Understanding glocalisation

It’s often debated whether globalisation destroys indigenous cultures. We hear outcries about worldwide McDonaldization. But we have not yet understood a phenomenon called glocalisation, where people have global and local perspectives at the same time. Glocalised folks zoom in and out. They have tremendous global awareness and insightful local knowledge.

The first thing that comes to mind is HSBC, the bank which calls itself “The world’s local bank”. They also say, never underestimate the importance of local knowledge. They show their awareness of local sports in several countries by sponsoring English Rugby League side Telford Raiders, American Ice Hockey club Buffalo Sabres and Mexico’s Pachua Football Club. They sponsor the Great Canadian Geography Challenge and the Celebration of Light, an annual musical fireworks competition in Vancouver.

The next thing that comes to mind is the Friends of the Earth International (FOEI), an international network of environmental organizations in 70 countries. FOEI founder David Brower coined the slogan, “Think globally, act locally”.

The slogan “Think globally, act locally” in Sofia, Bulgaria

FOEI campaigns against the creation of genetically modified organisms,  industries that exacerbate global warming, and conversion of forests to agricultural areas. To do so, they need to act with insightful local knowledge, and marry it with a global perspective. In their own words, “Our international positions are informed and strengthened by our work with communities, and our alliances with indigenous peoples, farmers’ movements, trade unions, human rights groups and others”. Looks like they walk the talk when it comes to thinking globally and acting locally!

There’s a pertinent need for management consultants to understand and interpret localised phenomena. For instance, management consultants advising corporations on microfinance need a detailed understanding of institutions like Banco Caja Social Colombia (BCSC), a leading microfinance institution in Latin America. Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank has become another favourite microfinance case study.

grameen bank meeting
Inquisitive visitors at a Grameen Bank meeting in Bangladesh

The entertainment industry is another arena where glocalisation is the name of the game. Analysts of Indian cinema have recently observed a glocal phenomenon among the Indian diaspora, particularly those in the USA. They all want to watch movies in their mother tongues. According to this article, India’s Reliance Entertainment has started making films in several Indian languages to reach out to this diaspora.

President of Reliance Entertainment, Rajesh Sawhney, says, “We have observed that as people start earning more, entertainment actually goes local, rather than turning towards the global English language…..Indians staying in overseas markets want their children to learn their native language and cinema is the best way”. The word glocalisation could succintly describe what he’s talking about.

If glocalisation is correctly understood and promoted, there is no need to fear that globalisation will destroy local cultures. The global village is actually glocal.

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One thought on “Understanding glocalisation

  1. Hi

    I am a MFA design management student and this write up is a very interesting take on glocalization. I am just starting my thesis and my topic is concerns with unpacking local to reframe local experiences for building design frameworks. I will be exploring the meanings of local in various contexts and how glocal as a term can be interpreted in design thinking. I can totally relate to understanding the localized phenomena and using those insights for design strategists to design for a “we culture” instead of an “I culture”.

    In short, your write-up gave me a fresh perspective to scout for more under the glocal layers. I look forward to hearing your views on this.

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