The ease of obtaining a top notch car which utilises German technology, parts imported from France, assembled in China and then shipped in Austrian made containers to an English businessman in Norway, displays the epitome of globalisation in today’s day and age. Starting out as a simple idea which promoted free and unrestricted distribution of products, services, languages and cultures, it has now expanded into a highly complex structure involving multiple levels of interaction now known as advantages of globalisation.
Thomas L. Friedman through his book ‘The World Is Flat’ explores this concept and has divided the spread of globalisation into three periods – the first period involves countries and governments as the main players, the second anoints multi-national companies as the protagonists and the third where emerging economies like India and China through the provision of cheap and efficient labour distribute technical services to the rest of the world at highly competent prices. Thus globalisation and the subsequent advantages of globalisation are inextricably linked with the economic progress of many a nation and has been given the recognition of lifting impoverished nations out of their state of misery.
However the advantages of globalisation though mainly concentrated in the field of economic development, are also well spread out amongst the social, cultural and political realms. Here we explore a few of these advantages.
Globalization: Economic Advantages
No other category of nations displays the advantages of globalisation more so than the developing economies. International trade in manufactured goods and manufacturing employment in these countries has risen exponentially since the onset of globalisation. The port of Shanghai holds the title of being the ‘busiest port in the world’ as of 2005-2007. Similar progress has been observed in India where a huge chunk of the technically educated workforce is migrating to Western nations where they can find gainful employment in industries yet undeveloped in India.
However the ramifications of this brain drain have been both positive and negative. The loss to the country in terms of students going abroad for higher education and employment has been estimated to the tune of $10 billion annually. However economic globalisation in the form of jobs and trade opportunities has brought the world closer and made it more integrated than ever before. The one factor that affects production of goods and services like no other is consumption; and globalisation has altered patterns of consumption the world over. As mentioned above, the increased demand for products in developed nations is being fed by increased production activity in the emerging economies. Thus if the Japanese, for example, did not demand fresh fruit in the past due to its non-availability domestically, they do not now hesitate in doing so, since the extensive imports make this possible now.
Another instance where advantages of globalisation are glaringly evident is in the corporate world. McDonalds, Starbucks, Dominoes – all familiar names across the world started out as home operations in their respective countries of origin. However globalisation in the form of ease of international expansion and cultural acceptance made it possible for these corporations to expand into the global markets and establish a universally recognisable brand name. These multi-nationals have further augmented the job markets internationally providing employment to domestic workers as well as making foreign concepts available to the local population. Thus, globalisation is much more openly welcome and hence, evident, in developing countries where the statistics show that in two decades from 1981 to 2001, the number of people surviving on $1 per day or less has decreased from 1.5 billion to 1.1 billion (of course not all credit of this will go to globalization), and that with the world population having increased substantially in these years.
Due to the increased inter-dependence of nations on one another as brought about by international integration, the formation of international regulatory bodies was also deemed necessary for the smooth and fair conduct of international activities. It is with this purpose that supra-state institutions such as the World Bank, International Criminal Court and WTO were formed. This system is intended to ensure that the balance of power is maintained among the various countries and the benefits of globalisation are well distributed among them. However, whether these objectives are satisfactorily obtained by these organisations or not, is debatable.
Globalization: Cultural Advantages
As has been observed, the effects and subsequent advantages of globalisation make the international markets tend towards a ‘perfect competition’ market system. This implies that markets all over the world offer a variety of goods that are more or less homogeneous in nature and provide these at competitive prices to consumers. Thus consumption and trends tend to change with the advent of globalisation. Culturally, it makes the world a vast melting pot of various cultures and ethnicities which through extensive interaction diffuse into one another. Languages, most particularly English – the ‘lingua franca’ of globalisation – have been a major indicator of the spread of globalisation. Streets on major cities in the world usually have signs and display boards in more than one language. The fact that 3.5 billion people in the world have some acquaintance with English is proof of the fact that globalisation has touched some societies to quite a massive extent.
The spread of common recreational means over the world also advocates globalisation. Pop culture, spread via the Internet and satellite television, has been the major factor bringing young people together across nations. MTV allowed the flow of Anglo-American pop music to youth cultures internationally. This also worked the other way around with popular bands visiting far off nations and being influenced by their cultures. A case on point is that of Led Zeppelin, a well known English rock band from the ‘70s, which wrote a song called “Kashmir” while on a trip down the Moroccan Atlantic coast after being influenced by the hippie culture of the day.
The political and religious effects of globalisation are evident among the mix of cultures that is present almost everywhere in the world today. The massive migration and immigration rates have led to each part of the world becoming a crucible for a multi cultural society. Taking the United States as an example, rapid globalisation has led to demographics such as: 63.7% White, 16.3% Hispanic, 12.2% African American, 4.7% Asian American and 3.1% others as of 2010. Thus globalisation is vastly seen as positive force in the world that brings about high levels of integration among society, though opinions on the subject may differ. Critics such as Paul Krugman, an internationally acclaimed economist, are staunch supporters of globalisation and free trade as it supports his belief of ‘comparative advantage’.
The very fact that all this information is available to us in any part of the world shows how far the global mass media and Internet have helped in integrating nations. Thus, the reach and impact of world media is one of the integral advantages of globalisation. The propagation of social, political, economic and cultural ideas through increased communication between individuals as well as corporations is a essential in propagating globalisation today. Globalisation has ushered in an age of convenience and closer proximity. The advantages of globalisation have been accepted positively by the world at large.