To coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Global Network for Advanced Management in April 2017, Global Network Perspectives asked faculty across the 29 schools in the network: "What do you think the future of globalization looks like? How will this affect the economy in your country or region? How is your school preparing students for this world?" Read all of the responses. Also, in a session at the anniversary symposium, a panel of experts—including former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry—led a discussion of the future of globalization and its implications for business and management education. Watch the video.
The United States, together with its European allies and institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have supported globalization, arguing that it improves efficiency and output and leads to better allocation of the factors of production. For example, the argument that a global firm can purchase raw materials at the lowest cost possible in one country, raise finance at the lowest cost from another country, and manufacture or sell its products or services in different parts and regions of the world is a testament to the importance of globalization.
Ironically, the bigger players in the globalization process have for some time now acted in a manner that can be construed as showing “globalization fatigue.” For instance, in countries like the United States, there are arguments that jobs have been lost to foreigners because of globalization. The campaign rhetoric of then-candidate and now President Trump has consistently been to urge the big global American companies to stay at home and perhaps keep or retain jobs in the United States. In addition to perceived job losses to foreigners, rampant terrorist attacks in Europe over the last couple of years have together led to growing anti-immigration sentiments in Europe. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the growing popularity of ultra–far right political parties in Europe are an important testament to this fact.
It is indeed surprising that the supposed champions of globalization seem to be retreating, while China—which was traditionally closed and reserved—seems to be embracing globalization, especially in its engagement on the African continent. Does the Western-led anti-immigration rhetoric in any way suggest that globalization is under threat? And should that in any way cause African countries to change their globalization strategies? Admittedly, the security and political challenges being experienced in the United States and Europe will invariably slow the wheels of globalization, but cannot bring it to a halt—the simple reason being that the world as a whole is better off globalized than not.
Even in regions like Africa, where globalization has essentially been seen as a “double-edged sword,” the benefits have been enormous compared to the ills. For example, remittances to Africa have been on the rise because of globalization. Africa’s trade, in terms of overall export and imports, has increased over the last two decades, albeit under unfair terms of trade. Existing evidence also suggests increased flow of FDIs into Africa, although the low absorptive capacity (bad infrastructure, weak institutions and financial markets, conflict-prone environments) of many African countries constrains the extent to which they benefit from the increased FDI flows. Notwithstanding the benefits of globalization, existing evidence seems to suggest that the economies of many African countries are not fully integrated into the global economy. This some have referred to as a blessing, given that it protects African economies from global economic shocks such as the 2007–08 financial crises. On the contrary, those who see this phenomenon as a challenge to Africa’s globalization argue that stronger economic integration will facilitate better access to global markets, technology and innovation, which are core inputs to Africa’s economic development.
The foregoing discussion strengthens the existing call for African countries to re-strategize and pursue policies that will help them benefit more from globalization than is currently the case. As part of this effort, there will be the need to strengthen institutions, develop stronger financial markets, promote tighter and smarter economic integration, and, most important, develop a core cadre of human capital with global perspectives. It is in the context of this discourse that UGBS has taken concrete steps to improve on its global engagements. In this direction, UGBS has (1) introduced courses and programs that address unanswered global business questions; (2) joined partnerships (the Global Network, AACSB, AABS etc.) that make it possible for the students, faculty, and staff of UGBS to interact and share ideas on teaching, learning, research, and innovation with their counterparts in other schools around the globe; and (3) introduced academic study tours that enable our students to take courses in schools abroad and also engage, learn and understand the culture of global corporations and their leaders. We believe that these efforts, together with ongoing internal quality improvements benchmarked to international standards, will prepare our students well enough to engage positively in a world that we believe is globalizing and will continue to do so in the future.
The authors are members of the Policy and Governance Research Group at the University of Ghana Business School.