The Spatial Dimensions of
Michael L. Silk, David L. Andrews and C.L. Cole
Despite being published more than twenty years ago, Theodore Levitt's provocative Harvard Business Review article, “The Globalization of Markets”, continues to underpin debates pertaining to the nature and influence of economic globalization (Quelch, 2003). Indeed, in many respects, it represented the stimulus – in terms of being a critical point of comparison and departure – for the current project. Widely lambasted at the time of publication by academics for its allencompassing relentless homogenization, Levitt's thesis was embraced by corporate executives who marketed standardized products globally – consumers worldwide, after years of “deprivation”, were thus able to consume the forbidden fruits of American brands (Quelch, 2003). Levitt (1983) predicted the sophisticated attempts by global corporations to command the widest possible market base (through penetration of local cultures by the economics and imagery of global capitalism), and thereby accrue the benefits derived from the realization of colossal economies of scale. In this early stage of corporate globalization, Levitt famously identified that companies operated “as if the entire world (or major regions of it) were a single, largely identical entity” and subsequently attempted to sell the “same things in the same way everywhere” (Levitt, 1983, p. 22).
Despite enthusiasm from within the corporate ranks, Levitt's mantra appeared to stall with increased competition and responses, from local brands and from backlash against global brand saturation. Most organizations soon realized the impracticability of treating the global market as a single, homogenous entity. The advancement of capitalism has always been about the overcoming of spatial constraints as a means of improving the flow of goods from producer to consumer (Hall, 1991; Morley, 1995), but this intrinsically rationalizing logic of market capitalism came unstuck when faced by the “warm appeal of national affiliations and attachments” (Robins, 1997, p. 20). So, rather than attempting to neuter