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Perhaps no other phenomenon has affected the daily lives of people all over the world as Globalization. While politicians and world leaders harped on the positive and negative outcomes of the process, the actual citizens in various countries had to undergo many changes in order to incorporate the inevitable changes into their lives. Globalization has affected the way that we work, communicate, and even think and it has added a new perspective to our thought process. We dare to think much beyond our means today, which would have never been possible a few years before. This sudden change in man’s perception and ideology is because man has adapted himself to the changes to face the effects of Globalization head-on. Many of us have accepted the challenges of globalization and have changed our lifestyles to suit the challenges and escape unscathed from the consequences. There are also others who have been badly affected by the effects of Globalization and have sustained losses.
The psychological aspects of Globalization are plenty, and often people have a difficult time coping with the changes that are thrust upon them. For example, employees who used to work within the protected environments that were afforded to them by their employers would soon feel the heat and difficulties of coping up with the international competition. Similarly, work environments underwent a significant change and work culture became more aligned to the western world. The most dramatic changes due to Globalization could have been in developing countries that were suddenly exposed to the effects of Globalization. There was a sudden change in work culture in countries such as India and China, which were relatively new to the Globalization scene. Similarly, Globalization had its effects on the home front as well as on all aspects that could be conceived of in a person’s life.
Aspects of Globalization that affect a person’s job
Perhaps the effects of Globalization have most significantly been felt on the job front. There are advantages as well as disadvantages on the job front because of Globalization. For example, companies that had to face severe competition improved their products and services and started to have an increased focus on the customer. Even companies, which have had huge profit margins in the past, are beginning to feel the heat of the competition and are trying more and more innovative methods to boost their businesses. Moreover, globalization has thrown open the protected markets of many countries to international brands that often threaten to consume the less powerful companies present in the local market. The immediate result of this is that all the activities of a company began to depend on better financial outlays and better training methodologies that would keep the employee informed about the market situation [Roberts, 2004]. This has obviously put pressure on the individual who has to cope with the situation. Employees who were sure of job security are today concerned about losing their jobs because of competition. People are ready to do anything to anything to keep their jobs and are willing to sacrifice even their personal time to keep a job that pays them to meet the increased expenses of the modern world. This adds to the stress that zaps individuals of their finer capacities [Mcmahon, 1998]. Some companies, in order to circumvent the stiff competition they face, are prescribing heavy targets for each employee to achieve, which, in turn, causes severe stress on the employees.
Globalization and job security
Globalization has caused a critical change in the management styles of various companies. For example, companies are opting for a decentralized management style compared to the centralized style a few years before. The change in power hierarchies that happen because of such a radical change is often very confusing for people who have been used to the familiar bureaucratic styles of operations. The concept of empowerment is becoming important and operating units are empowered to take decisions and implement the same. Similarly, decision-making authority is filtered down with appropriate accountability. “Computerization and automation has ensured that decisions are made on the fly and that employees have to be quick witted to take decisions and implement them in the shortest possible time.” [Frame, Davidson 2002]. This has placed tremendous pressure on the individual, both old and young. Cases of brownouts and of people becoming insensitive to their emotional needs are rising. The world today has more psychological wrecks than it had a few years before because of the pressures at the workplace.
Globalization also hurts employees who are working in the developed world. The most recent and perhaps the most vociferous opposition against the effects of Globalization came when the issue of outsourcing became politically important. Suddenly, the perpetrators of Globalization saw their own jobs being lost to their cousins in the developing nations. The loss of money and job security was devastating to the west and it was as if tasting their own medicine on the job front [Strassmann, 1995]. Today employees are conscious of the fact that they can lose a job as soon as they get it. On the other hand, employees are also ready to ditch their company for the sake of money and better facilities offered by other companies. Sincerity and dedication have been replaced with consumerism and a give and takes policy in which each person bargains for his or her worth. This has a telling effect on companies because companies can no longer be sure of the undivided faith and sincerity of their employees. Employee attrition has become a major source of stress for people working in senior managerial positions as it involves hefty overheads for companies in terms of the cost of recruitment and training. While on one hand, some employees fear being sacked for incompetence in a highly competitive working environment, on the other hand, companies are also cautious about their employees and have found ways to keep the best by offering better perks and facilities. The situation results in considerable stress to both managers as well as other employees.
Globalization and changing perspectives of the world
Globalization involves an increased openness in international business relations, and integration of markets on a worldwide basis, and a movement toward a borderless world. The sources of globalization are varied and include the technological advances, liberalization of trade policies brought into force over the past decades. Never before has Globalization caused significant awe on technology. Technology has perpetuated into every aspect of our lives and we cannot imagine a world that is bereft of technology. Technological advances have significantly lowered the costs of transportation and communication and dramatically lowered the costs of data processing and information storage and retrieval. Modern services such as electronic mail, the Internet, and the World Wide Web are some of the manifestations of this new technology. These in turn have helped us to expand our vision of the world and we have been able to connect with people from other cultures and backgrounds.
The electronic world has thrown many surprises that we have accepted and made part of our lives. For example, email and the World Wide Web have changed the way we talk, interact and even perform our official duties. Today we expect communication to be fast and prefer replies to our queries in the shortest possible time. Psychologically we are all becoming slaves of time and visibly get stressed when we do not get results within the time that we expect them to come. In short fast services have made us unrealistically expect results and the net outcome is that we have become overstress and confused. Today, most major companies run on machines and a temporary loss of power can cause losses to the tune of millions because the speed of operations cannot be replicated by humans. Human enterprises have, through Globalization, become the slaves of technology. It is the same with the human mind. Most of the communication that happens today is faceless and between people who have not ever met each other. The traditional concepts of affability have long since disappeared, we are replacing the pleasing manners that we once possessed with artificial emotions and gestures. In short, communication has become less personal and more technological.
Globalization and diversity
Globalization has encouraged diversity at the workplace and today people work with a lot of others who may be radically different in their culture and upbringing. HR managers opine that diversity in the workplace has both advantages and disadvantages because, on the one hand, it can provide a lot of beneficial conditions for the employees while on the other, it may also cause a lot of problems. The positive effects are better interaction among people and an expansion of their vision towards life. On the other hand, diversity also causes a rift between people who may find it very difficult to cope with each other. This in turn makes an effect on the personal life of the individual and acts as a catalyst for fostering stress.
The modern workforce is no longer local in its composition because more and more people of different ethnic origins are included in the workforce. As companies grow, people from different backgrounds are in fact, forced to interact with each other. It is not uncommon to see people of different nationalities working in the same office. This also can cause trouble because there is all possibility that these people would drag their personal differences into the office atmosphere. Ethnic differences in the workplace can often cause people to form sub-groups within the larger team thus derailing the very rationale behind setting up teams in the office. Ethnic issues are widely influenced by the political and cultural environment of a country and so it is not always easy for HR managers to create a team that is devoid of race feelings [Trigaux, 2003]. Hence, it is debatable whether Globalization has expanded our vision or has constricted it.
Another issue that causes psychological problems is language barriers that exist between people who are constrained to interact with each other. The lack of communication that arises from such a situation can force people to interact to get the minimum communication across and in a way causes people to feel lonely in the office. Language issues can also zap the employee’s confidence and will affect the other duties at which they may be good. It can also create stereotypes that can affect the morale of people. For example in the United States, blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians become quite conspicuous by the way they talk. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that their language is a bit different from what others speak at the office. This is large because of their upbringing and exposure to their peculiar surroundings. Similarly, the slang with which they speak also can affect their interaction with other people in the office. Since communication is a two-way process, bad language can mean that the minorities who are not able to convey their ideas, also do not understand what others would be trying to speak to them. This can often cause them to be branded as inefficient and lacking man-management skills, which could be far away from the truth [Gancel and Hills, 1997, Sago, 2000].
However, diversity also can bring about teamwork and interaction that can in fact cure employees of psychological issues. Moses (2000) believes that there is nothing like a single class of employees who share the same vision. In fact, the diversity of employees has been increasing through the years and it is difficult to maintain employees based on a few good age-old practices that would have been practical so many years before. The trick that needs to be adopted in the modern workplace is to adopt a strategy that is flexible and effective. We can prepare for the future only by learning from our experiences and ensuring that we do not commit mistakes that we have already committed [White, 2001].
Globalization and culture
Globalization has caused cultures across the world to interact with each other and help each other in integrating with each other. The disadvantage, however, was that the overbearing effect of globalization often destroyed the local cultures. Many countries have already lost their ethnic roots and have youngsters who look like clones of the western world. The situation is common in almost all countries and even those countries that were considered to be culturally impregnable have been significantly affected by the effects of globalization. For example, the “fashion-gap” between countries like Paris and Asian countries is not very wide as was the case a few years before. Societies have changed, cultures have been affected and new social orders have been established because of globalization. Globalization has caused world cultures and societal structures to change. Similarly, globalization has caused an unprecedented level of cultural invasion and exchange. On a positive note, globalization has served its purpose of unifying the world by obliterating differences. But thinking about the costs at which this has been attained would help us to ponder on the losses [Elisabeth 2000].
Globalization has many positive and negative aspects. While we benefit from the positives, it would be wrong to assume that Globalization has only positive effects. There are also negative aspects of Globalization that we must understand and comprehend in order to withstand them and to derive the best results. Even though the changes that globalization has bought into our lives are many, there are also issues that have affected our lives in a very bad way.
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