Expert answer:A Consolidation Elucidation & Application of Conte

  

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JIBE, Volume 17, Number 4, 2017
ISSN: 1544-8037
GLOBALIZATION:
A CONSOLIDATION, ELUCIDATION AND APPLICATION OF CONTEXT, THEORY AND STRATEGY
Sean D. Jasso, Ph.D., M.B.A, M.P.P
dx.doi.org/10.18374/JIBE-17-4.10
ABSTRACT
When did all of this prattle about globalization start and why are the perspectives so profoundly different?
Why might it seem that many of these diverging viewpoints are frequently driven by globally untested
scholars and practitioners alike? What is globalization and how do we best teach this important idea
with integrity and objectivity – particularly to the entrepreneur? This paper provides a framework aimed at
minimizing scholarly and journalistic bias while also maximizing the entrepreneur’s strategic intent to
globalize their firm. Broadly, the paper is an exercise in consolidation of the multitude of ideas contained
in the contextual, theoretical and strategic application of globalization. The target reader is the teacher
of globalization and the practitioner of enterprise in the global marketplace. At its core, the paper is
meant to be insightful to both new and seasoned readers of the topic of globalization as well as instructive
to anyone interested in, responsible for, and accountable to globalization – its meaning, methods and
consequences. The paper ascends in three stages. Stage one frames the historical context addressing
the question – what is globalization? Stage two clarifies the often missing and misguided theoretical
framework addressing the question – what explains the rationale for globalization? Stage three solidifies
the entrepreneur’s strategic portfolio addressing the question – how to best compete in the market
dominated by globalization? The industrious reader might ask, ‘these questions have been answered
before, have they not?’ Perhaps, but the swell of disjointed, transdisciplinary, normative academic and
journalistic literature leaves the serious thinker with a distorted tool kit by which to understand and
practice this widely claimed concept. The paper concludes with a reflection on why a consolidation can
be helpful to the entrepreneur by explaining not what globalization ought to be, but what it is.
Keywords: Globalization; Globality; Globalism; Global Theory; Global Philosophy; Global Strategy
1. INTRODUCTION – PROBLEM AND METHODS
A critical problem in the social sciences is bias – particularly the steeped mindset in ideology. The bias
goes beyond attempts to offer thoughtful theory building from rigorous philosophical and/or development
of a given social issue. This problem, however, is not a new phenomenon and persists really from the
‘post-modern’ 1950s when the disciplines of politics and economics began competing for legitimacy with
the natural sciences. Natural sciences generally use research methods rooted in empirical discovery and
through a wide array of quantitative analyses to produce evidence-based findings. In fact, a trend in the
last decade in business school curricula has been to design courses that teach the manager ‘evidencebased decision-making’. This is a good idea when the data and evidence is as unbiased and transparent
as can be. Where do we find unbiased data? – this, too, is a problem. It is not unusual for data sets to
help produce studies with desired predictions and outcomes for whatever agenda a scholar may have.
Perhaps the research questions have become too narrow, minute and opaque; or, conversely, too broad,
ambitious and obtuse. Maybe the academic calendar or tenure track confines a scholar to produce what
may appear to be clever, but what might in fact be extraneous and undisciplined often completely out of
alignment with the demand of the practitioner. This criticism is not a broad brushstroke at academic
malpractice, but rather a careful reminder that if the academy is to produce knowledge and deliver
teaching lauded as wisdom, a reflection and consolidation are in order – particularly with regards to the
oversaturated market of expertise on our specific target, globalization.
Might a consolidation be biased? Yes, but this bias claims partiality that the literary plethora has
misplaced a proper methodology and research agenda. Everyone seems to have something to say about
globalization, but globalization doesn’t necessarily have direct association with everyone. This
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JIBE, Volume 17, Number 4, 2017
ISSN: 1544-8037
consolidation is indeed a proponent of transdisciplinary research methods so long as the query is
sensible. Globalization isn’t owned by any particular academic discipline, although the science of the
matter might be more tangible in the arena of the social sciences and its corresponding traditional
methods. These methods include studies supported by primary and secondary analyses rooted in the
historical, statistical, comparative, and case study. For example, the general methods driving this paper
are historical aimed specifically at consolidating the contextual problem defining globalization and
comparative aimed at consolidating the theoretical problem explaining the political economy of
globalization and case study aimed at consolidating the strategic implementation of globalization.
1.1 PART ONE: CONTEXT – WHAT IS GLOBALIZATION?
To approach this seemingly simple, yet categorically complex question – what is globalization? – let us
first assert what is widely, historically and traditionally understood in the mainstream annals of thought,
that globalization is best understood as the integration of markets beyond national borders. Stated
differently, globalization represents the behavior of cross-border exchange. The drivers of globalization
are those who seek (for whatever reason) the creation of or consumption of economic, political, cultural or
any meaningful value beyond their nation. Immediately we see that globalization has political roots with
regards to what is essentially trade among nations. We know that nations trade for the simple reason to
exploit their own advantages – comparative/productive as well competitive/value-added. Should the state
own specific industry (socialism) then the mechanism of exchange is likely to be through the output of the
state-owned enterprise. The growing norm, however, is that states generally function as the political and
policy mechanism to provide overall governance, while privately-owned firms (capitalism) assume the risk
associated with most, if not all, elements of cross-border exchange. In summary, our general definition of
globalization describes a dynamic environment of competitive industries creating value by way of
producing goods and services for consumption both domestically and abroad while governments engage
in the politics of creating policies that advance or defend the many complexities associated with the rules
of what is essentially international business.
Let us do a quick bias check – are the definitions above biased? Labeled as demonstrably mainstream,
these explanations pass the objectivity test in the conventional economics of international trade.
However, this leads to a major discrepancy in terminology. Did we define international trade or
globalization? Technically, these classifications are aligned with traditional language associated with the
studies and rules of international trade (politics) and/or international business (economics). That is to
say, trade between two or more nations and not around the world. Specificity is important because what
we have learned is that most nations, firms and people engage in economic activity primarily with single
(or very few) markets/countries (Ghemawat, 2011). So then, what about globalization as a term – what
does this word really mean? The problem historically with this term is one of obfuscation and dogma.
Globalization’s etymological roots – that is, the historical use of the word – derives from the first
contemporary use of the term in fact from an academic. Here is where our first major contextual
cornerstone is placed for our consolidation. It is from the curriculum and writings of Theodore Levitt that
we are introduced to the word and modern idea of globalization (1983). Indeed, any serious database
search on the topic of ‘when was the word globalization first used’ – Levitt’s name and his prominent
article The Globalization of Markets is first in the queue. Levitt’s fame as a Harvard marketing professor,
HBR editor and trained economist helps position him as a, if not the, recognized starting point for
contemporary thought on globalization and certainly the persistent use, overuse and eventual obfuscation
of the word. We will return to Levitt, but for now let us use 1983 or simply the early 1980s as our
benchmark for when this talk of globalization really started. It is the 1980s (really 1978) when we see, for
example, the opening up of China or the massive foreign direct investment by Japan into the U.S., among
the pivotal instances, that provide historical correlation with scholars like Levitt who are witnessing
‘globalization’ of markets.
Prefacing the term’s misuse and outright appropriation from multiple academic disciplines, clarity on
globalization’s teleological origins can also be helpful here. Globalization, like many terms or theories
used to explain outcomes in the social sciences, has a teleological challenge, that is, a problem with
dogma or the associated beliefs about globalization. Teleology aims to explain the purpose or outcome
of a phenomenon. For example, we could ask, what is the outcome of globalization? Fair question.
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From our initial definitions above, we might ask what is the outcome of cross-border integration?
Answers would be helpful for many related disciplines particularly those measuring economic activity. But
what has evolved is that related terms have trespassed or overlapped to confuse not only the study and
meaning of globalization, but also its practice and implementation. For example, similar terms in the
globalization genre include global, globalism, and globality. Let us bring definitional clarity: globalization
– a process that creates an outcome (we’ve said cross-border integration); global – a mindset that
recognizes the entire world as a market; globalism – an ideology to support a certain global/world-wide
agenda (political, social, economic, policy); globality – the emergence or vision of a single, socio-cultural
and political market or environment. With further deconstruction of the language, we define words ending
is ism as pertaining to systems, and ity as pertaining to distinctive conditions.
Building on globalization’s contextual heritage of frequently overly used and often misguided terminology,
we have defined globalization as a process or method of achieving the outcome of cross-border
integration. This terminology is likely to withstand the scrutiny of the objective critic and expert. That
said, let us return to the problem of dogma and, more specifically, explaining some of the fallacies of
globalization. From the academic’s point of view, the term itself has become quite popular particularly as
a broad term to mean all-things international, multi-national, transnational, and/or global. A survey of
textbooks, for example, on ‘international business’ (among the more pedagogically customary and lasting
disciplines in business school portfolios), introduces the word globalization within the first pages defining,
usually correctly, the process and/or outcome of cross-border integration (Ritzer, 2015). To briefly
recapitulate and anchor a guiding assertion, cross-border integration can occur for any reason – mainly
political or economic – complete with all of the infinite outcomes (opportunities, costs, and
consequences). Not once have we indicated that globalization is anything other than this specific process
mainly economic exchange, trade, and value creation.
Yet, it is the proliferation of globalization in virtually all disciplines of traditional business school curricula,
for example, whereby the term has become dogmatically normalized from sweeping assumptions to
provocative platitudes permeating the appendices of nearly every subject. For example,
the
‘globalization’ of marketing, finance, human resources, accounting, law, operations, to name a few has
two objectives. First, authors and editors seem to want to close the gap or catch up to yes, the reality of a
prominence of worldwide trade, interdependence and influence. That is correct and fair. The second
objective, to the contrary, dilutes and overwhelms the research, publication and teaching of globalization.
Examples include a profusion of books, chapters, subchapters and articles from anti to pro-globalization
regularly absent of clear argumentation, rigorous empirical evidence and/or thoughtful care to the
consequences of academic malpractice – particularly to the entrepreneur needing instruction on entering
foreign markets, for example. Dogma may be descriptively punitive, but to achieve contextual
transparency and to resolve the problem of terminological obfuscation, clarity (above agreement) is
essential here. For scholars and editors alike to suggest that we need to teach students that the labor
market for virtually everything will demand a global mindset may be pedagogically astute and ambitious,
but in hindsight, the globalization of everything presents unbalanced reality, diluted simplicity, and
ideological duplicity. In fact, the driving influence of this essay is to revive and consolidate
globalization’s original, or at minimum, moderate roots in political economy.
How do we resolve the problem of terminological obfuscation? A better definitional starting point to the
student of international business, for example, might be to expose all of the variations on the theme of
global as noted above – global, globalization, globalism, and globality. With clarity of this simple portfolio
of terms, the student/practitioner will be better able to filter the bias, forcing authors and scholars, for
example, to develop better precision of argument to therefore yield more transparent empirical testing and
outcomes. Part two below identifies books written by famous people (even Nobel laureates in
economics), but whose arguments suffer from dogmatic normalization. The aim of this essay is to provide
an instructive awakening and consolidation of globalization in both its simplicity and influence on so many
different schools of thought and practice. This of course requires less bias and agenda-setting when
writing about the realities, complexities and opportunities of global integration. The only way to see
through platitudes, for example, is to challenge them. This is the job of theory – good theory driven by
good research.
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2. PART TWO: THEORY – THE RATIONALE FOR GLOBALIZATION: A PORTFOLIO APPROACH
2.1 The Problem Continues What is the purpose of the university? Conventional reason might – or
should – say, to create knowledge and to teach. This section explores the knowledge that explains
globalization by way of presenting a medley of leading theories – not all of which are objective, but most
that are timeless. The theories are also aimed at serving the educator charged with the task of teaching
globalization at any academic level. Where would a student or inquiring mind find globalization? The
most likely place would be a class, book or article on issues pertaining to a wider scope of inquiry beyond
anything domestic. International business courses are a practical place to find globalization and are
taught most often and logically by economists teaching mainly how to compete in foreign markets. As
noted above, the term has been diluted, sadly, into the many subfields particularly in business programs –
that is, the globalization of everything. Regardless of this phenomenon of transdisciplinary pedagogy,
economists seem among the most likely to tackle global issues by way of the unique research methods
that study markets – all nations have markets which dominate economists’ research agendas. Of course
economists, like all disciplines, can be myopic in their agendas, while other disciplines like politics and
policy or sociology and anthropology, for example, are also engaged in the analysis of globalization.
Comparative politics, for example, is a direct hit on where we might find globalization as both a process
and a theoretical tradition. Additional social sciences include sociology traditionally the scientific inquiry
into the behaviors of various groups – from the household, the organization, the city to the nation. In fact,
economics and sociology have been quite productive in the study of globalization. It is also these
disciplines that have added to the central problem of bias and obfuscation exemplified below.
2.2 The Economic View: The Bias of Ideology
For any inquiring mind to learn about globalization, using a simple subject search on Amazon (an
undisputed leading source for all genres of books), inserting the term globalization one finds at the top of
the search list the many works by Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate from Columbia University. Similarly,
leading academic database search engines such as EBSCO Information Services positions Stiglitz’ more
recognized book, Globalization and It’s Discontent (2003), among the first choices (and have been for
years). Stiglitz’ book can be very instructive in supporting our bias argument. Under the guise of
globalization, Stiglitz takes aim at global institutions, their broken promises and the causes and
consequences of the global institutions that govern mainly international banking, monetary policy and
economic development (IMF, World Bank, WTO). In essence, it is globalization’s fault that the financial
markets were globally integrated, overseen by global policy mechanisms and of course, the
consequences upon the regular, innocent folks. Understanding the roots and consequences of income
inequality, for example (Stiglitz’ cause celebre), is important. However, globalization – the process by
which nations and markets have engaged for centuries – unfortunately becomes the villain. Perhaps a
better approach to say, global income inequality, could be to include the dynamic combination of
complexities, challenges and rewards of dynamic and global markets. Stiglitz, like many economists, is
driven by ideology which can help position and commercialize one’s expertise. Regardless of one’s
outlook on economists with clear biases, it is important to identify this influential reality in the educational
marketplace for globalization.
2.3 The Sociological View: The Study of Global Group Dynamics
Let us turn to sociology as an example of transdisciplinary expertise and an active noted discipline
productive in the scholarship of globalization. Interested in group theory, sociology pursues methods
rooted in history, statistics, comparison and case study – the customary toolkit for the social scientist.
Where the contemporary economist and political scientist might create theories in the quantitative arena
rich in data analysis, other areas of inquiry might be steeped in the qualitative arena of philosophy.
Sociology is a close partner to politics and economics and shares the same diverse methodological tools
that study people in groups. Indeed, globalization has benefited from sociological contributions to the
political and policy domains such as helping explain the reasons and outcomes of complex group
dynamics in inner-city households, or regional poverty among certain segments in developing nations, to
name a few. Using the Amazon approach to learning about globalization, should one’s search include
something as simple as ‘understanding globalization’, at the top of the list for …
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