When did Globalization Begin? – A Review





When did Globalization Begin? – A Review

When did Globalization Begin is an article written by O’Rourke, Kevin and Jeffrey G.Williamson in 2002, and published in the journal of European Review of Economic History. The article seeks to unravel the exact period when the process of globalization began. However, the authors are keen to use only one factor in guiding them to the approximate period when globalization began. They therefore, use the international trade, as their defining factor, leaving aside other dimensions. The authors in their findings argue that globalization must have begun in the period after the beginning of the 19th Century. Basing on the factor of international trade, they use the political struggles over trade policies as an evidence of globalization factor, since globalization that affects income distribution in a country.

In writing this article, the authors have made use of different types of sources by different other authors. These sources are mainly those that address the process of globalization, either directly or indirectly. In addition, these sources contain relevant information on trade, as practised in the past. Since the authors were addressing a historical issue, most of the sources they used are old and mainly address historical trade and trade patterns in different world parts. Inn coming up with their facts and conclusions, the authors have primarily relied on literature review. What they do is therefore, to echo the different sentiments of a variety of other past authors, and applying them to their argument. They have used both qualitative and quantitative data in to develop and support their argument.

The primary concern in this article is establishing when exactly globalization began. This is a rather interesting concern because it is hard to find the exact year when globalization started. This is because of the nature of globalization, which unfolds in different facets. However, the authors trace the beginning of globalization using the historical trade. According to them, trade just like globalization, bases on interactions at a higher level. Therefore, it was probable that people in the past ensured that interactions were high to boost trade. They must have come up with strategies of achieving this. An example of this is the transport and communication factor in trading. This was improved each year so that it can connect as many countries as possible to boost trade activities. Therefore, the authors conclude that transport and communication factor was instrumental in bringing countries together and linking them up easily, which is the core aspect of globalization, which according to them, began in the early 19th Century.

The authors are biased by relying on one aspect to trace the beginning of globalization. They have solely addressed international trade and disregarded other factors such as international factor mobility. If they had based on other factors too, their findings would have been different. This is because globalization process is not only limited to economic activities between different countries, but also manifests itself in social and political relations between various countries. Nonetheless, the article is still informative in its own way, especially for those interested in adopting one approach to globalization, as the authors have done. However, more research is needed in this area, using other factors apart from international trade to discover the period in which globalization might have begun. This article should therefore, draw other researchers back to the drawing board, to come up with conclusive research findings about the possible era when globalization began.

Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders – A Review

            Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders is an article written by Greif Avner, and published in the journal of Economic History in the year 1989. The author has relied solely on the geniza documents to draw his inferences. These are ancient documents retrieved in the 19th Century in Egypt’s Fustat town (old Cairo). The geniza documents are highly reliable and valid, considering that they are first-hand documents. By using information from these documents to base on his facts and draw inferences, the author ensures that the article exhibits high reliability and facts.

The article’s main purpose is to examine the economic activities of the 11th Century, which resulted in complex trade with asymmetric information and a lack of sufficient and effective enforcement of legal contracts during this period. The author then identifies the “coalition” as one of the most important economic activities of the past Mediterranean traders. This was an economic institution, which was influential in solving the organizational problems emerging in the trade activities between the Mediterranean traders and their overseas trade partners. From the article, one also learns much about the Maghribi traders, as these are also the reference point of the author. In addition, the interaction between the social and economic institution is manifest, as well as reasons why the Mediterranean traders used specific types of business strategies, and not the others.

The big question in this article is how the Mediterranean and Maghribi traders dealt with the contractual problems in their trade, considering that neither the traders themselves nor their judges had sufficient information about the overseas agents to track them down in case of breach of contract. This is interesting because these traders worked with the overseas agents, who were strangers, and yet managed to strike trade contracts with them, and successfully run their businesses, even considering the poor transport and communication technology during this period. The author has utilized the “geniza” documents to draw his facts upon which he bases his arguments. The geniza documents are an information source about agency relations among the Maghribi and Mediterranean traders during this period, including how their trade was conducted.

The author reaches a conclusion that the trade relations among the Maghribi traders were based on mutual trust. Consequently, the Mediterranean traders were able to interact and trade with the strange overseas agents basing on the prime factor of trust. However, the main economic institution utilized by the Maghribi traders as revealed by the geniza documents, mainly was the coalitions. In addition, further evidence from the geniza documents showed that the Mediterranean traders might also have adopted a similar economic institution. This major strategy helped these traders overcome the contractual problems they experienced in their relations with the overseas agents during their trade activities. The coalition utilised the reputation strategy to ensure trust of the trade parties.

This article is quite informative, as far as the Maghribi and Mediterranean traders are concerned. Although the author has made use of one major primary source, the information is still detailed and informative. One learns important history of the ancient trade among the Maghribi and Mediterranean traders. From this information, one may be in a position to study how the economic institutions have ever since evolved, following their trends up to the contemporary world. The author should have however, used other influential sources to complement the geniza documents. Nonetheless, the article remains useful even with the one primary source. As the author suggests, it is imperative that further analysis of other non-market factors be conducted in order to draw a clear path of the evolutionary process of the economic institutions throughout the different eras up to date. This will lead to a clearer understanding of how the past economic institutions and how they have shaped the present economic institutions.

Works Cited

Greif, Avner. “Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi

Traders.” The Journal of Economic History, 49: 4 (857-882): Cambridge University

Press, Dec. 1989.

O’Rourke, Kevin and Jeffrey. G.Williamson. “When did globalization begin?” European Review 

of Economic History, 6 (25-50): Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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