The increasing speed of technological diffusion across the global economy is referred to as technological globalization. It refers to the spread of technologies throughout the world, particularly from developed to developing countries.
Arjun Appadurai, who considered technological globalization to be one of the five spheres of globalization,’ conducted extensive research on the global flow of technologies. He dubbed technological globalization the ‘technosphere,’ claiming that it is both an effect and a cause of globalization.
As a result of globalization, we can see that technologies spread more quickly as a result of political globalization (the increased interconnectedness of nations) and economic globalization (the rise of a global economy facilitated by the liberalization of trade). For example, free trade agreements can make it easier to move technological innovations across borders, and manufacturing in developing countries can make those technologies more affordable.
However, it is also a cause of globalization because new technologies such as the internet and cell phones make cross-border trade and interactions easier. Similarly, technologies that have improved the efficiency of air travel have contributed to an increase in the flow of people around the world.
Technological Globalization Examples
The Expansion of Multinational Technology Corporations
Trade liberalization and economic globalization have aided the growth of multinational corporations such as Microsoft, Apple, and Sony. If you travel around the world, chances are the televisions in every airport are from one of four or five major television brands. Chances are, wherever you go in the world, the phones will be manufactured by Samsung, Apple, or another of the major multinational mobile phone corporations.
Mobile banking has enabled people to access money more quickly than ever before, both at home and around the world. Smartphone stock trading apps, in particular, enable capital ownership to be shuffled around the world more quickly than ever before, aiding globalization and lowering the cost of start-up capital to facilitate new business development.
While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering examples of technological globalization, this is one factor that has a significant impact on our lives. Using machines to manufacture reduces labor costs, which has two competing effects: lower labor costs (leading to cheaper goods) and job loss in traditional manufacturing.
Globalization of the Media
One consequence of the spread of technologies and technological knowledge (primarily from developed to developing countries) has been the globalization of media presented on technologies such as computers and cell phones. The United States has emerged as a major exporter of media culture (through Hollywood films, for example). Some are concerned that this will dilute indigenous cultures and lead to the development of a single global culture (called cultural homogenization).
The Advantages of Technological Globalization
Facilitated International Trade
As air flight innovation improves, we can use digital technologies to speed up customs at national borders, move money more efficiently, and even move goods faster. The rise of international currency conversion apps such as TransferWise is a prime example.
Trade automation technologies can contribute to a more cohesive globalized economy. This will hasten the development of market efficiencies and scale economies (such as those discussed in my article on economic globalization). One example is that if one country has a competitive advantage in producing a specific good, it can produce it in large quantities and make it cheaply available to the entire world.
According to the World Bank technological globalization has “contributed to rising domestic productivity levels in advanced and emerging economies.” Technologies can help us produce goods more efficiently and with less manpower, lowering the cost of those goods and allowing businesses to scale more quickly.
According to the World Bank, technological globalization has reduced poverty rates globally. According to them, “rapid technological progress in developing countries has been critical to poverty reduction in recent decades.” Despite this positive outcome, there are clear losers from globalization, as discussed further below.
More Rapid Technological Innovation
The global spread of technology has also enabled scientists and engineers all over the world to compete on a global scale. Each nation observes and builds on the innovations of others, allowing technology to advance at an increasing rate.
The Disadvantages of Technological Globalization
It has not bridged the digital divide
The digital divide occurs when wealthier people have more access to technology than poorer people. The unequal distribution of technology gives wealthier developed countries a comparative advantage. While technological globalization has accelerated the spread of technologies around the world, the digital divide between and within nations remains.
Machines to Replace Workers
In factories, new technologies have been implemented to replace workers in menial tasks. While this has resulted in lower-cost goods, many are concerned that it will destroy entire industries, leaving people unemployed and disillusioned. Andrew Yang, for example, warns about the impact of automated driverless trucks on the trucking industry:
As more people gain access to global media technologies, the dominant media producers (namely, the United States and, in particular, Hollywood) spread their cultures throughout the world. As a result, many people blame globalization for the “Disneyfication of culture,” in which indigenous and local cultures are diluted.
Also Read: The Effects of Computers on Globalization