Globalization in different eras
Authored by: Sean  

Today everyone talks about globalization in many dimensions – availability of global brands everywhere, the internet flattening the world, technology making it easy to communicate with someone across the oceans and so on. But stop for just a minute to think about whether globalization is really just a modern phenomenon. Human civilization is a product of such globalization is it not? When one man or family decided to migrate out of Africa or wherever their home was and look beyond the horizon, was it not globalization of sorts? Wherever they made their new home in, they would bring their culture and mores into that society!

Image – By original file turned by 180°, Circled Letters in the image also turned, color legend turned, inkscape-SVG [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Take maritime exploration. Way back in the year 1511, António de Abreu, a naval officer from Portugal set off to explore routes to the island of Maluku. Vasco da Gama, Christopher Colombus, Ferdinand Magellan and Leif Ericson are all early “globalizers”. They sought spices, silks, slaves (as morally and politically incorrect as it was and still is), new lands to conquer and were driven by curiosity. The whole point was to plant the flag of their parent country on new soil.


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Probably the next era of globalization took place when multinational companies spread their tentacles into markets hitherto untapped. These companies emerged from a few places around the globe and put branded baby food, perfumes, soaps and a zillion other products into remote villages and little towns. Create a need and then fulfil it – the simple credo by which MNCs became successful. Exquisite attention was paid during this era of globalization to branding, marketing communications and cultural sensibilities.


Today, globalization truly and undeniably, belongs to technology. Outsourcing, cost effectiveness and social networking have made it possible for businesses to enjoy a certain leveling of the playing field. Even small ‘tech-preneurs’ can make a killing simply by creating a new app or writing code and then selling it to the big names in the world. One product or service can be rendered to you or brought into your home by team members sitting in Singapore, India, US, Germany, Bolivia and Hong Kong – and you will probably never even know it!



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Probably these eras of globalization have also been differentiated on the basis of the motives. Early maritime exploration certainly had religious overtones. Probably even imperialist overtones. The aim was to establish dominion over heathens and ‘non-believers’. As far as multinational corporate bodies were concerned, it really was about brands and markets. Using technology to globalize is all about cost effectiveness.


Call centers and outsourcing routine jobs to where the labor is cheapest is something that has given commerce an opportunity to become even more competitive. Call a helpline and you may be routed effortlessly to a young person sitting in Indonesia or some city in India who would be able to answer you in accented English or some other language. For sure, globalization has been around since time immemorial! With differences only in the tools used, aims and the end results achieved.

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