorically speaking it may mean a shrinking world but it is creating something that has never existed before and it is without doubt changing our world, for better or worse, no matter where or whom we happen to be. (1632 words)


Cochrane, A. and Pain, K, 'A globalizing society' in Held, D. (ed) (2004) Gidden Reith, A. Lecture "Runaway World" (1999)