Transnational Corporations: Fragmentation Amidst Integration

By Grazia Ietto-Gillies | Go to book overview

1

Globalisation, new technologiesand transnationals

1.1Introduction

The last two decades of the second millennium have seen very considerable developments worldwide in many aspects of economic and social life. Most changes have their roots in two main basic structural elements: (a) a very high degree of interconnectedness of world economies usually referred to as globalisation and (b) the adoption and diffusion of new technologies particularly those related to communication and information. These two elements are interlinked and affect each other.

Globalisation has now become an everyday household term, used to characterise, explain, and justify many current economic and social developments. The term and its common usage convey the impression that it is potentially and actually possible for ordinary people and economic actors to get in touch, interact and do business with other people and communities worldwide. The expression has also increasingly come to be associated with the feeling that economic activity, events and processes have a pattern and life of their own and that we cannot - and should not - do much to alter them.

The public at large usually interprets a high degree of globalisation and international integration to mean and imply that: we travel more; we communicate with the rest of the world more quickly; we receive images and sounds of news in real time; we are able to buy the same type of car or jeans or hamburger in Dallas, Rome, Beijing, Moscow or Mexico City; we can do business all over the world. In other words, our consumption, production, exchange, leisure and culture activities are more integrated with the rest of the world.

The ease and speed of communication increases the perception of integration by making people aware of problems and opportunities in remote parts of the world. It also heightens the awareness of the global nature of some problems which, at first sight, might appear to be local, such as environmental problems, human rights issues, local wars. Far from being local, these problems and issues have become global and are now generally perceived as such (Held et al., 1999).

Globalisation and international integration are usually considered to be part of the same process and this is how they will be seen in the rest of this

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