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Chapter 4 – Globalization, Entrepreneurial Cities, and the Social Economyi - page 2 / 12





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be conquered by time'iv. As an emergent phenomenon that derives from these processes and reacts back on their subsequent development, globalization can be seen as both a structural and a structuring phenomenon. Given its complex, overdetermined nature, however, globalization is always prey to uneven development and reversals.

Strategically, globalization refers to actors' attempts to coordinate their activities on a global scale. Such attempts can be pursued through different material and social technologies on the interpersonal, interorganizational, interinstitutional, and intersystemic levels. These are exemplified in: interpersonal networking (e.g., the Chinese diaspora); interorganizational 'strategic alliances' orchestrated by transnational enterprises (alliances which may include more local or regionally-based firms as well as non-profit-oriented organizations); the institutional design of 'international regimes' to govern particular fields of action; and various projects for global governance or even comprehesive world government. Needless to say, whether as strategy or project, 'globalization' has no guarantees of success.

Seen from this viewpoint, what is generally labeled nowadays as 'economic globalization' rarely, if ever, involves full structural integration -- let alone complete strategic coordination -- across the globe. Among processes included under this rubric are: (a) the internationalization of national economic spaces through growing penetration (inward flows) and extraversion (outward flows); (b) the formation of regional economic blocs embracing several national economies; (c) the development of economic ties between local and regional authorities in different national economies -- ties which often by-pass the national level but are sometimes sponsored by one or more national states; (d) the movement of multinational companies (MNCs) and transnational banks (TNBs) from limited economic activities abroad to more comprehensive and worldwide strategies, sometimes extending to 'global localization' in and through which firms pursue a global strategy based on exploiting local differences; (e) the opening of national borders through various liberalization measures; (f) the widening and deepening of international regimes covering economic and economically relevant issues; and (g) the emergence of globalization proper through the introduction and acceptance of global norms and standards, the development of globally integrated markets together with globally oriented strategies, and 'deracinated' firms with no evident national operational base. In each case these processes could be said to be contributing -- in however mediated and indirect a way and on whatever scale -- to the structural integration and/or strategic coordination of the economic system on a global scale. But they do so in a dispersed, fragmented, and partial manner.

Moreover, far from homogenizing economic space, the various processes involved in globalization actually involve the re-ordering -- across a wide range of economic spaces on different spatial scales -- of differences and complementarities as the basis for dynamic competitive advantages. The latter can be understood in terms of 'structural competitiveness' (Chesnais 1986) or in the even broader terms of 'systemic competitiveness' (Messner 1996)v. Both concepts highlight the continuing importance of place (in both its terrestrial and territorial aspects) in competition. Thus economic globalization is typically, if paradoxically, linked to a re-valorization of the role of the 'region' in economic activities and economic intervention. In this context, of course, 'region' covers a multitude of scales from hemispheres and triads to sub- or cross-border regions. Each of these regions is struggling in one way or another for competitive advantage. However, since competitiveness is always relational and dynamic, the competitive game always produces comparative losers as well as winners.

In this sense globalization is better interpreted as the most inclusive structural context in which processes on other economic scales could be identified and inter-related and/or as the broadest horizon of action to which accumulation strategies and economic projects can be directed. This implies that economic processes are multi-scalar and that globalization is best seen as an emergent, overdetermined, phenomenon rather than as a sui generis causal mechanism. Globalization depends, in short, on sub-global processes. Moreover, regarded as an horizon of action, globalization means thinking globally, even if acting locally, regionally, or triadically. One does not need to be omnipresent in order to insert oneself favourably into the global division of labour. This not only holds for firms but also, and even more forcefully, for localities, cities, regions, or states. But one must increasingly think about one's strategic advantages and disadvantages in relation to global processes. It follows that an appropriate focus in studying economic globalization is the changing global economic hierarchy, its changing scalar division of labour, its emerging structural contradictions and strategic dilemmas, its various sources of resistance, and its linkages to other fields of globalization.

Globalization and the welfare state

What does this approach to globalization imply for the analysis of the state, cities, and social movements in advanced capitalism? Above all, it means that not only past spatial fixes, but also past scalar fixes, are

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