The Globalisation of Firms as a Social Evolutionary Process

The Globalisation of Firms as a Social Evolutionary Process

Thomas Borghoff (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/jabim.2011040102
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From a social systems theory perspective, globalisation can be conceptualised as an evolutionary social process. By fusing systems theories, evolutionary theories, and organisation theories, globalisation becomes apparent as a historical social process, which encompasses the emergence and reproduction of social systems such as firms or other organisations within the wider process of the globalisation of society. The conceptualisation of firms as social systems also opens new perspectives on methodological issues such as how to study their globalisation process.
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Globalisation As A Social Evolutionary Process

Observation of a phenomenon is only possible on the basis of distinctions. The observation of a ‘moving target’ - as in the case of globalising firms - presupposes a definition of the relevant background in order to identify any kind of process. Globalisation is a social evolutionary process in which social system formation extends to global scale. It is a historical process unfolding for thousands of years. While international trade already took place in ancient cultures, the formation of social systems with global interdependencies began with technological and organisational innovations in the 15th century. Globalisation in this context is the historical process in which the evolutionary principle of social differentiation and integration is principally not any more restricted to national or cultural boundaries but extended to global scale, ranging from locally dispersed to globally nested social systems. Especially the economic system has become independent of national or regional boundaries because of the technological and social developments in recent decades. The result is a process of increasing differentiation and integration on a now principally global basis. Within the global business context this dialectical process is particularly apparent in the duality of global integration vs. local responsiveness (Borghoff, 2005).

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