The Paradox of Globalization

Sunday, March 23, 2014, by Eliane Karsaklian

globalizationWe’ve been hearing a lot about globalization as a phenomenon bringing people together thanks to their homogeneous needs, wants and consumption habits. We’ve been introduced to global brands and can now buy them in multiple countries. But how true is it that everybody wants to have the same products and the same lifestyle?

How assertive can we be about globalization when we see several cultures reinforcing their own cultural values by imposing their way of doing business with foreigners?

Take the emerging countries as an example. Several years ago, they would follow the lead of the most powerful countries in the world — that is Europe and the United States. Styles, products and brands coming from the leading counties were always welcome because they made people dream about a better life. Some of these dreams of better lives were strongly stimulated by movies and TV shows, which featured perfect people in perfect houses and cars, living perfect lives with happy endings.

But now, these countries are realizing that their home products and cultures are as good or even better than those in the historically more powerful countries. They are exporting their products and imposing their way of doing business to foreign business people.

As a result, business people from the formerly powerful countries are learning how to deal with other cultures as this is all new to them. Before, they were not the ones needing to understand and adjust. They could handle business as they did back home. Now, they need to adjust to local habits if they want to be successful abroad.

So this is the paradox of globalization. People are attracted to what everyone has and happy to buy the same brands and work the same way, but at the same time, they are looking for individuation and customization. They want to be like everyone, but one of a kind at the same time.

It is hard to satisfy such consumers, as companies need to find the perfect balance between standardization and adaptation. It is also tough to know how to behave during international negotiations. If we adjust too much, if might look fake; if we don’t adjust enough, we just don’t get the business done.

Contact me if you would like to learn more about how we open doors to opportunities in any country.  

  • Francene Stanley

    I agree that each country should treasure their uniqueness.
    I read the other day that the Chinese president, or whatever title he goes by, is insisting on all young men adopting his haircut. That’s not the sort of thing I meant. Sounds like dictatorship to me.

  • Carrie Ann Tripp

    The age old question. Each generation wants to be “different” and yet each member of that generation strives to fit in with it’s own generation. Therefore all becoming the same. Individualization as opposed to society norms is a hard line to walk. Different usually ends up with negative connotations.

  • bob

    deez nutts