The Rise of Globalization

How a new, global, technology-enabled economy gave rise to unprecedented growth and development.

Increased competition and innovation
Malcolm McLean
Less than 1%
GDP growth
The Iranian Revolution
China, India, and Mexico

Post-War International Trade

The growth of global trade following World War II reshaped businesses and economies worldwide.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was established in 1947, aiming to reduce trade barriers and promote economic cooperation among nations. This period saw the rise of international organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which played crucial roles in fostering global economic growth.


The post-war era witnessed the rapid expansion of international trade, with the volume of global exports increasing more than eightfold between 1950 and 1973. This growth was driven by the liberalization of trade policies, technological advancements, and the increasing interdependence of national economies.

The rise of multinational corporations and the spread of manufacturing to lower-cost countries further accelerated the growth of global trade, transforming the landscape of business and industry.

The Emergence of Multinational Corporations

The rise of multinational corporations during the post-war period significantly impacted global business, trade, and economic growth.

These corporations expanded their operations across national borders, taking advantage of differences in labor costs, resources, and market opportunities.

Companies like IBM, Coca-Cola, and Ford established subsidiaries and production facilities in various countries, contributing to the diffusion of technology, management practices, and capital.


Multinational corporations played a pivotal role in the globalization of business, as they facilitated the flow of goods, services, and investments across borders. Their growth also led to increased competition and innovation, as firms sought to gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace. However, the rise of multinational corporations also raised concerns about their influence on local economies, labor standards, and the environment.

Containerization and Global Shipping

The invention of containerization transformed global shipping, logistics, and the movement of goods. This revolutionary idea was the brainchild of American entrepreneur Malcolm McLean, who came up with the brilliant concept of using standardized shipping containers that could be loaded, unloaded, and transported with ease between ships, trucks, and trains.

This one simple idea dramatically reduced the time and cost of moving goods, paving the way for the rapid expansion of international trade. Containerization quickly took the global shipping industry by storm, leading to the development of larger and more efficient container ships and the growth of major port cities like Rotterdam, Singapore, and Hong Kong.


Thanks to containerization, it also became more cost-effective to transport goods across long distances, which facilitated the relocation of manufacturing to lower-cost countries. This transformation in global shipping and logistics played a crucial role in shaping the modern global economy and the rise of globalization as we know it.

The Rise of Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs)

Rapid industrialization in countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore led to their integration into the global economy. These Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs) experienced remarkable economic growth in the post-war period, driven by export-oriented industrialization, investment in infrastructure, and the development of human capital.


The success of the NICs demonstrated the potential for developing countries to achieve rapid economic growth and improve living standards through integration with the global economy.

The rise of the NICs also had significant implications for global trade and investment patterns. As these countries became major exporters of manufactured goods, they attracted foreign investment and technology transfers, further fueling their economic growth.

The emergence of the NICs contributed to the shift in global economic power from the West to Asia and highlighted the importance of trade and investment in driving economic development.

The Rise of China

China’s economic growth and its impact on global trade have been nothing short of remarkable. Since initiating market-oriented reforms in the late 1970s, China has transformed itself from a predominantly agrarian society to the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s rapid industrialization and integration into the global economy have made it a major player in international trade, with its share of global exports rising from less than 1% in 1980 to over 12% in 2015.


Such a fast rise has had profound implications for global business and trade. As a major exporter of manufactured goods, China became a key driver of global economic growth and a critical link in global supply chains. Its growing middle class has also created new market opportunities for businesses around the world.

However, China’s rise has also raised concerns about its impact on the environment, labor standards, and global economic imbalances.

The European Economic Community (EEC)

The formation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957 was a historic moment that changed the course of European history. By creating a single market for goods, services, capital, and labor, the EEC aimed to foster economic integration and growth among its member states.

This remarkable achievement played a pivotal role in the post-war reconstruction of Europe, promoting trade liberalization, investment, and the harmonization of economic policies.


Smaller economies in the EEC such as Ireland, Portugal, and Spain experienced significant GDP growth in the early years due to increased trade and investment. They gained access to a larger market for their goods and services upon joining the EEC in the 1970s.

And the EEC’s impact didn’t stop there – it inspired other regional trade agreements and economic blocs, such as NAFTA and ASEAN, that contributed to the growth of global trade and the deepening of economic interdependence among nations.

The Oil Crises of the 1970s

The oil crises of the 1970s affected global economies, leading to changes in business practices and energy policies.

The first oil crisis in 1973 was triggered by the decision of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) to impose an oil embargo on the United States and other Western countries in response to their support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War.


The second oil crisis in 1979 was caused by the Iranian Revolution, which disrupted oil supplies and led to a sharp increase in oil prices.

These crises exposed the vulnerability of the global economy to fluctuations in oil prices and highlighted the need for greater energy security and diversification. In response, businesses and governments around the world implemented measures to improve energy efficiency, invest in alternative energy sources, and reduce their dependence on oil imports.

The Global Spread of Manufacturing

The relocation of manufacturing to lower-cost countries reshaped global production networks, labor markets, and economic development.

As multinational corporations sought to reduce production costs and improve efficiency, they increasingly outsourced manufacturing to countries with lower labor costs, such as China, India, and Mexico.

This shift in global manufacturing patterns contributed to the growth of export-oriented industries in these countries, as well as the decline of manufacturing employment in advanced economies.


The global spread of manufacturing also had significant implications for economic development and income inequality. While it created new employment opportunities and spurred economic growth in developing countries, it also led to job losses and wage stagnation in advanced economies.

This process of globalization and the associated challenges continue to shape the global economy and the future of work.

The Rise of International Finance

The growth of international finance has revolutionized the financial landscape, bringing about greater interdependence among financial markets and the emergence of global financial centers like London and New York.

This was driven by the liberalization of capital flows, development of new financial instruments, and growth of multinational corporations, which facilitated the movement of capital across borders and expanded investment opportunities.


However, this growth also led to increased interconnectedness among global financial markets, making them more vulnerable to shocks and crises. The 1980s witnessed financial crises in Latin America, followed by the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, which highlighted the risks and challenges of globalizing finance.

To ensure the stability and resilience of the global financial system, greater international cooperation and regulation are needed. These events remind us that the evolution of international finance has been a double-edged sword, with benefits and drawbacks that require careful management.

Early Challenges and Opportunities of Globalization

Businesses, governments, and societies navigated the challenges and opportunities of globalization up to the 1980s. The growth of international trade, the rise of multinational corporations, and the spread of manufacturing to lower-cost countries created new market opportunities and sources of economic growth.

At the same time, these developments also raised concerns about the impact of globalization on labor standards, the environment, and income inequality.

”" by President George H.W. Bush, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico, and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada marked a historic moment.”)

Governments and international organizations sought to address these challenges through a combination of trade liberalization, economic cooperation, and the development of global governance institutions.

The establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, for example, aimed to promote free trade and resolve trade disputes among its member countries. As the world continues to grapple with the complexities of globalization, the lessons of the past provide valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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