Cultural Globalization Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2145 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Anthropology

¶ … Cultural Globalization

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Despite the prevailing popular press that globalization and the "flattening" of entire countries and cultures is now in full force, there is still a high degree of variation, in fact heterogeneity, between and within cultures. This dynamic of greater differences within cultures between groups and between cultures and nations is in turn driving a much more niche-based series of strategies. Porter (74- 76) specifically defined the competitive strength of heterogeneity on a global level as a result of escalating incomes and the need for greater efficiencies in serving the unique needs of these markets. Contrary to the comparative advantage theories of globalization that Porter (et.al.) and other strategy theorists support, there are the also the theories of how unilateralism requires greater governance and oversight of the globalization process (Jan Nederveen Pieterse, pp. 120, 121). In addition the commentaries of Caplan and Cowen (pp. 402, 403, 404) regarding the effects of cultural competition doesn't portray globalization as one met with harmony and understanding, yet instead with suspicion of cultural values and traditions being assailed by Americanization of traditions, customs and rituals. This paper discusses how cultures are resisting the homogenization of their cultures and their overt Americanization, underscoring how autonomous cultural communities can be and also resilient. Despite much of what has been written in popular press and books, diverse cultural groups aren't swayed so much by the potential of Americanization bringing them jobs and wealth as they are for the contributions corporations can make to improving the quality of life through pervasive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. Micro lending, agricultural and regional economic development plans underwritten by companies seeking entrance to foreign markets, the composition of the company's local board of directors, and the including of governance and oversight processes are all critical for any global expansion strategy to be successful.

Globalization's Paradoxes

Term Paper on Cultural Globalization Assignment

Thomas Friedman is an example of one writer who has not completely told of the paradox of globalization, concentrating only on one aspect of this dynamic. His writings are fairly representative of only side of the globalization paradox impacting many 2nd-tier and 3rd world nations. Reading his books and articles makes it sound as if these nations want Americanization when in fact there are fierce religious and legal issues in India on this topic, a point Friedman never discusses in his books. The backlash in Bangalore over the Americanization of call center representatives for example has sparked religious protests.

A in the World Is Flat (pgs, 231, 245, 276) he mentions that the "flattening" of supply chains (one of the major dynamics of global change mentioned in his book) is simultaneously making commodity-like products more price-competitive than ever in highly developed nations, while providing a high degree of product customization for emerging nations' purchasing power. If the simple premise of "flattening" included cultural assimilation and tastes to western values then the commoditization of common products would be universally defined, yet in fact this is not the case. The previous book Friedman wrote on globalization (the Lexus and the Olive Tree, 1999, 143) the concepts of the dual role of globalization from meeting heterogeneous demands was mentioned.

In the latter book Friedman describes globalization as follows:

The inexorable integration of markets, nation-states, and technologies to a degree never witnessed before-in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-states to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before.... The spread of free-market capitalism to virtually every country in the world " (T.L. Friedman, the Lexus and the Olive Tree, 1999, p. 7-8).

In the high growth economies of China and India where per capita incomes are reaching highest-ever levels every quarter and year they are measured, consumer tastes and demands are forcing a high level of heterogeneity of demand over pure commoditization and homogeneity of preferences in both essential and desired products. Friedman (67), while lauded for the thought leadership of his book, contradicts the flatness of the world by stating that the flattening factors will also lead to greater agility and flexibility in giving global consumers more flexibility and latitude in how they define themselves through both how and what they purchase.

If Friedman had been truer to the paradox of globalization he would have seen a broader, more strategic, and longer-range implication from the incidents he catalogs in his two cited books. Instead of the welcoming of jobs and the easy integration of production centers in China and services centers throughout India, what is in fact happening is that in many nations the United States is seen as working to force political brinksmanship in a given region for economic or raw materials advantages, including the hiring of workers at substandard global wages, often in conditions intolerable in any westernized nation (Jan Nederveen Pieterse (2), p. 467). This is the essence of the globalization paradox: there is the argument of westernization bringing greater levels of prosperity including greater diversity of products and services to a region, yet in that westernization, the loss of local cultures and more importantly, religions, is a critical concern. The policies of UNESCO supported by many of the westernized nation's leaders including Matsuura (et.al.) have been successful in defining governance and oversight of expansion practices in developing nations, yet often are not as rigorous in their implementation as a given nation can be. The insistence on the part of the Indian government for example to have a n Indian citizen on their boards of directors, in addition to the development of a complete CSR plan for integrating the foreign company into the local economic environment is critical for the success of any global expansion. Additional oversight however is needed to ensure cultural and religious aspects of a given regions' population are kept intact and not completely overrun by expansion.

As Steger (et.al) and others have noted (Jan Nederveen Pieterse, et.al.) the expansion of western companies into other regions of the world requires a high degree of governance, oversight and specific requirements as to how these organizations can add value to these cultures and preserve and strengthen them. Steger points out that if left unchecked, globalization of manufacturing alone has the potential to significantly impact the cultures of China for example. Global expansion into Chain by western manufacturing interests and the recent incidents of quality management being non-existent show how for even the most pro-globalization companies, there is still the challenge of bringing value to the region and the people who will be employees first, in effect investing in all aspects of a global expansion strategy. The biggest myth of globalization according to Steger is that globalization is synonymous with the liberalization and global integration of markets, and that in essence, globalization is the inevitable spread of democratic capitalism. While Friedman (et.al.) relies on this message as the foundation of his two books on the subject, what is in fact the case is quite the opposite. For a successful expansion strategy to occur within any nation, the organization seeking to increase its presence there needs to first focus on the development of a sound and rational CSR plan and include a series of incentives and initiatives for strengthening the weakest areas of the local economic and social region. Only by doing this will any organization is able to bring relevant value to any given region. Steger, Caplan & Cowen, Nederveen Pieterse and others argue that to position globalization as a 21st century equivalent to an economic manifest destiny is to miss the point of how much of a contribution westernized nations can make by taking more of a service and less of a "be served" attitude to entering new markets either for the labor or to sell and serve customers there. Disappointingly Friedman and Porter don't see the investment in potential new countries as a precursor to getting a return from the efforts to increase globalization.

The myth of globalization benefiting everyone in the long-run is also the foundation of many of the arguments by companies to increase their level of westernization of foreign cultures. This is clearly a rationalization according to Steger, and as can be seen from the supply chain practices of Wal-Mart, not true. The supply chain practices of Nike, Wal-Mart and other American corporations in fact bear out how globalization in fact harms more workers in nations where the pay in factories producing goods for these companies are far below the wages in the U.S. For example. Further, the working conditions and workers' rights are not protected through legal and regulatory requirements as they are in the U.S. And other nations, so in effect these corporations get all the benefits of cheap labor with none of the costs or long-term risks of unionization. The irony of this is that many members of the press including Micklethwait & Wooldridge (pp. 17, 18) don't necessarily agree with how taken advantage of laborers are in these third world nations, now the manufacturing centers for American and westernized retailers and mass merchandisers. Instead the concentration of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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