The False Promise of Globalization
The failure of higher education and the resulting permanent shortage of effective managerial leadership is the reason why globalization offers a hollow promise for real development. It’s the reason why the pot of gold at the end of the globalization rainbow is the “middle income trap.” Western-style infrastructure and production facilities for local or regional markets have existed and employed people in underdeveloped countries before “globalization” became a popular term. Publicly or behind the scenes, such facilities have been overwhelmingly managed by expatriates or minority populations consisting of Westerners and Asians. That is why their influence was limited to the so-called “modern sector.” The influence of such facilities did not spread or propagate in a significant way to the “traditional sector” or to the poorer, larger economy. This is why underdevelopment is persistent. (chapter 2)
Globalization operations do provide local employment and have led to rising incomes in some countries. But without a stable and increasing supply of managerial talent, such growth has been shallow and reversible. That is why mostly foreign investors and local gatekeepers have been enriched by globalization. Without managerial competence or resonance, the residual benefits of globalization for the rest of the economy and potential multiplier effects will not be fully realized because they will not be fully availed. At least not unless residual benefits are spearheaded and supervised by more foreign interests, while much of the population is left out and left behind. (chapter 2)
Due to the unfulfilled need for expatriate managerial leadership, globalization cannot ever develop these countries to the level that will rival the economies of the West or the developed countries of Asia. The sheer numbers of expatriate agents that will take advantage of local opportunities and maintain them, to the extent seen in the developed countries, are more than most underdeveloped countries can financially afford and probably more than they can politically tolerate. The “middle income trap” can then be seen as another name for the limits of expatriate-led growth or globalization. Moreover, the symptoms of underdevelopment remain, even after the ceiling of the middle income trap is reached. (chapter 2)
Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr.