Two Visions of Globalism
© Charles M Hampden-Turner 1997
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I contend that there are two visions of globalism. I call these Globalism I and Globalism II. The most commonly cited globalism is the first and it shuts Malaysia and much of East Asia out of any right to modify the rules of capitalism or originate new rules. Only Globalism II gives Malaysia and its neighbors the right to dispute with the West how wealth is actually created.
Globalism I is really an extension of American-style capitalism. The "New World" is widened to include the whole world. Americans have welcomed so many immigrants to their shores that foreigners are routinely regarded as would-be immigrants, eager to assimilate. This style of globalism sees capitalism as a Finite Game (a game whose object is to end quickly with a winner and a loser). The sooner the losers resources are reallocated to the winner the better. All players prey on their opponents and victory is all. This game was invented in Britain and refined in the USA which now attempts to impose these rules on everyone else. Globalism I not only posits One Game, but One-Best-Way of playing that game, regardless of culture. This is taught at Harvard and Standford.
America both plays this game internationally and referees it, imposing its ideal of a "level playing field" in which US and Malaysian banks compete "as equals" in each others markets.
Globalism II is a major revisioning of Globalism I and is still a minority persuasion. Its advantage is that it comprehends the reasons for East Asia's rise to economic power, including Malaysia's achievements. Globalism II grows out of what is particular to a region, its unique values and culture, not out of one nation's claims to universality. East Asian capitalism plays an Infinite Game (a game whose object is to improve play and evolve the game itself).
While players will win and lose as in the Finite Game, the overriding purpose is to learn from this feedback how to perfect the game. The Way of Electronics or the Way of Biotechnology is the focus of all players, who quickly adopt and share in winning plays as whole industries follow best practices.
Globalism II challenges the belief that the rules of capitalism have been decided in advance by America or by economic "science". Rather global capitalism evolves among national and corporate players with diverse value systems, who agree to new rules. Consider Malaysia's Multimedia Super-Corridor. Is this simply a "smart move" in a pre-existing game, or a totally new game with new Cyberspace rules devised by Malaysia itself and accepted by those transacting business there? It is surely the latter. Infinite Games lose their boundaries, competitors cooperate, polarities dissolve.
Globalism II may lead to universalism also, but a different kind. Here values are the shared products of dialogue, of joint decisions about what most improves productive processes. Malaysia sells to the world not only its goods and services, but the whole, underlying design of its culture and values. My partner Fons Trompenaars and I have the world's largest database on business values and how these vary between cultures.
Malaysian managers, for example, show an extraordinary willingness to ride the waves of world markets, enjoy team-work in which everyone can participate, prefer the unique and exceptional above generalisations, go beyond contractual obligations to deepen relationships, persevere mightily to find consensus and prefer the common good to personal advantage.
Globalism II goes beyond commodities and MacWorld to seek the cross-fertilisation of diverse values, an Infinite Game wrought from the diversity of plays and players.
Professor Charles Hampden-Turner taught in America for 20 years and is now at the Judge Institute of Management at Cambridge University. He is one of the Keynote Speakers at the 26th IFTDO World Conference and Exhibition on Training Development - New Paradigms: Wholistic Human Resource Development; Oct 28-30 at PWTC Kuala Lumpur.
For more details, contact Conference Manager RAYMA Management Consultants (M'sia) Sdn Bhd, at Tel: (03) 7044 666 Fax: (03) 7044 484 or email: email@example.com