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The Business Forum Journal


Globalization: The 21st Century Paradigm

By Henry H. Goldman, Ph.D



Shortly before the end of the Twentieth Century, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) issued an interesting and provocative report for its members with the title, Challenges and Opportunities in Global Training and Development. [1] The authors correctly asserted that, "globalization is changing the way [that] the world does [conducts] business."  They concluded that there [would be] numerous opportunities for those in the training and development fields for expanded work in the new global marketplace of the 21st century.

Joan E. Spero, former Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, addressing, "the Challenges of Globalization," before the World Economic Development Congress in September of 1996, emphatically proclaimed that participation in the global economy [was] no longer a choice but a necessity." [2] 

We have been aware and involved in the globalization of business since the early 1990s.  We noted, with a great deal of interest, that full globalization hinges, to a great degree, "on the behavioral alignment of the human component." [3]  The underlying suggestion is that the human psyche must, somehow, "align" itself to some predetermined human behavior model.  The truth, we believe, may be somewhat different.

One of the most basic concepts of globalization is that people and cultures are different.  That recognition is precisely the reason why some organizations are extremely successful in the global arena, while others fail dismally.  Failure to understand the "human component" has and will continue to cause companies to abandon their international interests.  A classic example of failure to recognize the differences in humanity can be seen in one major consumer products company's attempts at selling American style washing machines in Germany.  In spite of a growing market for American goods, the washing machines failed to excite the German consumers.  The reason was simple: most German households do not have the necessary available space to accommodate American style washing machines and automatic dryers.  European manufactures of similar products produce stacked machines, which, of course, occupies far less space.  The American company might have been more successful if a certain amount of market research had been conducted before the company entered the global market. 

One is reminded of the story about a British shoe manufacturer that wanted to open a market in Africa.  A company representative was dispatched thereto to determine if there might be a market for the company's products.  The agent toured the continent, north to south, and concluded that no market existed: people did not wear shoes.

A competitor also eyed the African market.  That company's representative viewed the market place quite differently.  He cabled back to headquarters that, since no one wore shoes, the market was wide open.  Using the analogy already stated, the representative of the second shoe manufacturer read the "human component" in a way that was far different from the first firm's agent.  An understanding of that difference made one firm successful in the global market and the other, a failure.

Globalization demands a new symbiosis of government, business and civil society   ...  Globalization asks for governance beginning with civil society, translating itself in the tendency of transnational corporations to internalize societal values in their mission statements, in codes of conduct and in their behavior." [4]

The Twenty-first Century permits new technologies to be implemented in the globalization of business.  New modalities have become the paradigm of the new century.  We have already seen the future.  We know, just a little, about what to expect.  We are constantly searching for new ways of transmitting information, new ways to communicate ideas.

The "challenges and opportunities" for globalization transcend any particular discipline.  They, themselves, are global in outlook, global in their perspective.  As more and more companies expand their markets and increase their presence in the global arena, new challenges as well as new opportunities will arise in all sectors of the world's economy.  As we know, the techniques of delivering quality higher education to a global student body have changed drastically within the last year, alone.  We can only glimpse the future through lenses that always need polishing.  We have accepted the challenges and have sought out the opportunities.  The Twenty-first Century is now almost ten percent complete.  We are positioned within a global environment and are well within the new technologies.

The windows of opportunity are open.  Globalization is the new paradigm.  


 Friedman, Thomas L. The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization.  New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1999.

 Friedman, Thomas L. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2005.

Gilpin, Robert.  The Challenge of Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Scruton, Robert.  The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat.  Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2002.

Stiglitz, Joseph E.  Globalization and Its Discontents.  New York: Norton, 2002. 

Henry H. Goldman is a Fellow of The Business Forum Institute and is the Managing Director of the Goldman Nelson Group.  Henry got his Masters Degree at the University of Iowa and did his Doctoral Studies at the University of Southern California.  He is a Certified Professional Consultant to Management (CPCM); and has published numerous articles in trade journals and was Associate Editor of Taking Stock: A Survey on the Practice and Future of Change Management (Berlin, Germany).  He is a member of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD); Association of Professional Consultants (APC) and the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC). Henry has consulted and/or offered training in South Africa, Tanzania, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Barbados, Georgia, Kosovo, Tajikistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and of course North America. He has also taught at Baker University: Lee’s Summit, MO, 2008, Adjunct Professor of International Business; National Graduate School: Falmouth, MA, 2004-2008, Adjunct Professor of Quality Management; California State University: Fullerton, 2005-2006, Lecturer on Taxation; University of California: Berkeley, 2002, Adjunct Professor of Management; University of Macau (China), Adjunct Professor of Management, 2001-2003.

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