The Globalization of Education

Global education

Globalization has had an uneven development in different areas of human knowledge. In some fields, globalization has advanced more thoroughly; like in commerce and trade,technology, sports, and art. Even in the education field, globalization has already made huge strides.

Standardizing education to fit global standards has been an age-old practice that has had spectacular developments in the recent decades; for example, the International Baccalaureate program at the high school level. This program has been increasingly popular and demanded among students and teachers around the planet. This is a most evident manifestation of a successful global effort. There are no losers here, only winners.

At the university level, the globalization of scholars and students is amazing. They come and go to and from all over the world. The political and the academic world have strong ties and continuous exchange both, of ideas and people. It is very common to find former Presidents and Prime Ministers in the academic world. The process also works in the other direction.

Universities have increasingly realized the great opportunity that a fairly open world represents; and in recent years, some of them have been developing upon this very welcome premise. Numerous major universities have been opening up campuses in different countries around the world.

Carnegie Mellon University opened its Qatar campus in 2004 and has been temporarily leasing part of its space to Northwestern University, while its own facilities are completed, in 2014. NYU opened its Abu Dhabi campus in september 2010.

Even relatively low-profile, public institutions have a campus abroad, like Miami University –from Oxford, Ohio– has a small, though vibrant campus in Luxembourg since the early 70s.

The University of Utah (U of U) has a partnership program with Zayed University, a national university of the United Arab Emirates with campuses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Several faculty members from the U of U have been teaching courses in Zayed University’s Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program and consulting on program development and curriculum. The U of U also has a partnership with Hainan Province China, Hainan University, and the China University of Political Science and Law.

In September 2006, the U of U Abu Dhabi-based EMPA program started to operate in conjunction with the U of U College of Social and Behavioral Science’s Institute of Public and International Affairs, the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Those instances are only a small sample of the myriad of universities increasingly engaged in active global education efforts.

A few decades ago, universities from the Netherlands were the first non-native English speaking institutions that presciently decided to teach a majority of their courses in English, thereby substantially widening in a stroke the universe of foreign students interested in attending their universities. At present, well over one quarter of their students are from foreign countries.

Thunderbird, the prestigious Glendale Arizona graduate school of global management was one of the first universities to detect the incoming acceleration in global thinking and practice in the coming decades, changing its focus from  being “The American Institute for Foreign Trade” (the name it was born with, in 1946), to “Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management” in 1968. More recently, in 2007, it changed to its current name: “Thunderbird School of Global Management”.

Monash University, the largest public institution in Australia by enrollment, has been very active in its Asian expansion: Malaysia in 1998, South Africa (Johannesburg) in 2001. Also in 2001, Monash opened a research and teaching center in Prato, Italy, in an 18th Century Tuscan Palace.

Monash has just been granted a licence to operate in China, including the first graduate school. The University of Nottingham, the University of Liverpool, Duke University and New York University are likely to be granted licences soon.

The globalization process is not only unstoppable, it has continued to gain more traction than ever. The academic sphere is just another very visible manifestation of it.

 

Globalization and The Olympics (Part I)

Every four years, during two weeks and a half, the entire world –figuratively speaking– takes a breather to see and learn about high-performance athletes competing with the best-of-the best, in search of  new olympic –and world– records setting and all sort of sports feats.

High-performance sports, by nature, must be global in order to make meaningful comparisons. Every athlete’s dream is to stand out around the world. Hence, the global nature of sports in general and particularly of the olympics is beyond any doubt.

Sports are a near perfect example of human social activity at its best. Very few human endeavors are as universally extended as sports. Global sports is one of the few human activities where virtually everybody agrees on; that is, in the fundamental spirit behind it: open competition, open benchmarking, with widely communicated instantaneous results.

To a great degree, sports exemplify much of the best of the human spirit: teamwork, management by objectives, persistence, emotional equanimity, discipline, and so on. Very few human endeavors, if any other at all, personifies so well the noble spirit behind well understood competition. Naturally, among contenders, it is very pleasant to result a winner, particularly if that is in the top spot in any sports discipline. However, it is of great importance to also learn how to be a dignified loser, like in life in general. The top spots are just a handle. Not everybody is going to win; in fact, the majority will end up losing.

There is another rarely analyzed angle about global sports: the legal structure behind the sponsor organizations, be it the olympics (the International Olympic Committee –IOC) or soccer’s World Cup (the FIFA). For practical purposes, the nature of the sponsoring organizations in global sports are those of a private foundation, where there are no owners behind it. The amount of economic resources managed and deployed is enormous; revenues for tickets, advertising and transmission rights are in the billions, with a lot of entrepreneurship behind sports’ global competition. Hence, the paramount importance of observing the highest moral standards, and adhering to the best corporate governance practices. Yet, this is a relatively unexplored territory, that deserves deep research and some punctual lucid suggestions for improvement. To whom are the top decision makers of global sports organizations like the IOC and FIFA accountable to?

It is evident that there cannot be profit sharing among the non-existent shareholders; despite it, when dishonesty shows up, there are multiple –immoral– ways to gain enormous personal benefit if some top official is willing to. Full transparency and accountability to the worldwide society that finance those extraordinary endeavors must be sought after. The inevitable conflicts of interest can result in horrible situations -as have already occurred in the past– which cloud the otherwise one of the finest endeavors of mankind.

How the Olympics helps (or even hinders) globalization efforts? From my standpoint, the Olympics are a near-perfect example of globalization at its best.

  • First, globalization in sports is an uncontroversial multicentury-old reality, with increased visibility due to contemporary instantaneous and virtually omnipresent communication means.
  • Second, as in any other human effort, not exempt with occasional controversies, the rules of the game are understood to near perfection by everybody.
  • Third, global sports are so embedded in the human mindset, that they are considered an indispensable part of human activity; nobody would ever think otherwise.
  • Fourth, given the three previous points, global sports is an excellent equalizer –at the very least from the equal opportunities perspective–, an excellent role model for globalization, in its wider conception. Global sports are a bright spot in human activity and thus an appropriate reminder to people all over the planet about the multiple benefits that well conducted globalization represents for mankind. Like everything else in life, if not appropriately done, any human endeavor can lead to conflict and even worse outcomes.
Part II of this post elaborates on the Olympics under the light of competitiveness and knowledge, two of the basic pillars of successful globalization.

In my book, GLOBALIZATION, there is a subsection (in Section One) devoted to Globalization in sports.

 

 

Outsourcing: Opportunities, Myths and Realities

Outsourcing is a very widespread practice, with unknown boundaries.  In that respect, the US is a leading nation, as in many other areas.

A constructive and realistic way to visualize jobs displacement by outsourcing is as an opportunity to upgrade skills and remuneration. History and experience unmistakably show that, in the long run, excessive emotional attachment to personal working habits does not pay well. An open, flexible mind, with a strong desire to learn new skills, is the best preparation of them all, for the hyper-competitive global economy.

As a general rule, those jobs transferred abroad do not come back. What does come back in return is a great opportunity for better, higher paying jobs that, logically, require higher skills. After all, that’s the essence of having the privilege of living in a developed nation.

As a counterbalance of the outsourcing of jobs, lies the inevitability of all developing nations, with no exception, to permanently have to resort to developed nations to acquire sophisticated and specialized goods and services. At the end of the day, at the consumer level, outsourcing is a true win/win situation for everybody.  At the jobs level it is also a win/win situation; however, in the short run, job displacement creates a painful situation, no matter how we approach it. It is a process of creative destruction.

Outsourcing, as an inseparable offspring of globalization, is not a socioeconomic phenomena that can be reversed in a beneficial way for both sides of the equation. There is a great deal of value added to global society by its mere existence. Granted, outsourcing usually is also a very disruptive and painful process because of the jobs dislocation it creates on one side of the deal; every reasonable effort to avoid or minimize that disruption/pain has to be done.

How much latitude is there really for managing outsourcing?

Most of the time, there is a false debate about outsourcing, because, in the final analysis, there is only so much any government can do to effectively counterbalance it. Most fortunately, however, there is plenty of room to gain sizeable benefits from outsourcing by preparing society for this inevitable phenomena. When outsourcing, there is a disparity in time between the preparation (retraining) a developed society needs, and the job displacement it creates; retraining usually takes a long time, if done appropriately, while job displacement is usually an immediate process.

There are five basic principles that provide the conceptual foundation to a proper understanding of the topic:

  • Competitive (comparative) advantages

  • Creative destruction (arbitrage of opportunities)

  • Constructive Use of Our Differences

  • Resistance to Change

  • The price mechanism

Understandably,  as a fact of life … as an undeniable reality, not all nations are endowed with identical resources, both natural and human ones:

  1. On one extreme of the spectrum, stand the most affluent countries, nations with high levels of technological development, with high living standards for their population, meaning high labor costs.

  1. At the other extreme, the many and poor underdeveloped nations, with negligible technological advancement, yet with abundant cheap, unskilled labor.

In between those extremes, there are all sorts of possible combinations, to different degrees.

In an increasingly globalized society, like the one we have been experiencing in recent decades, companies and entrepreneurs have been rediscovering the gigantic benefits to be reaped from this noticeable contrast in resources among nations. I emphasize rediscovering, because throughout the ages, mankind has always, and rightly so, been taking advantage of those differences … that’s what globalization is all about. In fact, in essence, that is the foundation of international trade as well as all sort of exchanges in services too. In Economics, it’s called a competitive (comparative) advantage.

Scientists, scholars, professionals, and business people in all nations on Earth are constantly in search of a solid, lasting competitive advantage … that’s what competition is essentially all about.

The only valid and lasting way to progress is by intelligently applying each and every competitive advantage at reach; in other words, by making a constructive use of our differences, as individuals, as corporations, and as nations.

The price mechanism, in turn, provides vital and dynamic information to guide planning and decision making. The role of the price mechanism in a free society cannot be overstated. Unquestionably, the greatest social function the price mechanism provides in a free economy is signaling where to exploit the large price discrepancies (arbitrage) by benefiting consumers through high quality and less expensive products and services.

How can a developed nation like the US protect its citizens from the negative and very disruptive/painful effects of outsourcing?

 

“Creativity is intelligence having fun”

–Albert Einstein

If adequately handled, outsourcing can and must turn out to be a blessing in disguise, by presenting a huge opportunity to significantly improve the skills of developed country’s population, creating a most welcome virtuous circle: new needs, new higher paid jobs, demanding higher skills (the mere essence of being a developed nation).

There are abundant testimonials of wealthy nations, with very high labor costs, that are very successful in managing, to their advantage, the outsourcing phenomena: Germany, Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, the Czech Republic, and Chile, among others. To a high degree, the US is also a very good example of it. The ingenuity and resourcefulness of the American labor force is well established. Along those lines, the US is a leader in many high paying jobs, high-level activities; among others: high-tech in general, IT (including software), aerospace, engineering, entertainment, consulting and publishing.

Thus, high labor costs by themselves are a correct reflection of affluence and competitiveness. Alas, the dynamic nature of the world economy does not guarantee anything forever. It is extremely important to always be ready, with the appropriate constructive attitude, to learn and become better by the day in our daily professional endeavors. That’s the only infallible formula to successfully cope with globalization and everything associated to it, like outsourcing.

At the corporate and individual levels, there are also a myriad of testimonials of success stories. The path for success in the global village is clear and well established.

There is not –nor will there ever be– a single country with competitive advantages across the whole spectrum … that’s a virtual impossibility. Hence, if appropriately handled, both the global economy and outsourcing leave plenty of room for everyone, provided that the right flexible and dynamic attitude is ever present and honored.

Dinosaurs did not adapt to new, changing circumstances on our planet. As a result, they disappeared from the face of Earth. Metaphorically, that’s a telling story of how we all must collectively strive to avoid prolonging unnecessarily the pain that the job-displacement/retraining process implies.


Are Bubbles A Product of Economic Cycles?

All economic cycles, particularly the long-term — say more than 5 years — have a great propensity to generate bubbles in one or several kinds of assets, depending on the variety of circumstances. However, price bubbles will never be very uniform or predictable, either in scope or duration. The biggest misunderstanding about price bubbles is precisely the reason for their existence. The reason is embarrassingly simple: human imperfection. There are three elements involved:

  • Human society has made substantial progress throughout the centuries.
  • Economics and financial knowledge are in essence also advanced.
  • Excesses are still well beyond the human capacity to overcome.

The not inconsiderable mechanisms, checks, and balances that have been developed through the ages to prevent drastic imbalances are easily overwhelmed by numerous factors:

  • The genuine human desire to progress, to always go further. Mankind has never adequately practiced the concept of limits. We tend to go overboard quite easily. This phenomena is particularly acute where credit-line management is concerned.
  • The greed that inevitably grows as a boom progresses — or fear, in the opposite extreme.
  • The lack of effective checks and balances to fight the many conflicts of interest, inevitable in any human process.

For instance, let’s expand on the last point. During the 2008-2009 sub-prime crisis, this kind of multiple conflicts had many actors: builders, sellers, middlemen, buyers,  government, and rating agencies, to name a few. They all contributed, though at different levels, to creation and nurturing of the humongous credit bubble that created so much chaos and ruin when it burst.

Of course, the three previous factors are not mutually exclusive; they usually interact and reinforce each other, magnifying the situation. While no substantial progress is made in these three areas, it is virtually impossible to expect that bubbles will not happen again. At best, the expectation would be to create less inflated bubbles, if possible is to achieve a better understanding of economic cycles and to make substantial progress in risk-management. For that purpose: the following assumptions are important:

  • At the very minimum, to avoid serious damage when the inevitable breakdown occurs.
  • In a much better scenario, to benefit from the bubble’s creation and its rupture as much as possible. However, this requires great skill in handling the tools for this purpose. The complexity of this approach begins by defining and selecting which tools to use and weighing the options, as well as the corresponding hierarchy when the frequency mixed signals appear. Both efforts, although many more in the second case, require commitment, research, and experience of two basic types:
    1. technical competence, and
    2. emotional management.

 

Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction

positive effects of globalization

The original concept of creative destruction was introduced by the German economist and sociologist Werner Sombart (1863–1941) and developed and popularized by the brilliant Austrian-American economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950) in his book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942).

From Schumpeter’s perspective, the process of creative destruction refers to disruptive new business platforms, methods, processes, products, and services. Once significant inefficiencies and gaps in the status quo have been identified in any economy, the new developments replace the old, obsolete schemes. The new platforms come to life, invigorating and re-energizing society. Fortunately, much more is created than destroyed, that is, there is a substantial net gain involved; otherwise, the creative destruction process would not constitute a self-sustaining mechanism. In short, despite the unquestionable negative side-effects, on the average, by and large, the net effect is positive globalization.

Sadly, there rarely are any halfway measures for these cases; the usual situation is total substitution which, understandably, creates a painful disruptive impact for employees, suppliers, and investors of the industry or sector under transformation. There are countless examples of this phenomenon. Let’s mention three:

  • The substitution of vacuum tubes for transistors.
  • The introduction of automatic telephone switchboards to replace manual plug-in systems.
  • A relatively recent example of creative destruction has to do with newspapers and print media in general.

Let’s draw out the most recent example of creative destruction. For a few years already, there has been a systematic, and at times quite dramatic, decline in printed materials, more so in developed countries. The whole world is pointing in that direction, as the Internet provides free information and eases the process of electronically subscribing to newspapers and other media services. Subscription rates for electronic devices is substantially cheaper, not to mention immediately delivered, than printed; readers have, therefore, increasingly leaned towards the e-devices, using their tablets, mobile phones, or computers, rather than physically turning the pages of a printed newspaper or magazine. In addition, free newspapers have entered the market – yet another example of how technology is changing habits for the better. Of course, that cannibalization of print media in favor of e-reading has its limits. Print media is not going to vanish; however, the new equilibrium in print media is going to be found substantially below to what it was before.

In fact, creative destruction is society’s primary growth pattern. Fortunately it tends to be much more creative than destructive. Undoubtedly, one of the most typical mechanisms of positive globalization.

Unfortunately though, the destruction is inevitable. Operations that become obsolete sooner or later are affected by a wave of renewal, and eventually disappear from the market or will be minimized. Mahatma Gandhi’s dictum “Do or die” illustrates the phenomenon quite well.

Free-market mechanisms have proven to be the best instruments to add value to society despite the often rude lessons they inflict, such as the never-ending creative destruction processes inherent to them.

Globalization Wins Five Stars in ForeWord Clarion Review

Reviews are important for authors, because it shows other’s approve of their work, and offers readers insight into the work that is objective. Today my book earned a five out of five star rating and was reviewed by ForeWord Clarion Reviews,  a print magazine and online review service for readers, booksellers, book buyers, publishing insiders, universities and librarians. Read the review here.

ForeWord Clarion Review reaches 20,000 print subscribers and about 150,000 people visit the review service’s website every month.

Among the comments of the reviewer, Barry Silverstein wrote, “The second section of Globalization, titled ‘Around the World in Ten Chapters,’ should prove to be exceptionally useful to any corporate manager who needs insight into the economic viability of virtually every region of the world.”

“The breadth and depth of Globalization suggests this book could be the single reference required for the reader who needs to know more about any aspect of the global economy.”

My intention for writing this book is to show people how current globalization movement can effect them, but more important to help them find answers to engage the globalization movement. So the comment from Silverstein is approps.

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