Academic journal article Journal of American & Comparative Cultures

Global and Local Culture in the 21st Century

Academic journal article Journal of American & Comparative Cultures

Global and Local Culture in the 21st Century

Article excerpt

The economic, technological, and political forces of globalization are having dramatic effects on local communities and personal identities. Labor, financial, and commodity markets are becoming interconnected and globalized at an accelerating rate. Production and consumption are occurring less and less in local markets and more and more in global markets. Multinational enterprises and sophistical forms of technology are the locomotive forces driving these dramatic changes.

What an innocent American consumer may think of as "Made in America" is the product of factories located in many different parts of the world and is made with labor from many different countries. Cross-border alliances in industries such as computers and automobiles have resulted in a global car and a global computer. In today's world, brand name does not determine who owns a company that produces a particular commodity, nor where that commodity is produced. For example, Eastman Kodak operates in 170 countries, has the majority of its sales outside the United States, and nearly half of its employees are non-American. It even has a photography shop and a processing lab in Antarctica. The Dodge Caravan is assembled in Windsor, Ontario; the Jaguar, thought of as British, is wholly-owned by Ford; and the Swedish Saab is now whollyowned by General Motors.

The liberalization of world markets has been accompanied by the benefits of economic efficiency. Drawing upon the theory of comparative advantage in production, globalization results in greater efficiency by allowing an optimal location of a firm's activities. Enlarging markets beyond national borders allows global firms to create dynamic gains in efficiency through economies of scale. Firms operating internationally are usually more competitive in both their home and foreign markets. Globalization of production has the potential for dynamic change and growth through technological upgrading and innovation in countries that attract multinational investments. However, for developing countries, these benefits depend upon the role assigned to local affiliates and on the extent to which local affiliates become integrated into the national production framework.

Changes in the global environment have emerged with the rapid growth of foreign direct investment and international collaboration between firms. As the importance of foreign direct investment and international inter-firm agreements have grown in importance, the strategies of multi-- national businesses are operating in new ways leading to the globalization of industry and the expansion of world trade. Improvements in technology, trade liberalization policies, and the rise of international production have facilitated the rapid development of multinational corporations.

The rise of highly globalized multinationals has weakened their identification with any one nation. Senior executives in these firms no longer equate superiority with the nationality of the country in which their headquarters reside. Executives now seek the best qualified employees, regardless of nationality, to solve the country's problems anywhere in the world. The approach of these geocentric executives, to use Perlmutter's (1972) term, is to create a collaborative effort between affiliates and headquarters to establish universal standards and to meet the goals of both the affiliates and headquarters. When a corporation realizes the need to mobilize its resources on a world scale, it will sooner or later have to face the reality that the home country does not have a monopoly on quality personnel and ideas (Perlmutter 63-64).

The globalization of economic activity heightens the importance of links between nation-states as never before. This is because globalization increases the need for closer cooperation among governments at the international level. Inter-linkages between different levels of policy making are increased as the lines between national and international activities become blurred. …

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