TheColorado Daily
April 9, 2002

Panel Takes on Globalization
By Anthony Cerretani

The issue of global business is one that elicits both strong interest and emotion, and that was readily apparent at a Conference on World Affairs panel Monday that prompted an outraged response by one notable panelist.

Walter Bass, Geoff Cline, Daniel Odescalchi and Mildred Leet all registered their notions on the future of global business: how its been structured, where it’s been and where it is going.

Blass, a former US Navy officer, MBA professor at Fordham University and current owner of a management consulting company, got the ball rolling by breaking down the basic dynamics of what is involved in globalization.

The bottom line is that there are gainers and there are losers.

According to Blass, gainers are countries with cheap raw materials, cheap labor, low cost and high sale value, and those with adaptive technology and companies that are first in market scale.

The losers, Blass said, are those countries with high-cost-low-tech manual labor, easily copied technology and clerical or assembly work that can be replaced by machinery.

Globalization is driven by both technological and institutional change, Blass said. This includes the obvious advent and usage of the Internet, with its ability to transport finance at lightning speed, in addition to the principle of common currencies and the increase in labor mobility.
Blass concluded by posing the question: If globalization is no longer reversible, what steps can we take to see the losers not left behind?

Daniel Odescalchi, president of Strategic Advantage International and a world-wide consultant to the Alternative Council of Ministers in Bosnia-Herzegovina, cited technology as a catalyst for globalization, but also put forth the idea that globalization, in its pure form, is not a new concept.
Prior to 1750, he said, China had a dominance of global trade. What technology has done, Odescalchi said, is facilitate global business in hyper form. Capital flows undeterred and there are no restrictions upon transactions.

Ultimately, global business promises to do more than give a better value, according to Odescalchi, who said it is “leading to a better social good.”
But, he warns, “This won’t be instantaneous.”

As a result of crossing boundaries and organizing trade agreements, businesses open a dialogue between countries that otherwise wouldn’t communicate, said Odescalchi. In addition, governments of countries that are more shrouded in a sense of secrecy are opened up.
“Globalization is a way of wedging in the cracks,” Odescalchi said. This, he said, ultimately exposes countries’ policies on poverty and quality of life for its citizens.

Globalization is also a way of bring employment opportunities to people in areas that need assistance, he said. Specifically, Odescalchi cited the presence of Audi in Hungary and how the company’s presence propelling the economy.
Ultimately, said Odescalchi, “we need to give countries the opportunity to get up to our level and not punish them for it.”

Geoff Cline, an attorney and consultant whose client include Patagonia and the House of Blues, took a different stance in terms of where changes in the global economy have occurred and where the focus needs to be in development.

Cline prefers to “think about communities more than markets,” he said.

A cash economy shouldn’t be taken as a given, said Cline.

“We have to talk about humans and communities, not just markets and profit,” said Cline.

Mildred Leet concluded the presentation by touching on her own program, the Trickle Up Program,  which is devoted to  giving the lowest income people worldwide the opportunity to climb out of poverty by providing capital and business education.

In 1979 Leet used capital in the Trickle Up budget to help a group of women in the Dominican Republic start a business devoted to manufacturing banana chips. With a budget of fifty dollars, the initial investment translated to an ultimate distribution throughout the majority of the Caribbean.
“The strength of the world is in small economies,” she said, “in the people of the world.”

While the panel seemed to cover the spectrum of opinion on globalization for it potential for good and bad, some listeners were outraged.

“I’m horrified by what I’m hearing today,” said Dr. Patch Adams, noted physician, movie subject and critic of corporate medicine. “There is not a humanitarian organization worth its weight that thinks globalization is a good thing.”

Adams drew on his own experience as a physician in Afghanistan as an example of the tragedies associated with globalization and US influence abroad.

Odescalchi responded by saying globalization has alleviated a lot of poverty and in fact, the problems that counties deal with are a result of corrupt governments.

“Are you suggesting we’re not corrupt?” questioned Adams.