“If I were King of the forest…” Those of us who have been alive during the second half of the Twentieth Century recognize the refrain of the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz. His assessment of his own situation led him to a conclusion, which regardless of its basis in fact, became, for him, reality. His lack of confidence created its own barriers. The influence of globalisation on local communities driven by dramatic changes is not one of those “blinding flashes of the obvious” that seems to sneak up on us, but is somewhat predictable. The topic of how local business reacts to these changes is a question to be placed in the middle of the land of Oz.
Because of the “glitz and glamor” of the global concept many times thinking about local communities is neglected. Advances in technology have led to the current global grid driven by one thing, information. The primary mission of business is to provide solutions, and this technology explosion has provided opportunities and market applications for those solutions. Local businesses now have an opportunity to move beyond their restricted geography of the past into the global arena with the use of technology. A local store in a remote village in Kentucky has the same opportunity as a large store in London to access global customers. It could be exciting times for local businesses if they used technology to their advantage.
The greatest danger to the viability of local communities is not globalization but a retreat into isolationism and protectionism. In the global economy, those people and organizations that are isolated and cut off are at a disadvantage. Ironically, the best way for communities to preserve their local control is to become more competitive globally[i].
“O welcome, pure-ey’d Faith, white-handed Hope, thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings!” (John Milton)
Hope and good attitudes are not enough. worker skills must meet international standards, communities must have visionary leadership, a friendly business climate, a commitment to training, and a spirit of collaboration among businesses and between business and local government. They must pay attention to strengthening local existing businesses. It is impossible to sustain sleepy local companies in an environment in which world-class companies come looking for better technology and skills. The importance of local leadership in establishing communities that are conducive, attractive, and collaborative cannot be overstated.
The effect of globalization on multinationals and on local businesses is changing everything. Local communities can leverage global opportunity in a changing world, but it is more than bricks and mortar. Bricks and mortar are becoming subservient to the technology. The next “blinding flash of the obvious” is the egalitarian nature of this change. Thinking about strengthening local communities in the global marketplace is the “everyone’ & “anywhere” equation. Global and local businesses must begin to think differently about their role. Local communities must determine how best to connect to world markets and how to create a civic culture that will attract, create, and retain globally minded businesses.
In a world that is driven by local economies, the best way for communities to preserve their local control and remain relevant is to become more competitive. That means in this latest “rendition” of business and macro-economics, they must be global in thought and practice. They must be the Kings of the Forest.