Thousands of years passed between the invention of the wheel and the installation of the first conveyor-based automobile factory. The radio, television, telephone, and computer had been invented separately within a century timeframe before Steve Jobs made his iPhone and incorporated all the functions in one slick device. The world narrows faster and faster, and it seems that nothing is out of reach today. Consumer may wear a Mexican T-shirt, drink Brazilian coffee, drive a German car and use an American computer. And there is no need to go abroad for any of these products. A businessman from the UK may buy a company in Indonesia and then sell its part in China. All this becomes possible thanks to globalization.
There is no single definition of the term “globalization”. Researchers Srujana and Vadlamudi (2013) explain globalization as “the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and other aspects of culture” (p. 32). According to Albrow and King (1990), “globalization refers to all those processes by which the peoples of the world are incorporated into a single world society, global society” (p.9). Globalization arises through all forms of exchange. It causes integration of economies around the globe, especially through the expansion of international corporations and intensification of financial flows. Innovation and technology progress are the instrumental factors that trigger the process of globalization, making it easier to perform international transactions and share knowledge. The process of intercultural assimilation is significantly fostered by the movement of people, both through amalgamation of customs and traditions and migration of the labor power.
Globalization is inevitable and irreversible process. It started centuries ago and is unlikely ever to stop. The search of profits and new trade opportunities drove merchants from Europe to explore new routes to the East. Therefore, the Old Silk Way revealed Persia, India, and China to Europeans; in those times only few knew about the existence of these Asian countries. The same reasons brought Cristofor Columb to America.
Globalization is a complex issue, which should be estimated from different aspects: economically, politically, technologically, and culturally. Some view globalization as the entirely beneficial process, while others refer to its negative impact economical sustainability of the developing countries, as well as on cultural homogeneity.
One of the positive effects of globalization is a promotion of a more equal dispersion of economic power between rich and poor countries. Western investments into developing countries show positive results; such countries as China, India and Russia demonstrate steady growth of productivity and industrialization (Mandelson, 2008). Free trade gives the opportunity to exchange products and resources. Therefore, countries can focus on fields where they possess a relative advantage, producing goods at a lower opportunity cost. As a result, consumer prices decrease, a greater choice of goods becomes available, and wider export markets open for domestic manufacturers.
Furthermore, an increased migration of employees is beneficial for both specialists and recipient countries. In case of high unemployment in the country or dissatisfaction with working conditions, one has wider opportunities to find a job elsewhere. For instance, a growing number of medical professionals from Eastern Europe migrate to Germany while German doctors move to the United States, Austria, or Scandinavian countries (Bonstein et al., 2006).
The process of globalization also conduces to a greater competition. The business landscape is being gradually equalized as the new players appear on the world trade market. Backed by governments, they can effectively compete with established market leaders (Britt, 2007). At the same time, the need of expansion of big companies has made it easier for developing countries to attract foreign investors, which is beneficial for their economies.
On the other hand, globalization is concerned with a range of aggressive side-effects.
Although it gives opportunities for worldwide development, it is not progressing equally. Countries that have become integrated into the global economy more quickly are experiencing faster growth and reduced unemployment while others need protection as they are not able to stand the competition. Globalization also greatly contributes to pollution of the environment. This happens because companies tend to develop their businesses in countries with less strict environmental standards. As a result, firms use cheaper non-renewable sources, contribute to deforestation, and facilitate global warming. Migration of labor power is not entirely beneficial as well. It is difficult for some countries to prevent their best professional from moving abroad in search of higher salaries. At the same time, unemployment may increase in the industrialized world because companies move their factories to places where they can hire cheaper workers. Loss of cultural individuality is a relative drawback, as sometimes countries may gain even more than they lose.
There is no doubt that globalization affects lives of every individual. Thanks to global integration, markets are supplied with larger amounts of goods, and thus people enjoy the opportunity to choose products of the best makers in the world. Internet and computer technologies give the scope to be updated about the latest news from any corner of the globe, and advances of transportation leave almost no limits to where one can get fast and comfortable. However, it has become more dangerous to live in the age of globalization. Diseases spread more rapidly, and it is harder to identify the initial source. Moreover, the accident in Mumbai in 2008 perfectly showcased how modern technologies can be effectively harnessed by terrorist organizations. A group of extremists crossed the sea from Karachi, using the newest global positioning system. They also used Internet phones to communicate with the allies from Pakistan that made it almost impossible to detect and intercept calls (Kahn, 2008). Nowadays a person can get the most powerful computer almost everywhere, but can never be sure that this high-tech device will not become a convenient aim for someone’s sudden vicious attack.
To summarize, globalization is a complex and controversial process, which must be viewed from various aspects. It has greatly affected the way modern trade markets, governmental policies, and fashion trends look today. This process has always been ongoing, but now it is experiencing the phase of acceleration. No matter whether it’s initial objectives are accomplished or not, it is unlikely ever to stop.
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