Globalization and Capitalism

Globalization and Capitalism

by Christine Schantz, Derek Kan, Shreyas

New York Times recently won four Pulitzer prizes and one of the articles was about modern globalization practices of some of the best enterprises respected not just in America but the world over like Apple [1] and Walmart. The fact that this seemingly worrying trend is being observed in places like Apple, which just a few decades ago proudly boasted of being built and developed indigenously in America, brings to light some of the key factors of a globalized workplace and knowledge workers.

There is an overwhelming trend among most of the successful enterprises to move the supply chain abroad (Mirchandani, p.204). The general feeling is that this may be influenced by the need for cutting costs in the increasingly competitive market. On the contrary, according to the NYT article, the executives claim that this is not at all about jobs. According to an executive, “the speed and flexibility is breathtaking”. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight. A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

Beyond the supply chain and the flexibility of factories abroad, to accommodate the needs of transnational technology firms, education and standards of living are cited as being a secondary reason for why manufacturing in the US is languishing. Executives claim that the US does not have a population of workers with education they are looking for to fill positions as Engineers in their factories. The desired educational qualification for such a position is something between a high school diploma and bachelors degree in engineering but nothing more.

In comparison, China has the an engineering workforce that can be found and deployed with a very short period of time. In one instance Apple required approximately 8,700 industrial engineers and filled those positions within 15 days in the Chinese labor market. It was approximated that the same task would take up to 9 months in the US. Another large factor is the availability of workers and agreements of work practices. Beyond finding the labor force the question arises about how many US engineers would agree to move to on-site dormitories and to be on-call 24 hours in the day? In China this is commonplace.

Some people argue that earlier entrepreneurs and capitalists put the needs of the country also into account within their business decisions like setting up plants. But the executives counter this with the fact that moving such jobs outside is what helps them pay for innovation and not moving offshore would affect in losing much more jobs in the long run.

But maybe this above trend is only localized to the manufacturing industry. To examine in another light we also looked at the gaming industry and the transnational cultural issues embedded within them. [2]

South Korean game industry is expanding rapidly, however Yonhap News Agency claims that it will take a while before the games are ready to go overseas. Gordon Brown, who works for Korea’s largest localization company, Latis Global Communications, states this as an issue of localization. According to Sun this is a common issue in cross-cultural design and the term localization addresses the process of modifying and customizing products for different markets (Sun, 2012, p. 317). In this case, the article addresses how gaming cultures and icons differs from countries. First, Brown addresses storyboarding and language structure as the biggest issue of localization. Korean does not always include number or gender, and subjects are often dropped from sentences, complicating translation. Secondly, Brown mentions a more linguistic issue; Hearing that the game has a Korean name can be a challenge for people to adopt the game. Third, in Us, consoles are still dominated the market where online games in Korea take up 70 percent of the market compared to just 3 percent for console games. Finally, shutdown system in South Korea that prevents anyone below the age of 16 from accessing online games between the hours of midnight to 6 AM is a hurdle as well.

Finally Brown states, “As more people show interest in Korean games, more developers are showing interest in catering to international markets and they are paying more attention to localization”.

So, globalization have brought in not just issues of workforce and the relevant labor practices surrounding that but also it raises questions about transnational cultural practices prevalent in different places, different markets and different products. The question therefore facing us is how to embrace it, because globalization is here and we may need to adapt our principles and practices.

Working Bibliography

[1] : CHARLES DUHIGG and KEITH BRADSHER “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work” [January 21, 2012 ]

[2] : CURTIS FILE “As Korean game industry expands, cultural hurdles are breached” [2013/04/09]

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