The Truth About Globalization, Harvard Business Review

Adi Ignatius
FROM THE JULY–AUGUST 2017 ISSUE
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Public sentiment about globalization has taken a sharp turn. The election of Donald Trump, Brexit, and the rise of ultra-right parties in Europe are all signs of growing popular displeasure with the free movement of trade, capital, people, and information. Even among business leaders, doubts about the benefits of global interconnectedness surfaced during the 2008 financial meltdown and haven’t fully receded.

In “Globalization in the Age of Trump,” Pankaj Ghemawat, a professor of global strategy at NYU’s Stern School and at IESE Business School, acknowledges these shifts. But he predicts that their impact will be limited, in large part because the world was never as “flat” as many thought.

“The contrast between the mixed-to-positive data on actual international flows and the sharply negative swing in the discourse about globalization may be rooted, ironically, in the tendency of even experienced executives to greatly overestimate the intensity of international business flows,” writes Ghemawat. Moreover, his research suggests that public policy leaders “tend to underestimate the potential gains from increased globalization and to overestimate its harmful consequences.”

The once-popular vision of a globally integrated enterprise operating in a virtually borderless world has lost its hold, weakened not just by politics but by the realities of doing business in very different markets with very different dynamics and rules. Now is the time for business and political leaders to find a balance—encouraging policies that generate global prosperity at a level that democratic societies can accept.

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Professor Leslie Sklair: Key researcher in Global Studies

Leslie Sklair is Professor Emeritus in Sociology at LSE. He received his PhD from LSE, and his thesis, Sociology of Progress, was published by Routledge in 1970 and was then translated into German. In 1973 he published Organized Knowledge: Sociological View of Science and Technology (which was translated into Spanish). In the 1980s he carried out field research on the developmental impacts of foreign investment in Ireland, Egypt and (more intensively) China and Mexico. He published Assembling for Development: the Maquila Industry in Mexico and the United States in 1989, with a second updated edition in 1993. These works provided the material basis for Sociology of the Global System (published 1991, second updated edition in 1995, translated into Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Persian and Korean). A third edition completely revised and updated, of this book, Globalization: capitalism and its alternatives, was published by OUP in 2002, and Portuguese, Arabic and Chinese translations are forthcoming. His book The Transnational Capitalist Class (2001) is now in Chinese.

Professor Sklair was a consultant to the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations in New York (1987-88); the ILO in Geneva (1993); the US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (1991); and the UN Economic Commission on Latin America in Mexico City (1992). He was a Visiting Research Fellow: at the Center for US-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego (1986-87; 1990); the Centre of Asian Studies, Hong Kong University (1994); and the School of Sociology, University of New South Wales, Sydney (1995). In addition, he held Visiting Professorships at the Department of Sociology in New York University (Spring 1993); and University of Hong Kong (1994). New School University in New York (2002) , University of Southern California (2004) and Strathclyde University (2005-2008). He has lectured at universities and at conferences in the UK, Europe, North, Central and South America, Egypt, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Australia and Jamaica.

Professor Sklair is currently the President of the Global Studies Association and also on the International Advisory Board of the ESRC funded major project ‘Cities in Conflict,’ based at Cambridge University.

Professor Sklair’s current research project, “Iconic architecture and capitalist globalization”, builds on his previous work on “Globalization and the FORTUNE Global 500”, which was partly based on interviews with major corporations around the world within a theoretical framework that recasts the relationship between global capitalism, classes, consumerism and the state. The architecture project focuses on how the transnational capitalist class uses iconic architecture.

Source: London School of Economics

ourouHe is on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Review of International Political Economy, Social Forces, and Global Networks, and served as Vice-president (Sociology) of the Global Studies Association.