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December 29, 2008

The World Is Still Round

Catherine New
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Globalization is:

A) The future; it is an irresistible and growing part of economic reality.

B) The dominant force shaping the world’s economies.

C) The fate of the world’s workers and businesses, who must adapt or suffer the consequences.

D) The irrational fear that someone in China will steal your job.

If you picked D, congratulations. You’re ready for the central teachings of Professor Bruce C. Greenwald and Judd Kahn’s new book, glob•ali•za’•tion (n): The Irrational Fear That Someone in China Will Take Your Job (Wiley, 2008).

The slender volume sets out to redefine the term which has become a household catchphrase. The authors make the argument that many of the fundamental assumptions about globalization (see answers A, B and C) are “either highly questionable or largely false.” Instead they argue that globalization is not a new trend, that crucial local forces such as improvements in productivity and changes in demand are ignored, and that hard data has been selectively used or underused in favor of anecdotal evidence.

As the book’s title suggests, the authors argue that job security or the lack thereof, is one of the bigger misconceptions in the commonly held idea of globalization. They write:

People in Europe and America currently concerned about globalization focus on the loss of jobs in manufacturing and routine services, which they fear will either be imported from China or provided by a back office or call center in India. Yet improvements in productivity and changes in demand are doing to manufacturing and routine services what they did to agriculture in the 19th century — making them cheaper and therefore less central to the economy. Ignoring these powerful trends and other broad forces at work produces a distorted view of the impact and significance of globalization.

Do you agree with the authors’ opinions on globalization? Disagree? Please leave your comments.