President, Plexus Consulting Group
It is counterintuitive that the more globalization takes root, the more nationalism asserts itself.
But it is a fact that there are more nations in existence in the world today than ever in the history of our planet. The number stands at approximately 196 countries and counting. South Sudan was the most recent nation to be added to the list, with more sure to come. For those grappling to understand the forces exerted by globalization this seemingly contradictory trend is key to understanding a critical facet of globalization’s impact on our economy and society—that it allows us to celebrate our differences as well as those things that link us together as human beings.
The underlying reason for this growth of nationalism in this era of globalization is twofold.
First, the circumstances that have made possible the largely peaceful co-existence of the planet’s nations since the Second World War have also made it safe for long suppressed nationalities to assert themselves. If nations are a form of extended family, then it is natural for them to take pride in their identities at a time when they no longer need to be subservient to a foreign power.
Second, as individuals we instinctively resist conformity. Yes, we want to benefit from access to the wealth and technology and goods and services from anywhere in the world that strikes our fancy, but we don’t want to lose our identities in the process. Globalization is not the Faustian bargain that it is often portrayed to be.
So what does this mean for managers of organizations that aspire to be global? It means that nations are here to stay and that you ignore them at your own risk. It means that you need to think long and hard about tailoring products to meet local needs and customs. Having free access to sell to the global market does not mean one size fits all.