Archive for the 'Globalization' Category

Apr 29 2005

French To Google: “Puh!”

Reaffirming its heralded position as guardian of global culture (cheese, wine, literature, extended vacations, and things that smell), the French and other EU nations have mustered up enough dander to protect the world against latest “risk of crushing American domination…” Google.

Late last year, the sinister forces of Google reached an agreement with five major libraries to digitize 15 million books and make them accessible online.

Sacre Bleu!

You can see how this might be a problem.

In response, Jean-Noël Jeanneney, head of the French National Library, called on President Jacques Chirac to “make the collections of the great libraries in France and Europe more widely and more rapidly accessible on the Internet.”

The creation of a European search engine would defend French and other languages by being published in their original tongues.

This last point has puzzled some as Google is published in over a 100 languages.

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Apr 29 2005

Globalized World Spins Past Laws of Geometry

Is the world of the 21st century flat, as Thomas L. Friedman argues in his new book that identifies globalization as the most important trend of our times?

His analysis and the challenges it raises will kick off an expansive public radio project, Think Globally, with an event to be broadcast in Minnesota at 7 tonight from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. The event, which is sold out, is scheduled for rebroadcast next month (May 16-22) as National Public Radio concentrates on the meaning of globalization in our lives.

OK, so your instinct is to wiggle around in your chair and station-surf for sports because thinking globally is too big for your brain. Resist your instinct.

The global really is local. It’s about how you, your kids, your work, your education fit into the fast-spinning web of interconnections accelerated in the last few years by technology. Expect documentaries, commentary, listener-participation, cultural segments and investigative reports. For a preview of coming attractions and for Web-only material, check out the radio collaboration’s site at

What the public radio people have put together for tonight is a forum for us to consider how to meet the future quickly and smartly.

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Apr 26 2005

The Scoop on Sleep Presented in Survey

The United States is in the top 10 when it comes to getting little sleep, with 19 percent of the population logging 6 hours or less during the week. That’s among findings of a new study of sleep habits conducted by ACNielsen.

The study, which looked beyond the United States, found this country is a nation of night owls and early birds. More than a third of U.S. adults go to bed after midnight during the week, while nearly the same number are out of bed by 6 a.m.

“The Internet, laptop computers, PDAs, cell phones, and ever-rising expectations about what one can get done in a day have created a 24/7 global culture,” stated ACNielsen spokesman Tom Markert.

The research organization cited National Institutes of Health estimates that some 70 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep disorder. The survey was conducted over the Internet in 28 global markets and involved more than 14,000 adults.

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Feb 07 2005

Does Cultural Diversity Require Exceptions?

The idea of promoting cultural diversity around the world sounds reasonable enough. It recognizes that everyone profits from the free flow of ideas, words and images. It encourages preservation of, say, indigenous traditions and minority languages. It treats the cultures of rich and poor countries as equals. And, most topically, it offers a healthy antidote to cultural homogeneity.

Try turning this seemingly straightforward idea into an international treaty, however, and things soon become complicated. Since October 2003, the 190 members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization have been working on what is provisionally called the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expression. It is meant to be approved by consensus this fall, but don’t count on it. There is still no agreement on the convention’s final name.

That, though, is a minor issue compared with more fundamental differences. Led by France and Canada, a majority of countries are asserting the right of governments to safeguard, promote and even protect their cultures from outside competition. Opposing them, a smaller group led by the United States argues that cultural diversity would best flourish in the freedom of the globalized economy.

A fresh bid to break the deadlock is under way at the headquarters of Unesco in Paris, where delegates and experts are wrestling with hundreds of proposed amendments to the convention’s first draft. Yet the more they advance toward concrete definitions, some delegates believe, the less likely they are to reach consensus.

The reason is simple: Behind the idealistic screen of cultural diversity, weighty economic and political issues are at stake.

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Feb 03 2005

Globalization Should Be a Two-Way Street

This past weekend’s Iraqi election — held in Nashville as well as Baghdad — was an inspirational reminder of our city’s growing diversity and role in the wider world. Nashville was one of only five U.S. cities hosting the overseas voting for Iraq’s first free election in 50 years, chosen due to its Kurdish population — which at an estimated 8,000 is the largest in the country.

The Athens of the South is also home to large groups of Mexicans, Vietnamese and Somalis, among others. In fact, from 1990 to 2000, Nashville’s foreign-born population more than tripled from 12,662 to 39,596. In the five years since the last U.S. Census, it’s safe to say that it has continued to grow at a good clip — witness our ever-expanding dining choices on Nolensville Road.

About this time last year, Metro completed a yearlong study “looking at how immigrants are adjusting and contributing to life in Nashville and Davidson County,” and recommending ways to help them adapt to the local culture and economy.

It’s a commendable start, but only half of our responsibility. Globalization is a two-way street; as we welcome immigrants and their contributions to our city, we should also share our experience and expertise with the world.

Tennessee State University is one institution that’s made global exchange a priority by partnering over the past few years with universities in Malawi, Thailand, Ukraine, and now Tunisia. In September, the school’s Office of International Business Programs received a $194,000 grant from the State Department to share faculty, students and expertise with the University of Tunis el Manar — with the overarching goal of increasing U.S. understanding of Islamic societies.

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Jan 31 2005

U.S. Exposure to Foreign Literature Promotes Tolerance in Multicultural World

It seems every aspect of American life is undergoing a “Globalization” except one — our literary culture. Explanations for this phenomenon vary, from lack of interest to lack of availability, but one thing is certain: A majority of Americans have a profound disinterest in the literary and cultural works of other countries.

Just think about it — aside from African-American and Anglo-Saxon literature, how many translated foreign works did you read throughout your education? According to Wayne State University literature experts, the chances that you’ve read any are pretty slim.

Robert Elsie, a German anthropologist, came to Wayne State Thursday as part of The Humanities Center’s Brown Bag Lecture Series. Elsie, a specialist in Albanian culture, has translated over 35 Albanian books into English.

According to Elsie, foreign language works comprise only 2-3 percent of the American literature market.

Walter Edwards, an English Department linguistics professor, suggests “the principal reason for the lack of interest in foreign literatures is the economic, political and cultural dominance of the United States … There are exceptions, of course, but typically the dominant culture is often ethnocentric.”

Anca Vlasopolos, an English professor and director of the Comparative Literature Program at WSU, suggests that the problem lies more in the fact that “literary translation is a thankless, ill-paid endeavor, often entailing difficulties of obtaining permission, etc., so few people who are not masochistic engage in it.”

A third factor, according to Russian professor Ken Bronstrom, “is the gradual movement toward visual media as the preferred forms among Americans, especially film and television.”

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Jan 28 2005

Local Is Lekker, But So Is Global

Companies that monitor and respond to the growing internationalisation of business cope better with the new challenges of international competition and outperform those [that] do not respond adequately to change. In the manufacturing and services sectors, for example, companies in China and India are recognising the opportunities in the global marketplace and capitalising on them. Both countries are becoming global hubs in these sectors.

What is required is the ability to make intelligent choices on when to think globally and when to think locally and how to develop integrated strategies that market brands in the best way in both environments.

But what means are available to aid South African companies in making the right choices?

New research shows that South African companies can be more competitive by improving in one key area: market orientation. Being oriented to the market is about more than just customer orientation. It is an organisational culture and set of behaviours that help the company develop insight about international markets, craft strategic intent and manage effective interaction strategies.

Whatever business leaders decide is the best route for their brands, both venturing abroad and staying at home have winning strategies in the global marketplace.

Companies operating beyond SA’s borders may already have a unique advantage. Given that a dominant feature of the international marketplace is cultural diversity, South African companies have an advantage in their experience of doing business in a diverse society.

For locally bound companies, despite the rise of global culture, local culture remains a central influence on consumer behaviour and individual identity the “local is lekker” adage is a powerful purchasing factor for many South Africans.

Research shows local companies that firmly position and communicate their brands as icons of the local culture can generate higher brand value. This is a counterstrategy that remains underused.

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Jan 28 2005

Is Korea a Forward Base for the Globalization of Chinese?

China is sending some 600 Chinese language teachers to Korean elementary and middle schools.

Zhejiang Online News reported Friday that 600 graduates from a teachers college in Zhejiang province would be sent to Korean schools after Hangzhou Normal University signed a deal with 16 school principals during their recent visit to China. The heads were tasked with negotiating the agreement on behalf of the roughly 2,000 Korean schools that teach Chinese.

Beijing’s dispatch of the teachers is part of an ambitious strategy to make Chinese a global language. Late last year it established the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. Attached to the State Council, the body has set itself the target of increasing the number of foreigners learning Chinese to 100 million within five years. Currently, there are an estimated 30 million foreigners studying the language at 2,300 universities in 100 countries.

Beijing is setting up forward bases for the task around the world. Similar to Germany’s Goethe Institut or the U.K.’s British Council, Confucius Institutes teach Chinese language and promote Chinese culture, with the first one opened in Seoul’s Yeoksam-dong last year. China’s quasi-state run news agency China News reported Thursday that Beijing also plans to open up several Confucius Institutes in the U.S. by next year. One Western diplomat in China said Beijing aimed to promote Chinese as an international language able to hold its own against English.

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Jan 27 2005

Brazil Newspaper Slams NY Times Over Obesity Story

A Brazilian newspaper on Thursday accused the New York Times of illustrating a story on obesity in Brazil with a picture of three flabby-looking Czech women on a beach famed for its shapely local beauties.

The Times story went to the heart of Brazil’s self-image as a place of sunny sexiness and was the second in less than a year to provoke strong criticism in Brazil, where the globally influential newspaper’s coverage has faced heavy scrutiny by local media.

The Jan. 13 story by correspondent Larry Rohter was based on a government study that said more than 40 per cent of Brazilians are overweight.

It noted that Brazil’s “gifts to global culture” included the Girl from Ipanema and the thong, or “tanga,” bikini.

The photograph, by John Maier, showed three overweight women in bikinis on Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema Beach.

However, according to Globo newspaper, the women were not Brazilians but Czech tourists. “Certainly I am not a girl from Ipanema. I am a woman of a certain age,” 59-year-old Milena Suchoparkova told Globo in an interview.

“I think I’m overweight but I never was skinny. I was always robust but I wouldn’t say I was obese,” said Suchoparkova, Czech-born but a naturalized Italian.

Globo, one of Brazil’s biggest dailies, ran its story under the headline “New York Times Screw-up.” It ran a separate article on Rohter and questioned the Times’ ethics and credibility.

Suchoparkova and her friends were upset because, they told Globo, the photographer had not asked their permission before taking the shot. They were not mentioned in the story itself.

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Jan 13 2005

Fat Brazilians?

Fat Brazilians? In a body-conscious society whose gifts to global culture include the girl from Ipanema, the tanga bikini and Gisele Bündchen and other supermodels, the idea seems heretical. Yet a controversial government study released late last month confirms it: Brazil is experiencing an epidemic of obesity.

According to the report, conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics and issued right as summer arrived and people began flocking to the beaches in skimpy clothing, just over 40 percent of Brazil’s adult population is overweight. Overall, 1 adult in 10, or more than 10 million people, are obese, by international standards, compared with fewer than four million who were deemed to be undernourished.

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Jan 12 2005

All Things Asian Are Becoming Us

Rudyard Kipling’s famous line “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet” no longer applies. Today, East and West are commingled, and in this country, the East is on the rise.

Take movies. American audiences are growing more familiar with movies from China, Japan and South Korea. Quentin Tarantino is planning a kung fu movie entirely in Mandarin, and Zhang Yimou’s stylized martial arts films like “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers” are popular across the country. Hollywood is remaking Japanese blockbusters like “The Ring” and “Shall We Dance?”

What many Asian Americans once considered proprietary culture — kung fu, acupuncture, ginseng, incense, Confucian dramas, beef noodle soup and so on — has spilled irrevocably into the mainstream.

Three decades ago, who would have thought that sushi would become an indelible part of American cuisine? Or that Vietnamese fish sauce would be found on Aisle 3 of Safeway? Or that acupuncture would be accepted by some HMOs? That feng shui would become a household word? Or that Asian writers, especially Indian, would play a large and important role in the pantheon of American letters?

American pundits tend to look at the world through a very old prism — they associate globalization as synonymous with Americanization: i.e., how the United States influences the world. What many tend to overlook, in the age of porous borders, is how much the world has changed the United States.

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Jan 11 2005

Comparing Food Favourites Around the Wide World

There’s a difference between the pre-packaged Shanghai stir-fry vegetables in my refrigerator and a McDonald’s restaurant in Brazil.

On a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last year, I visited Rocinha favela, one of the largest hillside shantytowns in the world. As I walked into the hillside community, surrounded by street children digging through garbage for their next meal, I noticed a McDonald’s restaurant on the corner.

The golden arches stood out amid the noticeable poverty of the community.

When I asked a resident about the presence of McDonalds, he replied that the favela residents pleaded for a McDonald’s restaurant because it made them feel connected to the rest of the city of Rio de Janeiro, and by extension, to the global community.

The golden arches symbolize inclusiveness in commercial society. Attached to the brand McDonald’s is a particular idea of modernity and development. Rocinha favela residents desired to participate in a global culture that eats McDonald’s hamburgers.

Suddenly, the difference between the pre-packaged Shanghai stir-fry vegetables in my refrigerator and the McDonald’s restaurant in Brazil is obvious.

When I take my Shanghai Stir-Fry vegetables out of the microwave and savour the exotic flavouring, I do not feel a part of Shanghai culture. By contrast, a McDonald’s hamburger carries a symbolic value to a low-income Brazilian. The hamburger symbolizes inclusiveness to a global consumer culture that can afford to purchase a hamburger.

The food we eat not only contains nutrients and minerals to keep our bodies healthy but also contains a psychological element, reflected in how we perceive our economic status in the world.

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I spent the first eight years of my life in the United States, where I was born. The next eight years were spent in Venezuela, my father’s native country. While living in Venezuela, I witnessed the arrival of Burger King. The Venezuelan fast food chain Tropi Burger or any of the local Cuban hamburger joints served better tasting burgers than Burger King’s, which tasted like they had been shipped down from the United States frozen (presumably because they had). But there was something special about eating at Burger King. It was American. Same goes for chocolate. I grew up on some of the best milk chocolate in the world in cacao-producing Venezuela. Nowadays, Venezuelans are eating American chocolate and the founder of Tropi Burger brought T.G.I. Friday’s and Benihana to Venezuela. Why? Because they’re American.

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Jan 03 2005

Three Basic Steps to Globalize Your Web Site for International Visitors

Marketing Sherpa interviews John Yunker:

We asked Yunker for three basic steps you can take to begin globalizing your site this year.

-> Step #1. Start small

A. List your strategic markets for next five years

Once you have a basic list, register domain names in those countries so you don’t lose out on them, even if you don’t plan to use them immediately.

B. Pick a single country to begin

Get your feet wet by branching out into one additional market so you can fully understand the details of globalization before launching a full effort.

C. Be prepared to support your new local site

“The minute you do launch a local Web site, you will be expected to support it, so you’ll need some people who have language skills that can support questions that come in via email or by phone,” says Yunker.

Customers understand that you may not offer the same services that you offer in your local market, but you have to manage their expectations, he says. If you can’t offer phone support in the local language, make that clear, and offer alternatives.

D. Research the culture

Okay, this should be obvious, but don’t forget to be sensitive to local culture

E. English language or not?

Many companies make the mistake of thinking the whole world (or all business executives) speaks English, but in truth it depends on your market segment.

-> Step #2. Keep your site’s bandwidth low

Be aware of the bandwidth requirements of the countries to which you’re reaching out. Limit graphics and avoid animation. This means little or no Flash or rich media.

-> Step #3. Rethink your “global gateway” start page

Note: The sweet spot for your global gateway icon is in the upper right-hand corner of each page a new visitor might enter your site on.

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Hat tip: Going Global

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Jan 03 2005

Chinese Buyer of PC Unit Is Moving to I.B.M.’s Hometown

These days, every employee here gets a birthday gift, something a multinational company might be expected to do in this age of feel-good corporate management.

The problem is that people in China do not traditionally celebrate birthdays.

But that is changing. And so is Lenovo. It is trying to become a global company with its purchase of I.B.M’s personal computer business for $1.75 billion, and handing out birthday cakes is just part of the process of evolving into a multinational corporation.

To further globalize the company, however, Lenovo will do something even bolder: it will move its headquarters to Armonk, N.Y., where I.B.M. is based, and essentially hand over management of what will become the world’s third-largest computer maker, after Dell and Hewlett-Packard, to a group of senior I.B.M. executives.

American multinational companies outsource manufacturing to China. Why can’t a Chinese company outsource management to the United States?

Preparations are already under way in Beijing. For the last few months, all vice presidents have been required to study English for at least one hour a day. The chairman says he has read books about Bill Gates and Andrew Grove. And the chief executive of Lenovo has agreed to give up day-to-day management of the company to assume the role of chairman.

Lenovo’s challenge will be to meld radically different corporate cultures.

“Neither culture should be the de facto culture,” said Martin Gilliland, an analyst at Gartner Research. “They have to start a new one. Can they develop a new Lenovo business culture? That’s one of the keys to success.”

And the new language for the company is English, company officials say.

Lenovo officials say they are studying American business history, and the chief executive lists The Harvard Business Review as part of his regular reading.

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Hat tip: Going Global

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Dec 22 2004

Pivotal Year in Film? TV and Globalization Tighten Grip on Film

It’s hard to tell now, but in the future, 2004 could be seen as one of the pivotal years in the history of Japanese cinema. This is not necessarily because of the quality of films released–and there were a number of great films–but because of hints of fundamental shifts in the industry and its relation to the global marketplace.

It is significant that the most successful film with Japanese actors in the domestic market this year was not even a Japanese-made film, but The Last Samurai. That was only one of a number of foreign-made films–most released in 2003 in the United States–that underlined the strong interest that exists in Japanese pop culture on a global scale

Heterogeneity and cultural border crossings can be a good thing, especially for a Japan that was long an exclusionary nation, but this trend is not exactly new. Independent filmmakers have been deconstructing the myth of Japanese homogeneity for over a decade…

What is different about the current internationalization is not just the watering down, the turning of cultural difference into commodities to consume, but–and this is probably the origin of those side effects–the fact it’s now taking place in the major studios. What these global institutional moves threaten to do is further distance the majors from the minors and further undermine an already unfairly hampered independent industry through the force of big capital, especially in television.

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