The globalization of trade has been running hand-in-hand with technological progress, particularly in the fields of information, management and remote collaboration. The global village that Canadian media philosopher Marshall McLuhan envisioned in the 1960s has developed into an interconnected world of free trade agreements and connected workplaces.
International partnerships that were once considered to be in the exclusive purview of multinational companies can now be attained by small business owners and even self-employed professionals. Thus, a small digital rendering firm could open up a production office in a free trade zone located in Costa Rica or Brazil for the purpose of taking advantage of low taxation, subsidies and skilled workers who earn lower salaries.
Marshall McLuhan believed that the pervasiveness of technology would bring cultures together, and his belief included business cultures. To this effect, here are four situations that illustrate how technology has influenced global business partnerships:
1 – Online Knowledge Repositories
With internet databases such as Crunchbase, people from around the world can learn more about companies that offer international business opportunities. For example, a company such as ASEA water, based in Salt Lake City, can build up its profile for the purpose of expanding its global presence. A major aspect of ASEA’s business model consists of multilevel marketing and direct selling; these are activities that can be handled by overseas representatives as long as the company’s products obtain regulatory authorization.
2 – Strengthening of Connections
Business people who operate on the global enterprise stage need to understand the situations that their international counterparts experience; in other words, more information is needed today in order to understand the global village we live in. Prior to the advent of the internet, news sources were limited to media outlets such as radio, television, newspapers, and magazines. These days, instant and comprehensive news, analysis and opinions are available in real-time and on the go. This wide availability of information translates into a greater understanding of our foreign business and trade partners.
3 – Global Dependency
The global market is all interconnected, and whether we like to admit it or not, dependent on one another. In many cases, migrant workers will travel to other countries where there are better working conditions and pay. They will work and send their wages back to their families and others in a different country. One country or territory may also be dependent on the imports and exports of another country. Technology has aided in all of this as it has helped make the transfer of funds and information move more quickly and accurately.
4 – South-South Cooperation
This is one of the most interesting global village developments enabled by technology. South-South cooperation refers to the joint actions taken by developing nations connected by means of instant communications and information sharing. One example of south-south cooperation is M-Pesa, a revolutionary digital wallet launched by wireless telephone operators in Kenya a decade ago. M-Pesa worked effectively with basic cell phones that predate the advent of smartphones; users could (and still can) use their devices to deposit money, make payments, and transfer funds to other mobile phones. Once M-Pesa matured in Kenya, the system launched in Tanzania and Afghanistan. The M-Pesa developers in Nairobi were able to share their knowledge with their African and Middle Eastern neighbors by means of instant messaging, email, and online collaboration.
In the end, the extent and benefit of the global partnerships we now take for granted would not be possible without the technology advances we have been enjoying since the late 20th century. The future success of the global village depends on the continuous advance of these technologies.
About the Author
Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2