Achieving World Peace through International Trade: Can E-Collaboration Technologies Help Make this Happen?

Achieving World Peace through International Trade: Can E-Collaboration Technologies Help Make this Happen?

Ned Kock (Texas A&M International University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-676-6.ch001
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Abstract

Can e-collaboration technologies help achieve world peace by supporting international trade? At first glance, this seems like an unusual and somewhat nonsensical question. The variables involved, particularly international trade and world peace, may appear to be too broad and socially complex to be meaningfully influenced by e-collaboration technologies. Also, the connection between these variables, if it exists, seems at best counterintuitive. Yet, there is empirical evidence that humans might have evolved what could be called a trading instinct, with the fitness-enhancing goal of either reducing or eliminating the likelihood of violent conflict between trading groups. This would explain why so many people seem compelled to engage in trade interactions, even when they do not need the goods or services that are being traded. This chapter argues that such trading instinct might have evolved, and if it did, that the evolution of the trading instinct happened in the context of face-to-face interactions. Therefore, the same instinct in modern humans would require e-collaboration media of high naturalness (i.e., high face-to-face similarity) to properly play its conflict reduction role. In this sense, e-collaboration media naturalness may act as a moderator of the effect that trade may have on the trading parties’ predispositions to later engage in or support violent conflict, either with each other or with members of the trading parties’ national groups.
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The Utilitarian View Of International Trade

International trade is more often than not viewed from a utilitarian perspective. One group of individuals, who make up a nation, owns a good or service that is either needed or desired by some other group of individuals in a different nation. The result is trade between the two national groups in one of its many forms, including: the exchange of goods or services for other goods or services, known as bartering; and the more typical exchange of goods or services for cash or a promise of future cash payment, which is the most typical instance of trade.

The utilitarian view of international trade essentially is that trade is necessary so that individuals or groups can acquire goods and services that they are not capable of efficiently producing themselves. This view is indeed consistent with the historic view of trade among nations, and the tremendous growth in international trade that occurred since the 19th century. Arguably that growth has been largely motivated by the notion that certain nations are more efficient producers of specific goods than others. When a nation is a more efficient producer of a certain class of goods (e.g., a type of metal used in manufacturing) than another nation, then trade of that class of goods benefits both nations.

Several theoretical models of international trade have been proposed that are closely related to the utilitarian view. One of these theoretical models is the Ricardian model of international trade, named after the English stockbroker and economist David Ricardo (see Figure 1). Ricardo is seen by many as the creator of the first conceptual frameworks for the systematic study of economics. Along with notable classical economics scholars such as Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus, he was one of the most influential thinkers during the phase that was marked by a major shift in the understanding of economics. The shift was from the ruler’s (e.g., the king’s) interests to class-based interests. This new way of thinking about economics saw the wealth of a country as more strongly tied to the sum of all individual incomes in the country, and less so to the king’s personal wealth.

Figure 1.

David Ricardo

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