by Frank Brüggemann
A lot of companies expand their business into international markets. In most cases, the motive is a search for improved cost efficiency or looking for the chance to expand and achieve growth. Today, companies are able to respond rapidly to many foreign sales opportunities; this is made easier by technological, governmental, and institutional developments. They can shift production quickly among countries because of their experience in foreign markets and because goods can be transported efficiently from most places. Companies can also distribute component and/or product manufacturing among countries to take advantage of cost differences.
Once a few companies respond to foreign market and production opportunities, others may see that there are foreign opportunities for them as well. All this is a part of the so called “globalisation”.
In operating globally, a company has to consider what the company will seek to do and become over the long term (mission), its specific performance targets to fulfil its mission (objectives), and the means to reach its targets (strategy). There are many factors that may influence companies to succeed in doing global business and remaining competitive in the global arena.
Many companies are riding on the wave of globalisation; some of their employees might get tangled up in the flow of the wave with more and more personal involvement as the borders between the working day and the private life become “grey”. They are challenged with a multi-lingual working environment, exposure to different cultures, an increase of pace and stress, they must adapt in order to succeed.
The job profiles and working conditions of an international company are nowadays aligned to totally different factors as possibly to a decade ago. The markets are not limited anymore to the exclusive region in which the company is based, but to the whole world. Additionally, technological developments have promoted a flood of communications on every level of economy which helped to ease the way of globalisation.
7 Conclusion – Part 4
Is the daily work life affected by the process of globalisation, which is influencing the attitudes of the company or the employers? Generally yes, it is.
We have seen that this company and the whole economy changed their orientation on the market and thus their attitudes and policies to their employees. Tremendous revolutions took place in the plot of the working life of an employee in contrast to decades before “globalisation” made pace.
The examined company moves in a global environment. The requirements to do so for this company no longer exclusively refer to their core competencies and activities, e.g. within the production goods range from purely a technological view. But include far more interdisciplinary entwinements (labour unions; wage policies; etc.), which the company and the employee must go around.
Having observed items the employee depends on, tendencies in the answers such as the sorrows and insecurities the employees have because of changed work conditions, we can conclude there are several interactions between the economy, the society, the enterprises and the single employee, but there is only a little focus on the impacts on this little “cog-wheel” – the employee and his private life.
Even in literature there are only a few scientists who researched in this environment. Scientists on the subject of globalisation like GOSHAL, BARTLETT and YIP are mainly focused on the economy and the enterprises – not on the humans “behind all this”. So, there is a wide field for investigation on how our society, and the individuals in it, are going to change in the coming years with regard to ongoing globalisation.
The major difficulty during globalisation is, like in material existing communism, the human being. It is not foreseeable how an employee is acting in a company that is going global. Because of this each person may think egoistically first, and also company heads provide first for their company and their profit. And furthermore each state puts first its own interests at expense of the other. A good example of this is the European Union, in which only important resolutions come to tough negotiations.
No technical invention, no political development, and no social change – automatically leads exclusively to change for the better or worse for everyone. No well intended ideology or policy will bring eternal peace. Wealth for all is not realisable, neither by economic systems, nor by globalisation. Every employee in a global company is affected by globalisation – even though everyone is not yet fully aware of how it currently functions.
So, he must try to understand what is happening and why and he must regard globalisation as a personal challenge and take personal action. Finally in such a work situation he will and has to pay attention more than ever to his job and his personal life, in order to be able to exist in a global job market.
In fact, the “Impact of globalisation on daily working life” is there. The company passes on the pressure of globalisation to each and everyone of the workforce – it has to.
But first of all globalisation is neutral. It holds risks and even chances for a nation state, a corporation and finally also for the single employee even in his daily job situation.
Globalisation is furthermore not a natural phenomenon. It is sought and made by people. That is why every single employee can also change, shape and guide it in the right direction.
What counts is what the single employee makes out of the new possibilities.
As far as the company is globalised, or better spoken, as far as the company is determined by the characteristics of globalisation, e.g. entering into new cultures, as far are the employees forced to adapt to those habits, just as being highly flexible also goes with it.
Deficits in qualifications and flexibility of the workforce could destabilise the position of the company in a global “arena”. Consequently the company cannot make use of the workforce in a way it would like to do, to fulfil the requirements in global markets.
The needs of workers themselves have changed. There is more and more talk about the need to balance work and family or personal responsibilities. The labour force has become increasingly diversified, and this means that ongoing training has become a necessity. Moreover, workers want a greater say in workplace organisation.
Despite this movement toward globalisation, there remain significant environmental differences between countries and regions. Managers in an international business must be sensitive to these differences and also must adapt to the appropriate policies and strategies for dealing with them (YIP, 1995).
Significant aspects of globalisation with regard to influences and altering processes in the daily job are e.g. the trend to shift toward more highly skilled jobs, as it is shown in Table 2 and the trend that production and jobs have progressively shifted from the goods sector to the service sector, so that knowledge-based industries have grown. That means more and more occupations take place in the office and not as much in a workshop as before.
But all the evidence is that these changes would be taking place – not necessarily at the same pace – with or without globalisation. In fact, globalisation is currently making this process easier and maybe less costly to the economy as a whole by bringing the benefits of capital flows, technological innovations, and lower import prices. Thus, all the challenges and changes an employee has, could not have been avoided.
Economic growth, employment and living standards are all higher than they would be in a closed economy, so the economy as a whole will of course flourish from policies that embrace globalisation by generally promoting an open economy , and coincidently by undertaking of the industry and the government to focus on education and vocational training, to make sure that workers and employees have the opportunity to acquire the right skills in dynamic changing work environments.
The philosophy of world companies such as Sony, Coca Cola or McDonald’s “to produce and sell theirs products on the whole world” became generally accepted more and more: Today liberty is defined as boundless consumption. The problem of this variant from free-market economy is however:
If there is only the market, everything and everyone becomes the commodity. Companies with ten thousand employees are sold back and forth several times in one year. The individuals fate apparently of no interest, as long as the dividend is good.
Are there any possibilities to defend oneself against this?
Numerous other socio-economic factors currently affect the workplace and the people in it.
The rapid pace of technological change is transforming the workplace and the job experience.
It is facilitating the growth of various non-standard forms of work, especially home work, telework and part-time work.
It has been shown how the requirements in a globalised working environment have changed over the years. Here are some recommendations to be implemented or at the very least considered in order to fulfil these requirements in the daily working life.
Upon closer consideration of all previous thoughts it has become clear that, in general learning in and for the daily job is of most significance for anticipating your future employability and an ongoing satisfaction in the current job. This requires some education, and because learning new skills takes time, it is additionally important to plan ahead and identify the types of skills that will make the employee most employable in the job market. It had been already said that what counts is what the single employee makes of the new possibilities. Thus the employee has to cope with his personal situation and should gain an overview of his work environment and the associated possibilities. Derived from the situational facts some more questions arise, which ought to be considered for further action and planning:
Ø How do global shifts in the market and workplace apply to the employee?
The hierarchical structures and the discrepancies between the divisions that are global focused and those that are local focused in this very company are an example of shifts in that very workplace. At the edge of an internal merger of these divisions it has to be evaluated if an increase e.g. in travel is really feasible for the employee; if working in a global team is desired due to different cultures and habits; and if the employee is able to communicate in an unfamiliar environment.
Ø What opportunities do those global shifts create for the employee?
Those shifts could of course in general have positive or negative effects upon the employee. If the employee is keen on getting to know new people and able to communicate in a proper and adequate manner, he might see this shift as a true opportunity, and thus it could contribute to his career.
If he is not enthusiastic toward that shift, it might cause some trouble for him because he has to e.g. learn a foreign language or work together with colleagues who have a totally different mentality. This could cause dissatisfaction in the job, psychological problems may be, and could lead to a certain lack of productivity for the company.
Ø How can the employee prepare himself for the possibilities of the future?
It is critical to stay current with and be aware of what new skills are needed to remain highly employable. The employee should tune in to formal and informal information channels that relate to his work, especially in the areas of technological developments, economic influences, globalisation, legislation, and competition. He should discover where he can use his strongest, most enjoyed skills to meet a need or to solve an important problem.
When critical changes arise at the horizon – and in a globalised work environment which, is almost every day – it is most important to undertake learning projects to be prepared for dealing with those situations. In fact, the ability to learn effectively is a very important skill to have in a globalised world in which knowledge increases rapidly every year.
For companies and employees alike, being on the competitive edge in global processes means, being on the learning edge. It is not enough to simply perform as you did yesterday or last week. As someone working in a globalised company you also should constantly build “performance capability”. Increasingly, the degree or professionalism is determined largely by the ability to quickly acquire new information and adjust to new situations. In fact, a key measure of learning is how well the acquired knowledge is applied and converted into improved performance.
Helpful for this is also reflecting upon and exchange of past experiences and reaching conclusions about them for future application. This really means deriving actions from those findings. Some individual benefits of learning from day-to-day experiences is keeping ahead of and attuned to change, finally attaining a greater sense of work satisfaction.
7.1.1 Further recommendations for the company
The Company should not only deliver “technical” knowledge or just facts in the manner of language courses e.g. for preparing their workforce, but they should offer the possibilities of getting to know the real characteristics of a foreign colleague – what makes a Chinese a Chinese for example. This could e.g. be done by multicultural parties in different locations sponsored and held by employees of several foreign subsidiaries.
Or the company could offer a forum for exchange: If the company would have a data base in which everyone who is interested in going into a foreign country would be registered. The assumption of this topic is that someone who is personally interested in doing so, has a deep desire and motivation for this. Thus it makes it easier for the company to promote only the “right” persons for working abroad.
If a company is going global it has to take care that it is possible for everyone in that company to experience the process of globalisation and its meaning on a local and individual level.
7.1.2 Further recommendations for the employee
It is generally important to deal with stress at work in the right manner; therefore it is also of importance to make clear in which environment one is working. If the company has several subsidiaries located in different time zones, it will definitely arise one day that the employee would have to come into the office early in the morning or late at night, if there is a live video conference e.g. Thus he should be mentally prepared for that to avoid stress in that specific situation. If the employee prefers to have regular working times, he should rather join a local acting team or company.
To stand against this pressure put on him by the characteristics of globalisation, he should actively get up – actively means not to wait until the stress comes up or occurs, but to do something against it in advance. This could be joining vocational trainings, knowing more about your rights in the working place, maybe participating in a labour-union, or just conscious of the challenges in a positive manner and break through without being stressed.
All this could be done or better still should be done to overcome personal obstacles in a globalised work environment and to “survive” all the implications and unpleasantness of “globalisation”, and thereby enjoy more fully the positive aspects which would lead to greater job satisfaction.
We live in the age of globalisation: A growing mobility, the dismantling of borders and trade barriers and other blurred frontiers accompanied with technological developments and radical changes enable the global village to develop. There is already a 24-hour financial market and increasingly there is the 24-hour working, shopping, and banking day. All this has consequences upon patterns of working which in turn refract into our personal lives and relationships.
We generally have to change our way of thinking concerning work in future. And we have to change our habits if we are to work in a globalised company or one that is affiliated to such. We should get rid of imaginations that deal with going to an office early in the morning and returning late in the afternoon. We should get rid of working in the same profession all life long. The scientist CHARLES DARWIN once said: “It’s not the strongest species that survive nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change”. This is, I believe, one of the most important aspects of globalisation with regard to influences and altering processes in
the daily job. Each employee should be aware of that, when planning his personal job career or just joining a global company and especially when confronted with these issues.
Moreover and concluding according to my opinion, is the development and influence of information and communication technology the synonym for the move towards a knowledgebased economy which is the real meta driving force. This can be compared with the great leaps forward such as when steam powered the industrial revolution and transformed agriculture and electricity ignited consumerism. I suppose that a knowledge based revolution will have an impact on all aspects of human endeavour and will cause us to review and redefine economic, social, cultural, and political activity, and thus my daily job. This impression is
gained by the experiences made in the company during the last years when more and more activities focus and refer on an increasing number of data bases, so called “Knowledge Banks”. The knowledge in the institutions grew so rapidly during the last decades that it became necessary to handle this knowledge on a global base in an appropriate way. This assumption of a “new age” is confirmed by the KONDRATIEFF CYCLE, which says that the general development happens in waves with an approximately wave-length of 50 years.
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