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The case study typically illuminates how globalisation and subsequent entry of Western multinationals into Southeast Asia and India have continued to trigger an identity crisis due to the introduction of Western cultural values and way of living into largely conservative and traditional communities. The entry of Western multinationals into Southeast Asia cultural landscape has provided the leverage needed for local companies to evolve and contribute immensely in enhancing the economic growth of many countries in this region and raising the living standards of local people. However, young people in Southeast Asia are now experiencing a clash of cultures, as they try to balance between the traditional value system and the new set of values emerging from manufacturing- and finance-based economies.
Today, more than ever before, both young and old people in Southeast Asia are increasingly consuming Western brands (e.g., Gucci handbags and Harley-Davidson motorcycles) as a symbol of family success, although polls have consistently shown that young people in Hong Kong are continuing to hold on to their traditional values (e.g., respect for family and group harmony) despite the growing consumer society. However, an explosion of outsourcing jobs in India has caused a social revolution among graduates of technical colleges and universities, as they move to big cities and learn new ideas about family, materialism and relationships arising from their direct engagement with the outsourcing companies.
In the “Tale of Two Cities”, it can be argued that globalisation and subsequent entry of Western multinationals into Southeast Asia have benefited the local communities by enhancing the economic growth, reinforcing the growth of local industries, and also raising the living standards of the local populations. Additionally multinational corporations have brought immense prospects for employment of young people in Southeast Asia and the subsequent independence that comes with formal employment. However, the weaknesses of the internalisation process can be felt in terms of how it has triggered an identity crisis, how it has caused many young people to move away from their traditional cultures and value systems, and how it has continued to reinforce negative Western lifestyles into local populations.
Opportunities for globalisation and subsequent entry of Western multinationals into Southeast Asia exist in terms of providing locals with a chance for personal and career advancement, facilitating knowledge and skills transfer, as well as providing the multinationals with an avenue to expand their operations and hence enhance their market share and competitiveness. However, threats exist in terms of stripping young workers of their cultural identities, facilitating consumerism as a way of life, and instilling a materialistic mindset into the local populations at the expense of traditional value systems.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Drawing from the above exposition, the advantages of globalisation and subsequent entry of Western multinationals into Southeast Asia include (1) providing local populations with employment opportunities, (2) facilitating economic growth, (3) raising the living standards of the local populations, and (4) guaranteeing opportunities for personal growth and career advancement. However, the main disadvantages include triggering an identity crisis, encouraging a consumerist and materialistic culture among the local populations, facilitating the erosion of the social fabric holding people and communities together due to the adoption of Western values and ways of doing things (e.g., encouraging female outsourcing employees to adopt Western accents and use American names), as well as encouraging potentially self-destructive behaviours such as alcohol consumption and partying.
From the case study, it is evident that globalisation and subsequent entry of multinational corporations into Southeast Asia have brought positive and negative ramifications. While these processes have not only triggered unparalleled economic growth in most Asian countries but also raised the living standards of local populations, they are nevertheless accused of triggering an identity crisis and diluting traditional values. For example, although young people in Hong Kong are still holding on to their traditional values despite the growing consumer society occasioned by the internalisation process, it is evident how young women in India have replaced their traditional values with new ideas about family, materialism, and relationships.
Consequently, it is recommended that multinational corporations and local companies operating in Southeast Asia should develop diversity programs instead of attempting to force workers to adopt Western values. Additionally, relevant government agencies should develop laws guarding against the erosion of the social fabric and traditional values. For example, there should be laws ensuring that local outsourcing companies do not force employees to change their names or adopt Western accent in the provision of services. It should also be the task of companies operating in these regions to come up with programs that gradually expose employees to Western cultural values with the view to avoiding a conflict of values. Presently, employees are left alone to adopt cultural values they deem fit in spite of the fact that they may not have adequate knowledge and information regarding the consequences of associating with particular values. Overall, harmonisation of the conflicting cultures and values is fundamental in assisting local populations to take advantage of the many benefits arising from internalisation while ensuring the preservation of positive traditional cultural values.