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Globalisation – a Moral Outcry?

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There have been many definitions and classifications of the term ‘Globalisation’ conceived and hypothesised, over the last half a decade in particular. Some of these classifications can be viewed as to being biased in favour of globalisation and vice versa. But one that can act as a concise, yet unbiased characterisation was conceived by Dibb et al. in 2006 which states that Globalisation is “The development of marketing strategies that treat the entire world, or its major regions, as a single entity.” (Dibb et al. 2006, p. 147) Globalisation revolves around creating marketing strategies while viewing the world’s consumers and business as one market that share needs, wants and buying behaviour. There are many reason for the emergence of globalisation, but some of the main and most prominent drivers are: •Advances in Technology

•Removal of Political Barriers
•Removal of Economic Barriers
•Free Movement of Capital

As stated before, different authors have taken different stances on Globalisation and there are definitely conflicting theories and conclusions on whether it is something that is going to benefit not just the world, but its individual regions equally or not. One man who sees globalisation, and also the man who actually coined the term ‘Globalisation’ is Theodore Levitt who described it as being when “Corporations geared to this new reality benefit from enormous economies of scale in production, distribution, marketing and management. By translating these benefits into reduced world prices, they can decimate competitors that still live in the disabling grip of old assumptions about how the world works.” (Levitt, 1983) This is clearly focusing on the positives and benefits of globalisation, but there are many others with opposing views. One who does have an opposing view is Zygmunt Bauman. In his 2001 article, ‘AntiGlobos – The Ethical Challenge of Globalization’ he argues that Globalisation is having an ethical effect on the world, and not in a good way. He states that Globalisation means that “we are all dependent on each other….Whatever happens in one place may have global consequences.” (Bauman, 2001) Bauman goes on to metaphorically describe the world’s markets being caught in a “web of mutual dependency.”

He is using this as an example of how we are caught within globalisation and there is nothing we can do the change this fact. He feels that fact that the world is embracing globalisation, we are losing our feeling of “’metaphysical guilt’ (the guilt we feel when a human is being harmed, even if the harm was in no way connected to our action.)” (Bauman, 2001) and that this is harming people, even though we may have no idea it is happening. He feels that globalisation is causing long lasting harm to the global economy, and people are failing to realise it and that this is ultimately creating issues with morality and ethics and that they are going not unnoticed, but undealt with. Ukpere and Slabbert agree with Bauman on this stance, and in their 2009 journal, they focused and expanded on specific areas that it is effecting. One of the areas that they found a correlation regarding globalisation is Unemployment. They have shown that big companies are moving business to foreign countries, sometimes whole departments or even branches in order to “to take advantage of favourable business climates and government concessions, namely cheap labour, lax environmental laws and tax holidays.” (Ukpere & Slabbert, 2009)

They are stating that because of the fact that they can save money abroad, employees in their native countries are losing jobs because of this. In essence, globalisation is not creating jobs, it is only moving them in order for rich companies to become richer. With jobs being moved abroad, more and more people are having to look for new, and probably, lesser paid jobs. Continuing from the idea of the ‘rich becoming richer’, Inequality was also found to be a detriment of globalisation. There is an ever widening gap forming between the world’s rich and the world’s poor, and while this can affect developed nations as “Globalisation has reduced the bargaining power of unskilled workers and pushed up inequality in many western countries” (Seager, 2007) it can severely affect developing nations. “half of the global population – roughly 3 billion people live in abject poverty; nearly half of these – 1.2 billion in 2000 – live in utter destitution, on less than $1 a day, in danger of death by starvation or related diseases.” (Lloyd, 2001)

With globalisation affecting all corners of the world and not just the poorer areas, it is leading to more and more people struggling to get by, or ultimately even worse connotations. This moves on to the last major point that was discussed in Ukpere and Slabbert’s paper, which is poverty. Due to the previously discussed exportation of jobs and the proceeding lack of jobs in developed countries, poverty has risen in many areas all around the world, whether they be in developed or undeveloped nations. It is also affected by the uneven distribution of wealth around the world. “The incidence of poverty has increased in the past few years not because the world, as a whole, is getting poorer, but because the benefits of growth have been unevenly spread.” (UNRISD, 2000) These are just some of the more evident moral problems that globalisation is causing in the world. While ultimately agreeing with Bauman, Ukpere and Slabbert have expanded further on the specifics and particular areas that it is affecting, rather than just stating that globalisation is affecting the economy as a whole. There is evidence of that it having a domino effect, i.e. one problem can cause or aid to another problem. Big companies are only now caring about profits and returns, rather than what they are doing in order to obtain them.

They may not be ignoring issues such as the environment, i.e. recycling or pollution in order to stave off bad press, but with the exportation of jobs to foreign countries, it is arguable that they are ignoring other moral issues, which is what seems to be the overall biggest problem with globalisation. There is definitely change in today’s world of business, and Globalisation seems certainly seems to be at the epicentre of these changes. The idea of a ‘global consumer’ is very much at the forefront of many businesses plans. Rather than marketing to a single or small (on a scale of the entire world) demographic, many advertising strategies are now focused on creating and marketing products or services that are fitting to a much, much larger population. For example, McDonalds’ are almost exactly the same wherever in the world you will go (with the exception of certain places such as India where they do not eat beef). The same advertisements, the same products, the same service. Although, this at times could be considered risky as there is a chance that if the proper research and procedures aren’t taken, the advertisements etc. could be considered offensive or wrong in certain cultures.

This is just one company that have adopted this policy, but there are many others. This was described by Bauman as ‘the second secession which ultimately means that marketing has escaped the single household, and breached into the ‘world market’. Marketers can now afford to market to everyone, rather than just a certain demographic. “Mass marketing, on an international level, displaces strategies that revolve around national, regional, and cultural differences.” (Asgary & Walle, 2002) This, of course can be viewed as a possible benefit of globalisation, albeit only a benefit for the companies selling the product’s marketing strategy. But, as with most things, there is the argument that it is beneficial for all. One of the most evident benefits of globalisation is that of free trade. This is a way for businesses and even consumers to buy and sell products between different countries, effectively demolishing any barriers that may have existed before. This does not only widen the market for both business and consumer, but it generally lowers costs, whether it be of production, or just buying the product outright.

Another way in which globalisation can be beneficial is that is has showed that it can attract foreign investment, which is a two way street. Not only can it attract foreign investment to western businesses, private capital going in the other direction to perhaps less developed countries can prove to be very rewarding. “Higher foreign investment in these (less developed) countries helps them break the vicious circle of poverty without adding to their foreign debt” (Worldbank.org, 2004) So, through foreign investment, not only do the companies in these countries have a better chance of growth, the countries themselves have a better chance of getting into a better state of affairs. These are just some of the main benefits of globalisation, but again, there are many others such as Free Movement of Labour. Although this was earlier argued to be a drawback to globalisation regarding outsourcing etc., it can again work in the other direction. For example, in recent years “the UK needed to recruit nurses from the Far East to fill shortages.” (Economicshelp.org, 2009) This not only helped the UK fill a need, but also provided opportunities for nurses in perhaps less developed countries to have a better standard of living by becoming employed in the UK. Other possible benefits include Increased Economies of Scale and Greater Competition in world markets. Although there are obvious benefits to globalisation, the benefits discussed, as with most things, do have another side to the story. While free trade can be seen as a good thing, it isn’t always the case.

Despite movements such as the Fairtrade movement, which is aimed to make sure farmers etc. in poorer countries receive a fair payment for their services and products, there are still many companies and businesses taking advantage of said people. The allure of buying products at extremely cheap prices and selling them on for a tidy profit can completely set aside morale dilemma. For instance, Primark, a high street retailer with over 170 stores in three different countries use child labour and pay them as little as 60p per day. Primark of course blamed the suppliers of this, rather than themselves, but they still continue to buy from similar suppliers at very, very low prices and have always claimed that “it is possible to sell T-shirts for as little as £2 without compromising its ethics.” (MailOnline, 2008)

This is aid to poverty being a detrimental factor in many third world countries and is definitely an example of how globalisation is causing not just moral issues, but also economic ones. As for foreign invest, although it was toted to help developing countries, as stated before, when it is going in the other direction, this is one of the major reasons jobs in western countries are being outsourced to foreign countries. If foreign businesses are investing in western companies, there is a very real chance that they will put their knowledge and knowhow of their own countries/markets and suggest, or even enforce outsourcing in order to cut costs and maximise profits. Essentially, “multinational companies impedes the growth of new jobs in the economy…” (Jackson, 2012)

Due to there being very negative implications to even the up side of globalisations and from the aforementioned detrimental connotations, it can be strongly argued that Bauman is in fact correct in saying that globalisation is causing a moral outcry on a global scale, but there does not appear to be any chance of this changing. The magnetisms of greater profits, lower costs and larger markets seem to be far too appealing for companies and countries partaking in the globalisation movement to change their ways. It would appear that hardly anyone or anything is safe from globalisation. Many jobs in western countries are no longer safe and people with jobs in lesser developed or third world countries. Poverty is continuing in third world countries, and it is even growing in western countries. The rich get richer, while the poor are appearing to get poorer. “Globalization is an uneven and unequal process.” (Robins, 2000 p. 198, cited in Parsons and Maclaran, p. 205) and it appears we are all far too emerged in its ways to change our ways now.


Dibb et al., 2006. Marketing Concepts and Strategies. 5th Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Lloyd, J. 2001. The Protest Ethic. London: Demos
Parsons, E. and Maclaran, P. 2009. Contemporary Issues in Marketing and Consumer Behaviour. 1st Edition. Oxford: Elsevier Asgary, N. & Walle, A. H., 2002. The Cultural impact of globalisation: economic activity and social change, Vol. 9 (3), pp. 58-75 Baumann, Z. et al., 2008. AntiGlobos. New Perpective Quarterly, Vol. 18 (4), pp. 4-9 Ukpere, W. I. & Slabbert, A. D., 2009. A relationship between current globalisation, unemployment, inequality and poverty. International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 36 (1), pp. 37-46 UNRISD (2000), Visible Hands: Taking Responsibility for Social Development, UNRISD, Geneva. Economics Help (2009) Costs and Benefits of Globalisation [online] Available from the World Wide Web: http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/81/trade/costs-and-benefits-of-globalisation/ [accessed 22nd October, 2012] Mail Online (2008) Exposed: Primark’s fashion sweatshops that pay children just 60p a day [online] Available from the World Wide Web: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1028449/Exposed-Primarks-sweatshops-pay-children-just-60p-day.html [accessed 23rd October, 2012] The Guardian Online (2007) Gap between rich and poor widens [online] Available from the World Wide Web: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/jun/20/globalisation.ukeconomy [accessed 20th October, 2012] World Bank (2004) Globalization: Foreign Investment and Foreign Aid [online] Available from the World Wide Web: http://www.worldbank.org/depweb/english/beyond/beyondco/beg_13.pdf [accessed 20th October, 2012]

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