Why we should all think global and act local

Burbank, California; February,2003;
Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student

As I was surfing the net to find a topic that could be interesting enough to write about, I came across some fascinating headings on one of the major news sites. These headings presented a broad range of issues, varying from a jump in gas prices to an unemployment decrease in the U.S. that nevertheless should not yet be perceived as encouraging as it was just caused by seasonal adjustments from the Department of Labor. However, stated the article when I clicked to read further: since this decrease has already turned out to be larger than it has been in the past two years, this may create room for some careful enthusiasm. In the international part of the site I saw a note that Europe is not in the mood for the U.S. job boost, and that due to the negative spiral this continent currently finds itself in, stocks on almost all fronts have sunk significantly.

I couldn't help but realize once again how globally oriented our daily life has become. Everything is just a click away. "Competitors" are not just the stores in the same neighborhood, town, county, or even country, but all producers of the product or service you are making or selling in the whole wide world! More impressive even: "competitors" are also the ones that produce goods and services that in one way or another represent an alternative to your stuff. And lastly, "competitors" are also the ones that will come up with an alternative to your good or service in the near future.

The world has become transparent: a see-through entity that, like all others, signifies advantages and disadvantages at the same time. One of the advantages is that we have much better insight in "what's out there." We can compare prices and order from the cheapest supplier, wherever he may be located, after having the computer add and subtract the different costs that accompany such an order. A major disadvantage is that the work climate becomes even less stable than it already was, because consciousness in product prices, -costs, and -availability by potential customers means: more competition for employers and, hence, more risks for lay offs to employees.

No wonder that not everybody praises the principle of globalization, since it means that, with the practically unlimited access we now have to all kinds of information, weaker and smaller economies are easily overpowered by stronger and bigger ones where people produce much larger quantities and a much higher quality from a certain good, and can therefore afford it to be cheaper in price yet better in value: Tough one to overcome, isnít it? An article that I recently read, discussed the face of globalization, and questioned whether this phenomenon is actually a disguised form of American imperialism (Americanization), or really an attempt to bring the world closer together. Fortunately for the U.S., the article concluded that if you combine Europe, Asia, and Canada, they represent a larger percentage in global business transactions together, than the U.S. alone. But whoever turns out to be the ultimate profiteer in this matter, fact is that we are citizens of a global village these days. Our concerns don't end anymore within the borders of our country: our responsibility has increased. If today's companies use resources from almost all countries in the world to produce their goods, then the citizens of all countries in the world are part of "our society."

And then it may be wise to wonder what sense it makes to fill out ethnic backgrounds in any setting where itís not directly needed for medical or other research purposes. For maybe the level to which we nowadays get confronted with the world as a global village, will finally force us to realize that humankind is humankind; that nothing goes wrong if members of one human ethnic group interbreed with members of another; and that there are more important things to worry about these days than gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference in our efforts to make this village we all belong to continue its existence. Maybe we will realize that the biggest beauty of globalization is that borders donít exist anymore: not between countries, not between goods and services, and certainly not between human beings. How hard can that be to encompass?