In most human endeavors, from the industrial revolution to this day, specialization has increasingly been the norm in global society.Unquestionably, specialization has a lot of merit and practical advantages; that is why specialization has become such an integral part of modern society. During recent decades, however, the pendulum has tilted excessively in that direction, to such an extent that nowadays it is very rare to find professionals, all in a single person, with the qualifications and gusto for a general, holistic approach to problem solving. That is certainly the case across the whole professional spectrum, from physicians to engineers.
Social sciences are not the exception to this phenomena. For instance, very legitimate fields of specialization in political science typically read: migration, gender and race/ethnicity issues, campaign finance, interest groups politics, political regulation, applied democratic theory, representation and state politics, education, health and nutrition challenges, to name just a few. In short, highly specialized and indispensable fields, mostly very worthwhile bottom-up approaches to so many challenges that have to be confronted and resolved. Albeit, concentration in top-down aspects of globalization are ostensibly absent.
Almost invariably, experience has repeatedly shown that a well executed Zoom-In/Zoom-Out approach pays dearly. In other words, it is imperative to see and work on the trees on a daily basis, but never at the expense of losing sight of the entire forest. In many respects, a world mainly of specialists, like nowadays, hardly fits the bill.
The world should not continue to approach global challenges with mostly local solutions. All too often, local rigidities and dysfunctionalities get in the way of otherwise fair and constructive global processes. The labor market is an excellent example of this. Granted, also all too often these global processes are impregnated with a great dosage of creative destruction within themselves. Make no mistake about it: However well understood the creative destruction concept is perceived, it is very painful and difficult to overcome (chiefly in the short-term), particularly for the minorities in the losing end of the global process. Hence, the inevitable creative destruction process is a foremost reason behind all fear and grief behind a great deal of the globalization process, in the socio-economic side.
Being anxiety and fear such prevalent emotions, many global processes are resisted at best and repudiated at worst, understandably so. The solution, however, does not reside in evading globalization. That cannot be done for long, nor for good. Hence, the sooner we learn to successfully adapt to globalization … the better.
The EU, in fact, is an excellent example of the many pitfalls and limitations that a piecemeal, not holistic enough approach implies. The overwhelming benefits of a profound integration, a true European confederation of states, is evident. Nonetheless, the enormous political difficulties that prior definitions leading to a meaningful confederation imply is what has been causing a permanent attitude of kicking-the-can-down-the-road approach among the major players, until now. This has been a very human and understandable approach, yet an indeed elusive, highly dysfunctional way of trying to solve things.
In any complex socioeconomic and political situation, as long as the Cost/Benefit and the opportunity cost concepts are not clearly and sensibly incorporated into the equation, any adjustment process will be unduly painful and/or unnecessarily prolonged. These couple of concepts, the cost/benefit and the opportunity cost involved, are of paramount importance. In the EU’s case, that has been utterly evident.
Likewise, the incentives factor is also foremost. That is, the major reason behind an inappropriate assessment of the cost/benefit equation in the political world lies in a mostly horrendous set of wrong incentives at work. Let’s mention the most obvious one. It is not an exaggeration to state that most of the endeavors of key political players, with almost no exceptions, is permanently focused in retaining power or regaining it, depending upon the particular circumstance. Consequently, most of the time, short-term considerations prevail over long-term, strategic ones. That is neither an intelligent, nor an effective way to overcome so many challenges that require statesmanship, a reasonably balanced long-term perspective for effective problem solutions.
The poor state of affairs in most contemporary profound socio-economic challenges (and opportunities) has to do with a highly dysfunctional political system across the globe. And that should not be a surprise.The world’s present socio political system has not experienced any major evolutionary virtuous change since the dawn of the USA. Hence, its current ineffectiveness in addressing major problems.
An appropriate understanding and observance of governance is a sine qua non condition for success. That is another way of defining the poor state of global affairs now.
Our suggestion about the need for a generalist approach is in addition to, not instead of. All great bottom-up work being done must continue to be done and improved. Most of the current research and analysis is very well conducted and useful. But it is not enough. A holistic, top-down approach to enhance and boost all valuable bottom-up endeavors must also be simultaneously at work. It is not one or the other. Both approaches are indispensable, if appropriately done, both approaches reinforce each other. It is the only known way to maximum effectiveness.
Contemporary global needs (and its corresponding opportunities) pose an imperative requirement that is far from being well served: the need to develop what can be termed as Global Society Strategists.