What exactly does globalization mean? Concepts related to globalization include “internationalization”, “multidomestic marketing”, and “multinational or transnational marketing”, suggesting that the basic criterion is transactions across national boundaries. In the marketing and strategic management literature, globalization is conceptualized as a means to gain competitive advantage by locating different stages of production in different geographic regions according to the particular region’s comparative advantage. This conceptualization focuses only on the economic aspects of globalization; social, cultural and political factors are only considered in the context of achieving economic advantage. Thus, being “culturally sensitive” in global markets is being able to sell one’s product with enough ingenuity to avoid possible pitfalls arising from the seller’s ignorance of local customs. International marketing textbooks discuss such cultural pitfalls in great detail; however, the cultural contest of globalization is always framed by the economy.
Broader conceptualization of globalization can be found in other disciplines such as sociology and anthropology. Waters defined globalization as “a social process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede and in which people become increasingly aware that they are receding.” This conceptualization with its much broader scope, allows for the examination of a number of consequences of globalization, not jut economic but social, cultural and political ones.
While there are a few different conceptualizations of globalization, researchers seem to be in agreement that there are at least three dimensions of globalization: economic, political and cultural. The economic aspects of globalization stem from the spread of the capitalist world economy and the resulting expansion of goods and services. The need for cheap raw materials, cheap labor and new markets saw the expansion of the capitalist world economy from one that was primarily Eurocentric to one that encompassed the entire world. This process was achieved by various means and often involved overcoming political resistances in the new markets. The political aspects of globalization involved establishing control over markets and raw materials through either the use of direct military power or the establishment of international institutions that control such markets. The rise of the nation-state is an example of the political aspect of globalization, although it is argued that advances in telecommunications and information systems and the resulting constructions of institutions that transience territorial boundaries are making the nation-state obsolete.
If the economic and political aspects of globalization involve material and power exchanges, the cultural of globalization involves the expression of symbols that represents facts, meanings, beliefs, preferences, tastes and values. In fact, these symbolic exchanges are increasingly displacing economic and political exchanges in the spread of global mass culture. Traditional barriers of language pose no problems to modem means of cultural production such as satellite television and film. However, the new “global culture”, despite its manifestations through consumption of global products and symbols in different part of the globe, is essentially the culture of dominant groups centered in the West.