History of Globalization Estle Harlan Harlan Business Consultants Tim Rahschulte, Ph.D., Professor George Fox University
Abstract The historical context of globalization covers centuries. This paper divides those centuries into three eras. The first era covers the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries and views globalization through the lens of individuals who struggled to overcome natural, governmental, religious and economic barriers in their quest for wealth, freedom, position, and power. Throughout this era, the world of commerce was encumbered by territorial boundaries. The second era covers the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and saw great technological advances in transportation, machinery, livability, and communication. This allowed the masses to participate in an expanding economy and to experience territorial compression. The third era covers the twenty-first century (to date) and bears witness to the explosion of information technology. This explosion enables an international community to participate in a globalized economy, and it challenges participants to deal with the impacts of global compression. It was not until this third era that technology shattered the remaining barriers to globalization so that international business could flourish. Keywords: barriers, communications, culture, economics, environment, flat, forces, globalization, history, information technology, international business, politics, technology History of Globalization Only in the last two decades has the term globalization become commonplace, and that is due to the advancement of information technology (Scheuerman, 2010). The current concept of globalization represents a flattened, borderless, non-territorial world where interests of business
and society overlap, and where information technology allows business to be conducted as though it were a single place (Friedman, 2007; Ohmae, 1995; Renesch, 1992; Robertson, 1995; Scheuerman, 2010). Some posit that the historical roots for globalization go back millenniums because of trade links for carrying on business that existed between early civilizations (Frank, 1998). Friedman (2007) indicates the first true era of globalization did not begin until 1492 when Columbus set sail and opened trade between the Old World and the New World (p. 9). Whether we go back millennia or centuries, the world of those times represented a territorial place. It was fettered by cultural, societal, and political borders that could not be breached. Friedman (2007) states the second era of globalization began around 1800 (p. 9). In this second era, technology was the catalyst for breaking down many territorial barriers to globalization. The emergence of reliable and relatively fast transportation and the universal usage of communication by telegraph or telephone were globally life-altering. In 1848 social theorist Karl Marx formulated an explanation for territorial compression by saying that the influences of capitalist production “drove the bourgeoisie to nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, and establish connections everywhere,” paving the way for “intercourse in every direction [and] universal interdependence of nations” (Marx, 1848, p. 476). One can understand the historical context of these words more fully if they are viewed in light of significant global “flattening” events (Friedman, 2007, p. ix) over the 50 years preceding the statement: 1803 Robert Fulton developed the steamboat and sailed it on the Seine River (France). 1804-06 Merriweather Lewis and William Clark blazed an overland trail from the eastern 1812 John Blenkinsop (U.K.) built the first cog railway. 1814 George Stephenson (U.K.) built the first successful steam locomotive. 1815 U.S. built the first steam warship. 1820 Thomas Robert Malthus (U.K.) wrote Principles of Political Economy. 1821 James Mill (U.K.) wrote Elements of Political Economy. 1822 Gas street lighting was introduced in Boston. 1824 Joseph Aspdin...
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