I. The definition of globalization
II. The history of globalization
    A. The beginning of globalization
    B. Increasing of globalization
III. The principal driver of globalization
IV. Proponents and opponents of globalization

Globalization refers to the increasing unification of the world's economic order through reduction of such barriers to international trade as tariffs, export fees, and import quotas. The goal is to increase material wealth, goods, and services through an international division of labor by efficiencies catalyzed by international relations, specialization and competition. It describes the process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through communication, transportation, and trade. The term is most closely associated with the term economic globalization: the integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, the spread of technology, and military presence.[1] However, globalization is usually recognized as being driven by a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural, political, and biological factors.[2] The term can also refer to the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or popular culture through acculturation. An aspect of the world which has gone through the process can be said to be globalized. Against this view, an alternative approach stresses how globalization has actually decreased inter-cultural contacts while increasing the possibility of international and intra-national conflict.[3]


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "globalization" was first employed in a publication entitled Towards New Education in 1930, to denote a holistic view of human experience in education.[4] An early description of globalization was penned by the founder of the Bible Student movement Charles Taze Russell who coined the term 'corporate giants' in 1897,[5] although it was not until the 1960s that the term began to be widely used by economists and other social scientists. The term has since then achieved widespread use in the mainstream press by the later half of the 1980s. Since its inception, the concept of globalization has inspired numerous competing definitions and interpretations, with antecedents dating back to the great movements of trade and empire across Asia and the Indian Ocean from the 15th century onwards.[6]

The United Nations ESCWA says globalization "is a widely-used term that can be defined in a number of different ways. When used in an economic context, it refers to the reduction and removal of barriers between national borders in order to facilitate the flow of goods, capital, services and labour... although considerable barriers remain to the flow of labor... Globalization is not a new phenomenon. It began towards the end of the nineteenth century, but it slowed down during the period from the start of the First World War until the third quarter of the twentieth century. This slowdown can be attributed to the inward-looking policies pursued by a number of countries in order to protect their respective industries... however, the pace of globalization picked up rapidly during the fourth quarter of the twentieth century..."[7]

HSBC, one of the world's largest banks, operates across the globe.[8][9] Shown here is the HSBC Global Technology Centre in Pune, India which develops software for the entire HSBC group.[10]

Tom G. Palmer of the Cato Institute defines globalization as "the diminution or elimination of state-enforced restrictions on exchanges across borders and the increasingly integrated and complex global system of production and exchange that has emerged as a result."[11]

Thomas L. Friedman has examined the impact of the "flattening" of the world, and argues that globalized trade, outsourcing, supply-chaining, and political forces have changed the world permanently, for both better and worse. He also argues that the pace of globalization is quickening and will continue to have a growing impact on business organization and practice.[12]

Finally, Takis Fotopoulos argues that globalization is the result of systemic trends manifesting the market economy's grow-or-die dynamic, following the rapid expansion of transnational corporations. Because these trends have not been offset effectively by counter-tendencies that could have emanated from trade-union action and other forms of political activity, the outcome has been globalization. This is a multi-faceted and irreversible phenomenon within the system of the market economy and it is expressed as: economic globalization, namely, the opening and deregulation of commodity, capital and labour markets which led to the present form of neoliberal globalization; political globalization, i.e., the emergence of a transnational elite and the phasing out of the all-powerful nation-state of the statist period; cultural globalization, i.e., the worldwide homogenization of culture; ideological globalization; technological globalization; social globalization.[13]


Extent of the Silk Road and Spice trade routes blocked by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 spurring exploration

The historical origins of globalization are the subject of on-going debate. Though several scholars situate the origins of globalization in the modern era, others regard it as a phenomenon with a long history.[14]

Perhaps the most extreme proponent of a deep historical origin for globalization was Andre Gunder Frank, an economist associated with dependency theory. Frank argued that a form of globalization has been in existence since the rise of trade links between Sumer and the Indus Valley Civilization in the third millennium B.C.[15] Critics of this idea contend that it rests upon an over-broad definition of globalization.

An early form of globalized economics and culture, known as archaic globalization, existed during the Hellenistic Age, when commercialized urban centers were focused around the axis of Greek culture over a wide range that stretched from India to Spain, with such cities as Alexandria, Athens, and Antioch at its center. Others have perceived an early form of globalization in the trade links between the Roman Empire, the Parthian Empire, and the Han Dynasty. The increasing articulation of commercial links between these powers inspired the development of the Silk Road, which started in western China, reached the boundaries of the Parthian empire, and continued onwards towards Rome.[16] With 300 Greek ships a year sailing between the Greco-Roman world and India, the annual trade may have reached 300,000 tons.[17]

The Islamic Golden Age was also an important early stage of globalization, when Jewish and Muslim traders and explorers established a sustained economy across the Old World resulting in a globalization of crops, trade, knowledge and technology. Globally significant crops such as sugar and cotton became widely cultivated across the Muslim world in this period, while the necessity of learning Arabic and completing the Hajj created a cosmopolitan culture.[18]

Native New World crops exchanged globally: Maize, Tomato, Potato, Vanilla, Rubber, Cacao, Tobacco

The advent of the Mongol Empire, though destabilizing to the commercial centers of the Middle East and China, greatly facilitated travel along the Silk Road. The Pax Mongolica of the thirteenth century had several other notable globalizing effects. It witnessed the creation of the first international postal service, as well as the rapid transmission of epidemic diseases such as bubonic plague across the newly unified regions of Central Asia.[19] These pre-modern phases of global or hemispheric exchange are sometimes known as archaic globalization. Up to the sixteenth century, however, even the largest systems of international exchange were limited to the Old World.

The next phase, known as proto-globalization, was characterized by the rise of maritime European empires, in the 16th and 17th centuries, first the Portuguese and Spanish Empires, and later the Dutch and British Empires. In the 17th century, globalization became also a private business phenomenon when chartered companies like British East India Company (founded in 1600), often described as the first multinational corporation, as well as the Dutch East India Company (founded in 1602) were established.

The Age of Discovery brought a broad change in globalization, being the first period in which Eurasia and Africa engaged in substantial cultural, material and biologic exchange with the New World.[20] It began in the late 15th century, when the two Kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula – Portugal and Castile – sent the first exploratory voyages[21] around the Horn of Africa and to the Americas, "discovered" in 1492 by Christopher Columbus. Global integration continued with the European colonization of the Americas initiating the Columbian Exchange,[22] the enormous widespread exchange of plants, animals, foods, human populations (including slaves), communicable diseases, and culture between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. New crops that had come from the Americas via the European seafarers in the 16th century significantly contributed to the world's population growth.[23]

19th century Great Britain become the first global economic superpower, because of superior manufacturing technology and improved global communications such as steamships and railroads.

The 19th century witnessed the advent of globalization approaching its modern form. Industrialization allowed cheap production of household items using economies of scale,[citation needed] while rapid population growth created sustained demand for commodities. Globalization in this period was decisively shaped by nineteenth-century imperialism. After the First and Second Opium Wars and the completion of British conquest of India, vast populations of these regions became ready consumers of European exports. It was in this period that areas of sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific islands were incorporated into the world system. Meanwhile, the conquest of new parts of the globe, notably sub-Saharan Africa, by Europeans yielded valuable natural resources such as rubber, diamonds and coal and helped fuel trade and investment between the European imperial powers, their colonies, and the United States.[24]

The first phase of "modern globalization" began to break down at the beginning of the 20th century, with World War I, but resurfaced after World War II. This resurgence was partly the result of planning by politicians to break down borders hampering trade. Their work led to the Bretton Woods conference, an agreement by the world's leading politicians to lay down the framework for international commerce and finance, and the founding of several international institutions intended to oversee the processes of globalization. Globalization was also driven by the global expansion of multinational corporations based in the United States and Europe, and worldwide exchange of new developments in science, technology and products, with most significant inventions of this time having their origins in the Western world according to Encyclopedia Britannica.[25] Worldwide export of western culture went through the new mass media: film, radio and television and recorded music. Development and growth of international transport and telecommunication played a decisive role in modern globalization.

These institutions include the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank), and the International Monetary Fund. Globalization has been facilitated by advances in technology which have reduced the costs of trade, and trade negotiation rounds, originally under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which led to a series of agreements to remove restrictions on free trade. Since World War II, barriers to international trade have been considerably lowered through international agreements — GATT and its successor, the World Trade Organization (WTO). World exports rose from 8.5% in 1970, to 16.2% of total gross world product in 2001.[26]

In the 1990s, the growth of low cost communication networks allowed work done using a computer to be moved to low wage locations for many job types. This included accounting, software development, and engineering design. In late 2000s, much of the industrialized world entered into a deep recession.[27] Some analysts say the world is going through a period of deglobalization after years of increasing economic integration.[28][29] China has recently[when?] become the world's largest exporter surpassing Germany.[30]