Globalization Backlash and an Enduring Legacy?
Finally, at the end of his publishing career – when he was in his mid-seventies to early eighties – Kobrin published four essayistic articles under the broad umbrella theme of globalization backlash. They reproduced here with their full abstracts. They reflect on and integrate his life’s work and are likely to significantly shape the future of our field. It is clear we have lost a great visionary.
Is a global nonmarket strategy possible? Economic integration in a multipolar world order [Journal of World Business, 2015]
Technology has changed the underlying structure of the world economy, increasing the cost of autonomy and making devolution unlikely. On the other hand, the increasing number of players, a multipolar world system and the rise of non-liberal powers make multilateral agreements increasingly problematic. Thus, there is an asymmetry between the MNC’s market environment (an integrated international economy) and its nonmarket environment (a fragmented international political system). This paper argues that a cross-border nonmarket strategy is inconsistent with a globally integrated strategy and argues that a global nonmarket environment requires multilaterally accepted norms and rules. Issue-based multilateralism is suggested as a way out of this dilemma.
Bricks and mortar in a borderless world: Globalization, the backlash, and the multinational enterprise [Global Strategy Journal, 2017]
Globalization, increased interconnectedness, and deep integration resulted in significant increases in trade and FDI from 1989 through 2008. The recession marked the end of that trend and the rise of a broad‐based opposition that has economic, social, and political components. This article explores the backlash, arguing that is driven by sociotropic perceptions. While globalization can be explained as a cyclical or structural phenomenon, I argue that technological change results in a networked global economy, the transition from a space of places to a space of flows, and increases the potential cost of devolution to the point where economic independence is no longer feasible. Nonetheless, I conclude that MNCs face a period of prolonged uncertainty and develop implications for firm strategy.
How globalization became a thing that goes bump in the night [Journal of International Business Policy, 2020]
For almost 200 years, globalization has been seen as a positive development, albeit with costs and benefits, and as progress and modernization, a broadening of humanity’s scope from the local and parochial to the cosmopolitan and international. That changed dramatically with the Great Recession, the waves of migration of the last decade, and the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic of 2020. For many, globalization now connotes economic dislocation, increasing inequality, unwanted immigration, and a vehicle for the transmission of disease. The pandemic reminds us that most economic activity takes place within national borders. It has emphasized the dangers rather than the benefits of efficient linkages between markets, laying bare the dangers of complex global supply chains where any node can become a “choke point”, and the risks of overspecialization or the concentration of technological knowledge and/or production capacity in a single country or region. A more positive view of globalization will require restoring the balance between independence and integration, mitigation of its costs within and between countries, and dealing with redundancy and supply risk.
Is a Networked World Economy Sustainable? [EIBA Book series: Progress in International Business, 2021]
Economic nationalism and the COVID-19 pandemic have led many to question the future of globalization. Given the fragility of the second wave, this chapter asks whether globalization is cyclical, sustainable only under the most propitious economic or political conditions or whether technological developments, especially the digital revolution, have changed the underlying structure of production in ways that markedly increase the cost of renationalization. Global production networks (GPNs) are discussed as an example of structural change, the emergence of a networked world economy that is both more extensive and intensive than in the past. The chapter concludes that the international economic environment will be unstable, as attempts to restore national independence and disaggregate GPNs run up against the reality of mutual dependence. While we are unlikely to return to independent national markets, the future shape of globalization is uncertain.
Professor Anne-Wil Harzing
Middlesex University London
AIB Fellows Bibliometrician