What Is Globalization?

(cc) photo by Cubosh on Flickr

The common perception is that globalization has to do exclusively with global matters. And generally speaking, that is true. Globalization’s genesis is knowledge and what we choose or don’t choose to do with it. This involves taking in something that comes from the outside and making it one’s own –expanding the base of knowledge. So, every time we expand our knowledge we are increasing our level of interaction with the world, and therefore globalizing.

This means that even a single person is capable of expanding his or her own horizons and mind. This act in itself is an act of globalization. Like Einstein so brilliantly stated:

“The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.”

In other words, globalization can be defined as the process of putting together building blocks of knowledge throughout time, while interacting with the world around us. Naturally, not all building blocks are of a constructive nature; sometimes they have been destructive. In this regard, globalization can be compared to capitalism. Neither of those processes has achieved a perfection status (no human process has, or ever will). Still, on the average, by and large, globalization has proved to be far more constructive than destructive. An empirical demonstration of this is the permanence and functionality of globalization throughout mankind’s existence; globalization has been the ever-present means of mankind’s evolution.

In short, every progress and setback that humankind has gone through has been a result of globalization and its constant interactions. More on this in my book Globalization: Opportunities & Implications.

Globalization is an ancient process. An ever-present phenomenon. The first spark of globalization was lit when the first exchange of ideas and/or goods took place, taking us thousands of years back in time.

The concept of global, social, and economic human activity and all its multiple interrelationships is thus, not new at all; it has been around since the beginning of mankind. Yet the focus, diffusion, intensity, amplitude, and spontaneity with which this phenomenon has presented itself in recent decades are remarkably new.

To fully understand globalization, we must always keep in mind these six principles:

  • It is permanent and irreversible. Given its profound roots in human nature.
  • It is omnipresent. There isn’t an instance or place untouched by globalization.
  • It is multidisciplinary. It needs to be analyzed from multiple perspectives, in a holistic way.
  • It is not optional. The choice is not in whether we embrace it or not. It is in how we embrace it.
  • It cannot be controlled. Nobody controls the process of globalization for an extended period of time, regardless of the size and influence they may have, since globalisation is the collective interaction of individuals, organizations, and nations evolving through time.
  • It is meritocratic. The natural selection process is highly applicable to the way globalization works (survival of the fittest).

Globalization is then, the individual and collective (organizations, nations, regions, and the world) evolving process derived from the constant interactions in our learning experience (individual and collective). It is a continuum of sorts.

From my perspective, the major contribution that globalization can provide is how to apply mankind’s accumulated knowledge, experiences, and tools to close the colossal per capita income gap between the richest and the poorest nations on earth, in a systematic, massive scale.

During 2012, the 29 richest nations on earth, those whose output per capita exceeded $30,000 a year—13% of the world’s population—generated 48% of the world’s total output, whereas the the 51 poorest, the failed states, those whose output per capita was below $3,000 a year and comprising 18% of the world’s population, generated only 2% of the world’s total output!

The magnitude of that brutal mismatch is profoundly wrong, socially and morally unacceptable, and economically unsustainable, from a global standpoint. Yet, at the same time, embedded within that humongous disparity lies the greatest wealth creation opportunity of our generation. More on this here.



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