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Global business has been going on for many decades and is one of the foundation blocks of modern civilisation (Keskinen 2017). It occurs when multiple countries conduct business. The long stretch of time which communities have been exposed to international business has informed the debate regarding its impact on people’s lives. Relative to this discussion, this paper suggests that international business has had both positive and negative effects on people’s lives, but the net effects are largely positive.
Global business has had many positive effects on people’s lives. Notably, it has helped communities gain access to goods and services they would otherwise not have had without it. For example, in the last two decades, people have increasingly relied on technology, such as Facebook, Instagram, eBay and Google to undertake different functions in their daily lives. For most people around the world, such technologies were not originally developed in their countries, despite their immense benefits in daily life. However, international business has made it possible to use them.
In addition, global trade has enabled people to gain access to quality products at a relatively cheap price because it increases competition, which expands the options for customers to gain access to quality products (Lee 2016). For instance, international trade encourages local manufacturers to increase their product or service qualities because failing to do so would mean a loss in business revenues. Evidence of this fact exists in the hospitality industry, which has witnessed an influx of multinational companies that are forcing local suppliers to improve their product and service standards as a precondition for doing business (ABUCUS 2016). Based on this trend, customers are enjoying improved quality standards.
International trade has also helped to increase employment opportunities in different countries. This advantage cuts across both developed and developing countries because both sets of nations have benefitted through increased employment opportunities by exchanging goods and services. For example, in the United States (US), global trade has created more than 11 million jobs (State Point 2016). The US Department of Commerce supports this assertion by saying future international agreements will create even more opportunities (State Point 2016). The creation of job opportunities from international trade has also been complemented by an increase in the net pay for existing jobs. Stated differently, employers are under increased pressure to match local pay with international standards.
The growing acceptance of international organisations, such as the International Labour Organization, on global business, has aided in expanding employment opportunities for member countries by easing labour relations among nations (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus 2017). Consequently, there has been increased collaboration in international trade, which has manifested through increased labour opportunities and a rise in the net pay for workers (especially minimum wage). Collectively, these factors have improved the livelihoods of millions of people around the world and enhanced their quality of life (Zheng 2017).
International business has also had a negative impact on the society in several ways. For example, it has caused environmental degradation and pollution to communities that live near factories or companies that have set up businesses near large human settlements. In a book explaining the implications of global business on human societies, Wynn-Williams (2016) alludes to this problem by citing the example of children who are affected by factories causing noise pollution around their schools. Some of these companies also release harmful chemicals into the air, thereby negatively affecting human health.
Perhaps the best example of environmental degradation by international business was reported in Nigeria, West Africa, where oil exploration from several multinational oil companies, such as Shell and Total, caused widespread environmental degradation in the Niger Delta Region (Ugboma 2015). The environmental degradation was partly caused by oil spills and pilferage, which affected thousands of square kilometres of wetlands, which lost their natural beauty and biodiversity (Ugboma 2015). This environmental disaster has caused devastation to families through the pollution of farmlands, fishponds and aquatic life, which were the sources of livelihood for thousands of people living in the Niger Delta (Ugboma 2015). This example shows that in countries where many people still depend on agriculture, as their main economic activity, international trade has caused widespread suffering to host communities (Ugboma 2015).
International trade has also had a negative impact on labour practices in selected countries where multinational companies are maximising profits at the expense of workers’ welfare. For example, Nestle, which is a giant multinational company in the food and beverage industry, has been accused of perpetrating child labour practices in its African operations (Ahmad 2018). Alongside another company known as Cargill, Nestle was sued in a US court for promoting abusive child labour practices in West Africa where it operates large cocoa plantations (Ahmad 2018). Some of the child labourers were underage children (below 14 years old) who were kidnapped from their homes and forced to work on the cocoa plantations without pay (Ahmad 2018). The use of child labour helped Nestle and Cargill to produce their goods cheaply and sell their cocoa products at a price that was significantly cheaper than its competitors (Ahmad 2018). Therefore, they were profiting from the suffering of children in West Africa. The companies were sued for being aware of the practice and failing to stop it, even though they had absolute control over the operations of the cocoa farms (Ahmad 2018). Such exploitative labour practices have a negative impact on the daily lives of affected children and families.
As highlighted in this paper, international business has both positive and negative impacts on people’s lives. Its positive impacts are evident through the expansion of employment opportunities, improvements in people’s quality of life and the accessibility of quality goods and services. Comparatively, the negative impact of international trade has manifested through environmental degradation, pollution and the exploitation of cheap labour. These findings mean that international business has both positive and negative effects on people’s lives. However, the positive effects outweigh the negative ones because an increased positive impact of international business can be realised through the mitigation of the negative effects. Muller (2018) supports this assertion, by saying that the benefits of global business outweigh its disadvantages at a high level of internationalisation.
For example, the legal redress offered to child labour victims who suffered from the effects of Nestlé’s exploitative cocoa production practices will discourage other multinational companies from abating such labour practices in overseas markets. Therefore, it is possible to address such challenges through litigation and increased accountability. The same is true for the negative environmental impacts of international businesses on host communities because increased vigilance on their activities could minimise their negative impact. Consequently, there is potential for international businesses to have more impacts that are positive on people’s lives by simply managing the negative effects of cross-border trade through increased accountability. Consequently, based on the findings highlighted in this study, international business has a largely positive impact on people’s daily life.
ABUCUS 2016, KFC opens business window for Kisumu poultry farmers, Web.
Ahmad, Y 2018, Nestle sued for perpetuating child slavery overseas from headquarters in US, Web.
Keskinen, J 2017, ‘Book review: dynamics of international business: comparative perspectives of firms, markets and entrepreneurship’, International Small Business Journal, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 139-141.
Lee, KH 2016, ‘The conceptualization of country attractiveness: a review of research’, International Review of Administrative Sciences, vol. 82, no. 4, pp. 807-826.
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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus 2017, International Labour Organization, Web.
Muller, A 2018, ‘When does corporate social performance pay for international firms?’, Business & Society, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 24-48.
State Point 2016, 5 ways international trade affects your household, Web.
Ugboma, PP 2015, ‘Environmental degradation in oil-producing areas of Niger Delta region, Nigeria: the need for sustainable development’, International Journal of Science and Technology, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 75-85.
Wynn-Williams, M 2016, Managing global business, Macmillan International Higher Education, London.
Zheng, C 2017, ‘Globalization and international human resource management’, Journal of General Management, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 44-46.