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Glocalization: The New Form of the Colonialist Mindset or a Way Out?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Mehmet Yesilbas and A. Cimen
January 22, 2016

The 20th century was an era of intense change, leading to unprecedented shifts. The first half of the century witnessed two World Wars that produced dramatic devastation. Taking lessons from these wars, Western Europe formed the biggest economic and political alliance, the European Union (EU), and the Western world formed the biggest defense alliance, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The classical colonialism mindset, which ended after the Second World War, was further transformed during the Cold War. When that period ended with the 1989 demolition of the Berlin Wall, it sparked political transformations in the Eastern bloc, especially in the liberalization of totalitarian regimes, as political power eroded in pro-Soviet governments. As this column previously discussed, several movements and ideologies have emerged since that time. In this new era, countries have been categorized as developed/developing, capitalist/socialist or north/south. As policy and democracy suffer in developing countries, and current policy doctrines fail to provide reasonable solutions to contemporary issues, new strategies have been proposed.

This new process has reshaped and redesigned relationships among public institutions, private entities, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals. The benefits of innovative technology and democracy have overflowed across boundaries around the world, leading to improvements in social and economic fields. Advances in communication and transportation have enabled globalization, distances have been shortened and cultures have been brought into harmony with each other. The world is now a “globalized village.” It is safe to assume even Marshal McLuhan, the first communication theorist to use the term, could not have anticipated the speed at which globalization would take place.

hands-600497_640However, a new process that respects globalization as well as local virtues has emerged since the turn of the 21st century: glocalization. Research such as Pollifroni’s 2006 study, “Globalization and Glocalization: an Epistemological Analysis from Business Economics,” and Bragazzi’s study, “Glocalization: The New Established Trend after Globalization,” began to dub this new process as “the post-global era” or “glocal era” and further studied this concept.

It should be noted that glocalization was first mentioned in the 1980s by a Japanese economist in the Harvard Business Review and Robertson, in his 1995 study “Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity,” which emphasized the Japanese source (dochakuka). The word originally comes the principle that agriculture should be suitable to the local conditions. It also emphasizes the global Japanese business world view that is adapted to local conditions.

In his thesis, “From Globalization to Glocalization,” Li stated that glocalize and glocalization were common Japanese business terms during the 1980s. They imply the synchronization of local and global instruments and that industrial practices are global, even while accommodating themselves to local circumstances. For instance, goods and services are produced and delivered by considering the local conditions. Using McDonald’s as an example, in Li’s words, “In India people can get a Maharaja Mac; in Italy, a McItaly; in Morocco, a McArabia; in Japan, a Koroke.” But glocalization is not only about marketing; it has also been adapted to business, advertising, management and socio-cultural uses. Many companies have adapted a glocal strategy based on local discrepancies to increase worldwide performance. Glocalization has affected events and relationships worldwide and has led to the motto, “think global/globally-act local/locally.”

One of the most interesting initiatives in this area came from an NGO and was called the Glocal Forum, created in 2001. The forum focuses on empowering local communities by connecting them to each other and worldwide resources. The forum’s objective is to enable successful social development, democratic progress and achievement of a balance between global opportunities and local realities.

Some think glocalization may eliminate the downsides of globalization in terms of local disparities. Others believe glocalization is a new way out and soft cover of the globalization. One may suppose the new hybrid goes in globalization’s favor; after all, mixing yellow and blue gives us new hue of green. One can expect glocalization will find its own way.


Author:  Dr. M. Yesilbas, Ph.D., MPA, LL.B is the district governor at Turkish Ministry of Interior, Attorney at Law. Dr. Yesilbas can be reached at [email protected].  

Co-author: Dr. A. Cimen, Ph.D. is an associate professor of economy, deputy governor. Dr. Cimen can be reached at [email protected]

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