Skip navigation

Globalization from a Business Leader's Point of View

Multinational Corporations
Frits van Paasschen

Protests at the 1999 WTO Ministerial Conference brought public attention to the controversy of globalization. The so-called Battle in Seattle began peacefully but ended with tear gas, hundreds of arrests, and a state of emergency imposed by the mayor. The unruly crowd that came to embody the anti-globalization movement contrasts with the face of the pro-globalization movement, which can be found each January among the staid and well-heeled attendees of the World Economic Forum. Globalization, as it weaves together economic, social, and cultural issues across borders, has brought profound changes in the past few decades. Strong reactions both for and against globalization point to the reality that it has produced both benefits and problems, winners and losers. This article examines the rise of globalization and explores its benefits and drawbacks, as seen from the perspective of multinational corporations. It then proposes a new approach to ensuring that corporations help society make the most of global- ization’s benefits while limiting its drawbacks. The article reflects the author’s own observations as a former Fortune 500 CEO with more than three decades’ experience working at firms such as McKinsey & Company, the worldwide management consulting firm; Nike, Inc., the global sports company; and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which manages properties in over 100 countries.