What Do We Mean by "Sustainable Globalization?"

Globalization is defined as “the rapid expansion and integration of business activities across borders in response to dramatic technology and government policy changes in the latter part of the 20th century." Globalization has integrated national economic systems through international trade, investment, and capital flows and has increased social, cultural, and technological interactions. World trade has been the engine of world economic growth in the last 50 years. But many poor countries have been left behind because rich countries have subsidized agriculture and blocked access to their markets. The growth in world trade has been unevenly spread. Some developing countries – many in Asia – have increased growth by producing more manufactured goods. But others – often in Africa – have fallen ever farther behind.
    Sustainable globalization represents a breakthrough and a fundamental transformation in how people approach doing business in a global world in the 21st century. It shifts from a zero-sum, selfish, win-lose approach to one that fully takes into account the short- and long-term impacts of people’s actions on the larger ecosystem of which humans are a part, recognizes and values our use of precious natural resources, demonstrates respect for all people on the planet, supports local communities in creating the best possible future for themselves, and builds human, social, and financial capital at the local, national, and global levels. Sustainable globalization is principle-centered, operating on foundational values of service, collaboration, and the triple bottom line.
    To deepen our understanding, we introduce here, and organize this chapter around, a “six lens” practical framework for thinking about sustainable globalization:

•    Economic/financial
•    Technology
•    Poverty and inequity
•    Limits to growth
•    Movement of talent
•    Geopolitical

We take a systematic and holistic view of these complex and interrelated issues to bring them together into an integrated whole that takes all six lenses into account. At the same time, from a practical perspective, we find value in systematically and sequentially looking at each individual lens, before attempting to integrate them into a holistic view of sustainable globalization.
    As we have seen in other chapters, managers in every function can play a key role in shaping the future of their organizations around sustainability. How rapidly can the world advance management systems, structures, and processes so they can be sustainable for the next generation, and the next? The ability of people and businesses to act fast within these six converging arenas will be the perennial test of this and future generations of managers.
    We are heartened to see that business is already beginning to address the environment in areas such as water pollution, alternative fuels, and carbon emissions. Clearly, much more remains to be done, and we have only scratched the surface considering the immense challenges before us. Although carbon emissions are emerging as a new, long-lasting priority, other topics on the sustainability spectrum remain a central field for influencing how business can begin to adjust, shift, and remake itself to manage every day and every decision based on a more complete and sustainable model of success.

This is an excerpt from the book, The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook: When It All Comes Together, edited by Jeana Wirtenberg, PhD with William G. Russell and David Lipsky, PhD. Copyright © 2009 Jeana Wirtenberg.  Published by AMACOM, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved. http://www.amacombooks.org <http://www.amacombooks.org/.To order the book, go to www.greenleaf-publishing.com.

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