Reporting: Synthesis

Exercise 27

Read the articles below and, in a paragraph of not more than 250 words, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of globalisation.

Globalisation is the tendency for the world economy to work as one unit, led by large international companies doing business all over the world. Some of the things that have led to globalisation are the ending of trade barriers, the free movement of capital, cheap transport and the increased use of electronic systems of communication such as the Internet.

(From: Longman business English dictionary, published in London by Longman in 2000.)

These new channels of communication have helped spread a homogenous and largely commercial culture. Disney movies are children's food the world over. Barbie dolls, fast-food restaurants, hip-hop music and corporate-driven, American-style youth culture attract millions of new converts from the bidonvilles of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, to the wealthy suburbs of Sydney. Alternatively you can now find a dazzling variety of 'ethnic' foods - including Thai, Szechwan, Mexican and Indian - throughout Europe, North America and Australia. In fact, many residents and visitors to Britain believe globalisation and the resulting 'fusion' of cuisine is the best thing to happen to English cooking in the past 500 years.

There is every reason to believe this global exchange of people, products, plants, animals, technologies and ideas will continue into the future. The process of change is unstoppable. And that is not such a bad thing. In many ways it is a positive process containing the seeds of a better future for all the world's people. Globalisation cannot help but be a positive force for change if we come to recognize the common thread of humanity that ties us together.


However, gaps between rich and poor are widening, decision-making power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, local cultures are wiped out, biological diversity is destroyed, regional tensions are increasing and the environment is nearing the point of collapse. That is the sad reality of globalisation, an opportunity for human progress whose great potential has been thwarted. Instead we have a global economic system which feeds on itself while marginalizing the fundamental human needs of people and communities.

(From an article by David Ransome called Globalisation - an alternative view. It was in the magazine: New Internationalist, in 1997. It was in volume 296, and the article was on pages 7-10. This quotation was from page 8.)

Globalisation is a new word which describes an old process: the integration of the global economy that began in earnest with the launch of the European colonial era five centuries ago. But the process has accelerated over the past quarter century with the explosion of computer technology, the dismantling of trade barriers and the expanding political and economic power of multinational corporations.

(This is from a book called: The no-nonsense guide to globalisation by Wayne Ellwood. It was published in London by Verso in 2001. The quotation is from page 12.)

Globalisation is increasing inequality and poverty worldwide as national governments lose the ability to control their development strategies and policies. Political solutions are needed to reinvigorate democratic control both North and South. But political reforms need to be combined with particular mechanisms for structural reform. In combination these should put meaningful employment and human rights at the heart of economic policy, boost local control and decision-making, and restore  the ecological health and natural capital of our planet.

(This is also from: The no-nonsense guide to globalisation. This quotation is from page 107.)

As close as a group can get to global

Most of us would look at Brazil, Belgium and Bangladesh and see three different cultures. Al Zeien, chief executive of Gillette, the US razor maker, simply sees a lot of people in need of a shave. He believes Gillette is a "global" company in the way few corporations are.

"A multinational has operations in different countries," he says. "A global company views the world as a single country. We know Argentina and France are different, but we treat them the same. We sell them the same products, we use the same production methods, we have the same corporate policies. We even use the same advertising, in a different language, of course."

The company's one-size-fits-all strategy has been effective. The group makes items almost everyone in the world buys at one time or another, including shavers, batteries and pens. It aims to dominate the markets it operates in: its share of the worldwide shavers market, for example, is 70 per cent, which the company hopes to increase by the launch next week of a new razor for men.

To make sure managers worldwide are on the same wavelength, Mr Zeien insists they move from country to country and division to division. Being moved around places them in the role of "idea ambassadors" who can transfer concepts. "I believe in diagonal promotions," he says. "You don't move up in a nice progression through one area or country."

Managers joining Gillette should expect to be geographically relocated three or four times in their first dozen years. During the last few years, Mr Zeien has concentrated on increasing the number of Americans in overseas posts, and the time foreign managers spend in the US.

There are problems with his approach, he admits. Being transferred from country to country can be hard on staff. People in dual-career marriages, he says, probably should not work for Gillette. The company's commitment to standardisation, moreover, costs it customers in niche markets within countries.

Mr Zeien long ago decided the drawbacks were worth suffering. "I tell my workers all the time that we'll only be in markets where we can be number one," he says. "Focus is what gives us bang for the buck."

(This was by the journalist Victoria Griffith. It was published in the Financial Times on 7th April 1998, p. 10.)


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