The appeal and benefits of pursuing a global economy lie in the theory of comparative advantage whereby global completion will ensure that goods and resources will be allocated in the most efficient way, ensuring the most cost effective production of goods and services to the benefit of all. Yet the more we open ourselves up to globalization the greater becomes the discrepancy in wealth distribution which contradicts the theory. Oh to be sure there is a growing middle class in the highly populated eastern countries like India and China but in effect we are just averaging out the wealth of the poor – improving in the eastern world and declining in the west while those at the top accumulate huge fortunes. Upward mobility on any kind of scale may be in jeopardy.
Life should be getting better for all of us. Instead large corporations are controlling the marketing of most products largely through effective branding which allows them to keep the lion’s share of the benefits of low cost production in the form of huge profits rather than either paying a fair price or passing along the benefits to the end user. At the same time the demand for labour is shrinking in relative terms through technology and mechanization undermining wage structures around the world. These large corporations have abandoned their identity as national firms in favour of becoming global entities. They are routed in a culture of control and increasingly rely on acquisitions and outsourcing to give them the innovation and flexibility needed in a fast paced world economy immersed in rapid change. As long as they can control the market they retain control of the profits.
So how do we break this system and allow the mass sharing of the efficiencies being gained? The hope lies in entrepreneurs digging in the corners, finding comparative advantages and getting low cost products to market. The problem is that there are barriers to get products to market and if you manage to break through your company soon joins the club bringing in huge profits. Rather than breaking the system, those that succeed are embracing it. Greed is a powerful motivation in the face of dynamic achievement. So as it stands now entrepreneurial success lies in pursuing startups and selling out or by leapfrogging through this stage and becoming one of the Bigs. Neither of these trends will break the current trend on wealth distribution which is moving back towards the historical norm.
On a macro level entrepreneurs are the main hope to break the culture of control but there are no guarantees that will happen. On an individual level, pursuing a career as an entrepreneur may be the only ticket to upward mobility. That is why the most important skill anyone can master today is the ability to create and manage their own career. We must all adopt the mindset of the entrepreneur.