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The Irony of Globalization


Written by Eric

I’ve been mulling over this for quite awhile now. I’ve realized that Globalization has indeed done exactly what its name states. Bringing communications to the entire world population, and empowering developing countries to rise up and become industrialized and developed. However, if you were to go to any major website on the internet that has some sorta presence internationally, they still have to develop different local versions of the site for each region. Why is this? Why do they still do this? If the world is globalized, then why do they need a English, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic version?

The Internet is Making the World Smaller

Not only is there the google.com for the US, but there’s Google.es for Spain, Google.cn for China, Google.it for Italy, Google.co.uk for England, etc

Well, not smaller in actuality, but in use. For example, take a look at Google.com. Not only is there the google.com for the US, but there’s Google.es for Spain, Google.cn for China, Google.it for Italy, Google.co.uk for England, etc. And then on top of that, each localized version sometimes has its own content on it. For instance, the English version has the option to only search sites in the UK, while the Chinese version has a ton more media options including the ability to search for music and download them from the search results.

So if Google changed the way to search for things, and is helping globalize the world…then why the heck do we need a different version of Google for each country online? Is it because English is still not spoken everywhere, even though its a requirement for anyone doing business overseas? I just don’t quite understand it. Another example is Aljazeera. While they don’t have a billion different versions like google, they do have an English and Arabic version. And if you were to take a look at both, they’re quite drastically different. The English version has a different layout and carries more US friendly news at the top, while the Arabic version looks completely different and has more a worldwide spread of coverage (from what I can tell from the pictures since I can’t read Arabic). There’s even a flash header/top news thingy on the Arabic version, apparently the English version isn’t good enough for that.

So What?

It hasn’t done any of that, since when your doing in business in China, you still have to obey the cultural traditions. As they say, “when in Egypt, walk like an Egyptian.”

Well, Globalization was supposed to “unite” everyone under one common language (which is sorta has, English is spoken, albeit brokenly, in most countries that do business) and get rid of all the nuances local to each country and culture. Well guess what? It hasn’t done any of that, since when your doing in business in China, you still have to obey the cultural traditions. As they say, “when in Egypt, walk like an Egyptian.” That phrase still proves true today, even though business happens all around the world, the locals in India do it a little differently from the suits in the United States. The irony there is that the foreigners trying to do business in a country like India have to learn and adapt to the local traditions instead of vice versa. So while they might have received our Westernization in the form of McDonalds and such, obviously some traditions die hard.

What Happens Next?

I have no idea, it will be very interesting to see what develops next in how people communicate and do business with each other in this changing world. With many of those “third” world countries becoming developed places, will they eventually lose their cultural traditions adopting strictly Western ways of doing business? Somehow I doubt that…since even now as the best and the brightest coming from countries like India, China, etc still speak their native languages first and better than English.

Even more interesting for me, is how I will have to fit into all of this. Being born in the US, and being an American Born Chinese (or ABC as they call us on the mainland) and only speaking English…I will probably be forced to adopt to their ways of doing business.That will be some adventure when it comes time to it, hopefully my want to travel overseas will make that task easier. What do you all think about this topic? Is it ironic that Globalization and the Internet made international companies adopt to local regional traditions?

Eric Huang


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