The Process and Influences of Globalisation
What Is Globalisation?
Globalisation is a process which describes the change toward 'a more integrated and interdependent world economy' (Hill, 2009: 6). It also includes commodities which could break the geographical limits and influence people's life all over the globe. By the end of the 20th century, the very first step or the most obvious manifestation of globalisation was economic globalisation. The pace of the globalisation process is accelerating dramatically. 'Unprecedented changes in communications, transportation, and computer technology have given the process new impetus and made the world more interdependent than ever' ('Global Policy Forum', 2009). It should be mentioned that there are some forces, even negative forces, that promote the process of globalisation. They are global problems such as transnational crime, ageing of population, food crisis, ecological environment deterioration, and several others. Nowadays, how to correctly understand the day-after-day evident globalisation is a task that people have to deal with.
Process of Globalisation
At the present, we are entering a new era at an extreme pace. It is an era where global economy and culture exchange are growing rapidly, as well as cooperation and interaction are increasing between nations. Many remarkable features are demonstrated compared to the past.
Transportation makes the main contribution to the global society. Due to technology developments like motor ships, railways, and early aircraft, the time spent on travelling form one part of the world to another has continuously been reduced (Scholte, 2002: 19). These transportation networks promote extremely 'both quantitative and qualitative changes in the relationship between economic activity in the realm of global markets and political activity in the realm of inter-state relations' (Higgott and Reich, 1998: 6). Nowadays, earth is worthy of the name village. It won't be an unimaginable dream that people travel from our global village to the space.
The emerging of microelectronics and the rising of information industry make up the modern scientific foundation of the global system (Wang, 2003: 4). Currently, communication networks make use of mobiles phones, televisions, computers, satellites and other modern information strategies to link people together and also to make the entire planet much closer. Even the most remote spots could receive the information from Beijing as well as London does at the same time. The simultaneity of information dissemination and process propel the communication, computerization and automation control of entire human society (Wen, 1997: 2). Consequently, time and space distances are shortened significantly in the present world. Our lives are changed monthly by the power of information technology, as it is said that 'without new information and communication technologies, none of what is changing our lives would be possible' (Castells, 1999: 10).
It could be seen everywhere that economy market sweep the globe as a worldwide trend. Especially those multinational corporations expand once again, which boosts the close level of communication in the areas linked to global economy. The affiliates and subsidiaries of transnational corporations are dealing with their commercial activities across continents, which 'are helping to create global marketplaces' (Hill, 2009: 15) and operation of networks. According to statistics in 1992 (Wen, 1997: 3), the capital of 37,000 multinational corporations account for 40% of GDP, 50% of trade, 75% of technology transfer, and 90% of technology development funds of all the capitalist countries. Now the world economy of globalization, which uses markets as a foundation, is more powerful. It can integrate, transform and renew the manufacture, operation, consumption, etc. With the accelerating pace of the economic globalisation process, the aim to obtain international marketplaces, funds and cooperation of technology development. To deal with these aspects, countries have seen it as essential to expand the economy.
One of the most remarkable features of contemporary technological revolution is hyper-integration of knowledge and technology as well as the integration of theory and application. The time of transforming theoretical research findings into producing a specific product is greatly shortened by this tremendous progress. Technological change has made the trade barriers lower since the end of World War II (Hill, 2009: 13). The real existence of frequent technology exchange and technology transfer make a variety of countries inevitably involved into a trend that the whole world grows rapidly. Technology is becoming an invaluable treasure which is shared by the entire planet.
Global social problems become more evident because of the high speed of global development. What globalisation brings to the world is more than affluence, peace and happiness. The downsides could be information overflow, food crisis, scarcity of resources and energy, population explosion, environment pollution, ecological unbalance, continuous terrorism, epidemic diseases and other serious global social issues. These problems caused by global development could only be solved by international joint efforts and sincere cooperation between countries. A real happy world will be created after solving these problems (Wen, 1997: 3).
Influences of Globalisation
After having passed the isolated time, humans went into a polycentric time, and then evolved into a global time. It is the most significant achievement which is obtained by means of social development. Nevertheless, it is a certain tendency. The coming global time not only change the current fundamental conditions about existing and developing of the various countries, but also have deep effects on global economy, politics, cultures, and even people's social psychology, etc. These double influences would 'transform our world into the beginnings of a global civilization, a new civilization of civilizations that will blossom through the coming century' (Higgott and Reich, 1998: 12).
Firstly, as far as the global economy is concerned, on one hand the globalisation could enable the total resource to be utilized efficiently and allocated appropriately. Relevant division of labour can promote the cooperation and exchange of international economy, finance, and trade (Wang, 2003: 4). Globalisation also increases the global welfare, and develops human society. The competition of military affairs and ideology between states is giving the place to the aspects of economy, technology, etc. It is a competition of comprehensive national strength. On the other hand, globalisation will worsen economic friction among various countries. The predominant conflict of allocation, imbalance of global economy, and other economic security problems are becoming more considerable. However, predict the trend of international economy and analyze variation of states seem to be more difficult.
Secondly, globalisation should not just be treated as an economic phenomenon. It could be viewed 'as a powerful force that radically changes the political reality of the world in ways that are unprecedented' (Lee and Carter, 2009: 75). Globalisation brings different countries with different political systems into a collective security and economic cooperation circle. It increases the communication, dependency, and restrictions between states. Therefore, the sense of international responsibility, morality and justice of countries become stronger. 'The rich nations of the world can help by reducing barriers to the importation of products' (Hill, 2009: 32), providing interest-free loan, and supporting scientific and technological aid from the world's poorer nations.
Thirdly, on the progress of global culture, old traditional culture is suffering from the huge impacts and challenges. Different cultures from all corners of the world have been brought to people by the globalisation (Lee and Carter, 2009: 77). A brand new global culture is coming with the unstoppable growing of modern industrial civilization. Its outstanding features have 'made different countries, different regions, more creative, given people more diversity' (Cowen, 2003: 1). Undeniably, globalisation can cause antagonisms, contradictions and conflicts among different cultures and traditions on earth. The new global culture, compared with the strong and prevailing national cultures, is still small and weak. The cultural frictions and notional conflicts are inevitable; especially considering the globalisation of information could create more negative influences on the global culture.
Finally, 'globalisation is likely to be one of the dominant forces in the psychological development of the people of the 21st century' (Jeffrey Arnett, 2002: 8). It not only turns every single person into a member of global society, makes he or she have legal consciousness and rational spirit, but also extremely enlarges 'people's space-time concepts and social historical horizons' (Wang, 2003: 6). People become villagers who live in the same global village, refer to vital interests between each other. But the viability of information, indirection of interpersonal relationships will make people experience the fugitiveness of new things. Their social historical horizons will become unfamiliar, even disappear. At the same time, the standardization and normalization of globalisation might affect people's unique individuality, glamour and even style of writing, which become insignificant and uniform. As a consequence, the abundant social mental structures of people are simplified hugely. Apparently, the psychology of globalisation is a challenging, complex, and important area (Arnett, 2002: 9) for people to deal with.
Globalisation is a complex appearance, and it has many facets that affect our lives in all directions. Though there are no exact meanings to represent the term, it is 'possible to understand it by examining some of the discourses (e.g. political, economic, technological, and cultural) which have been grouped under the term' (Lee and Carter, 2009: 97). The taxonomy is given above links to how to identify these facets and the domains in which each operates (Higgott and Reich, 1998: 41). As we can see the process of globalisation creates dual influences on global society. We disclose the negative effects of globalisation for promoting its process more smoothly, without hindrance, but not to deny and obstruct its process. Every country on the planet should make shared efforts to avoid the process of globalisation bringing damage to global politics, economy, culture, and social psychology, etc.
USPS Meets the Challenge of Globalisation
As an independent agency of America, the United States Postal Service (U.S. Postal Service) takes the most widespread responsibility of post, and it is a part of every American's life. The agency is also the biggest employer in the United States, with 797,000 career employees and 107,000 non-career employees (USPS annual report, 2003: 60) by the end of 1999. As the largest postal enterprise of the world, USPS delivered 'more than 200 billion pieces of mail each year, to 134 million delivery addresses, including 20 million post office boxes' (Meyer, 2001). It gained $62.5 billion, ranked 25th of Forbes 500 companies in 1999 (USPS annual report, 2003: 56). Even though the USPS makes great achievements, there are some bad comments linked to it. Some critics believe that the USPS is too old to develop further, and it will never get rid of the straightjacket put on by the U.S. government. It is true that USPS is a bit conservative. As a postal department with experience in multinational operation for over 100 years, USPS has always focused on domestic business, in the past. Its international business is in the state of natural development (HUANG-Guozhong, 1999: 1). But what the essay tries to explore here is that USPS is working hard to adapt quickly to new international development and evolvement. The USPS has treated the challenge of globalisation as a great opportunity to make benefits for itself.First challenge
Economic globalisation and market liberalization have influenced the traditional monopolistic administration and service industry. As one of them, the post industry is no exception. 'The provision of postal services is an area of activity which it is easy for firms to enter: there are not high costs which have to be incurred before any business at all can be carried on' (Albon, 1991: 6). The first sign of competition did not focus on the exclusive business run by postal enterprise, but with the reform and development of the American postal system, exclusive business competition is inevitable. In the 1970s, USPS still dealt with international post as passively as before. It did not analyze the reason of low volume of business, neither did it think of going abroad to exploit international postal markets. By the end of the 1980s, the American postal market had become more crowded than ever. The competition of market shares grew fiercer and fiercer, domestic market was becoming saturated. Therefore, the market shares of USPS decreased every year. The officials of USPS sadly admitted that their former officials lost a large number of package delivery businesses. During the 1980s, UPS, FedEx, DHL and other private express companies had actively pursued the sector of package business, and snatched the vast majority of the package business market. Under the huge pressure caused by intense competition, in addition to private corporations which aim for larger market shares, the USPS started to commit itself to enlarge domestic package market as well as exploit oversea markets. When organizations have responded to turbulent external environmental conditions, they always attempt to become more flexible in operating (Brooks, Weatherston and Wilkinson, 2004: 370). It is as expected that USPS opted the operational mode which was similar to the large private express company. The USPS adopted flexible ways to handle their capital and increase their assets, such as signing agreements, project operation and marketing organization. Due to 60% business opportunities in mainland and 40% of them overseas, USPS built partnership with domestic strong logistic corporations such as Federal Express to obtain more market shares. At the same time, it established actively cooperative relationships with foreign postal administrations.
The reasons to why USPS needs to expand further in international business are multi-faceted. First of all, on one hand, the most important conditions are the continuous development of economic globalisation, increasing quantity of international business demand, and growing high quality of customer expectation. On the other hand, large American multinational corporations need USPS to expand international business to meet their transnational operation features. Postal multinational operations are capable of satisfying clients who demand international service. But the international marketing planning is never easy to make, the USPS could learn more only through getting deeper into international marketing activity (Lee and Carter, 2009: 524). USPS improves its strategic positioning of global business in order to supply more considerate and comprehensive mail service which fit the extensive and variable universal market. For the purpose of adapting to global economic development, USPS also set its new developing direction and goal.
Secondly, national governments lower their political barriers, lessen postal regulations, and introduce competition systems to stimulate technological progress of postal departments. 'The changing international scene, with its powerful interest, has an enormous impact on the operating activities of many organizations' (Brooks, Weatherston and Wilkinson, 2004: 285). Early in the 1970s, USPS started to operate as an enterprise, and then it became an independent entity to participate in market competition. The range of postal monopolization was reduced day by day until it disappeared. Private postal companies started to be permitted to enter the postal market under some certain conditions in the 1980s. It was a great opportunity for USPS to set up subsidiaries in certain countries of destination. The subsidiaries could help USPS to gain extra money. Foreign clients chose USPS because of their reliability, for instance by sending managers directly to them.
Thirdly, after the year of 1980, the global scientific and technological level promoted fast. Naturally, E-business is growing exponentially. 'People increasingly prefer instant communication via internet and wireless channels' (Marks, 2001). A variety of digital products (e.g. e-advertisement, e-mail, and e-bill) different from traditional ones brought greater impact to the postal service. The bills sent by mail accounted for approximately 49% of all the first-class mail, the income was one quarter of USPS's total revenue (USPS annual report, 2001: 58). If all this service turned into e-bill suddenly, USPS would sink into serious financial crisis. Nevertheless, it is just an extreme figure of speech. Actually, the electronic transformation needs a process which gives USPS time to adapt. The USPS invest billions of dollars in new or improved mail processing equipment (e.g. automatically handle and sort individual letters, bar code sorters, and optical character reader systems) in order to increase work efficiency and lower costs (Meyer, 2001). Consequently, the USPS caught a potential opportunity about online shopping. The rapid growth of online shopping made more and more people use home delivery. As a result, USPS made a great effort to become a logistic distributor of e-commerce. It tried its best to make up the financial loss caused by first-class mail and advertising post turning into electronic business. The explosion development of electronic businesses gives USPS a great chance to recapture the majority of package market shares. It is because low costs of home delivery service and a widespread delivery network are USPS's unique advantages.
Fourthly, in recent years, the fast growing economy in developing countries leads to larger demand for postal markets. But their domestic foundations of postal service are weak, and also they are short of funds, technology, and management skills. These developing countries are highly in need of cooperating with foreign countries. It is a remarkable opportunity for USPS to expand internationally. USPS put more attention on the international business which 'boost the company's profitability and increase the rate of profit growth over time' (Hill, 2009: 420). It obtained more market share, built new business growth pole, maintained sustainable development through entering into other countries' postal market.
Finally, the full process and full network features of post make USPS enable to operate in united network. USPS built its own international network for the aim to avoid influences caused by low quality service operation of some destination countries. It means that the network of USPS is more efficient and better able to supply high quality service than those countries working together with bi-lateral agreements. USPS became a multinational postal enterprise thanks to these comprehensive elements given above.
The inevitable postal transnational operations have a huge influence on the traditional postal area. Postal administrations of every country supported each other, built good relationships long time ago, and the 'exclusive postal domain' was acknowledged universally. However, with the advent of postal international operations and competitions, represented by USPS, the conception of 'exclusive postal domain' has collapsed. The international business run by USPS and other big private postal operations might threat the improvement of the postal market in developing countries. At the same time, unrestricted multinational operations are likely to cause duplicate construction and investment which are unnecessary waste to USPS.
All in all then, the tendency of globalisation has influenced USPS deeply. With the disintegrated notion of 'one country with one postal service', the postal party started to understand that 'the structure of costs in the industry makes it naturally competitive, not naturally monopolistic' (Albon, 1991: 6). USPS moved quickly to turn from a state department into an independent agency which uses the private enterprise ways to run business. How to deal with international postal policies and improve the domestic business is a huge task to USPS. We believe that the postal service which is an old age industry will not vanish during the process of globalisation. People still insist on the use of mailboxes in which they can receive the governmental attention, friend's care, merchandise information, and family wishes. The Postal service will still be the gate of society, success and happiness.
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