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Glocalization (a portmanteau of globalization and localization) is the adaptation of international products around the particularities of a local culture in which they are sold. The process allows integration of local markets into world markets.[1]

The term first appeared in a late 1980s publication of the Harvard Business Review.[2] At a 1997 conference on "Globalization and Indigenous Culture", sociologist Roland Robertson stated that glocalization "means the simultaneity – the co-presence – of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies."[3]

McDonald's restaurants' menus adopted the practice and customized its menus to suit local tastes in various countries. This phenomenon is the relative inverse of Americanization and the suppressing of local preferences in favor of providing goods and media whose content has been dictated by foreign entities. Glocalization can also involve the use of culturally friendly media to encourage the acceptance of foreign products among a local audience.[4]

Variety of uses[edit]

  • Individuals, households and organisations maintaining interpersonal social networks that combine extensive local and long-distance interactions.[5]
  • The declaration of a specified locality – a town, city, or state – as world territory, with responsibilities and rights on a world scale: a process that started in France in 1950 and originally called mundialization.


Glocalization is the adaptation of globally marketed products and services to local markets. Various analogical descriptions have been proposed, including an octopus and its tentacles,[6] a node in a network of social relations,[6] and world encirclement.

Local strategy approach vs. global strategy approach[edit]

The glocal strategy approach is different from the local strategy approach mainly due to the different outlooks on the standardization and local adaptations of products and business activities. Although the global strategy approach does recognize the need to localize products in the global community, local strategy stresses the importance of local adaptations in relation to the local marketplace. Also, while global strategy emphasizes standardization of global products, local strategy explains the balance that must exist between the standardization and local adaptation of business activities and products.[7]

History of the concept[edit]

The concept comes from the Japanese word dochakuka, which means global localization. It originally referred to the adaptation of farming techniques to local conditions. It became a buzzword when Japanese business adopted it in the 1980s.[8] The word stems from Manfred Lange,[9] head of the German National Global Change Secretariat,[10] who used "glocal" in reference to Heiner Benking's exhibit: Blackbox Nature: Rubik's Cube of Ecology at an international science and policy conference.[11][12]

The term entered use in the English-speaking world via Robertson in the 1990s, Canadian sociologists Keith Hampton and Barry Wellman in the late 1990s[13] and Zygmunt Bauman.[14] Erik Swyngedouw was another early adopter.[15]

In business[edit]


Glocalization works best for companies which have decentralized authority.[16] The cost to the companies increases as they cannot standardise products and projects, different cultures have different needs and wants which is highlighted in this challenge. An example of a company succeeding in creating new products for their emerging market is McDonald's new rice meals in India and China [17] This shows that McDonald's has done research on and understands their new market's requirements for a successful takeaway food. This however can be very costly and time-consuming.[17]

Starbucks in Forbidden City, China

An example of a global business that has faced challenges due to localization of their products can be presented through the closing of a Starbucks in the Forbidden City of China in 2007. Starbuck's attempt to localize into the culture of China by accommodating their menu to local elements such as serving "green tea frappuccinos" and enlarging their stores was prevalent in most areas of China, but when Starbucks spread to the Forbidden City, a problem surrounding cultural identity arose. Factors surrounding "western influences" related to Starbucks were seen as a threat by a web-based campaign who was successful in initiating the closing of the Starbucks in the Forbidden City. The leader of this web-based campaign, whose name is Rui, in his words had stated "All I want is that Starbucks move out of the Forbidden City peacefully and quietly, and we'll continue enjoying Starbucks coffee elsewhere in the city." [18]

Although there are many challenges to globalisation when done right it has many benefits, allowing companies to reach a larger target market is just one of them. Society also benefits when globalisation occurs as an increase in market competition generally pushes the price of products down which means the consumers benefit by gaining a lower price point.[19] This decreases the inequality gap as people who couldn't previously afford products when the market was controlled by local monopolies are able to purchase the product for cheaper.

Although globalisation has benefits to the consumer it does not always benefit the producer with newer and smaller companies struggling to keep up with the low production costs of the multi-national competitors. This results in either a higher price and loss of consumers or a lower profit margin which in turn results in less competition within the market.[20]

In education[edit]

Glocalization of education has been proposed in the specific areas of politics, economics, culture, teaching, information, organization, morality, spirituality, religion and "temporal" literacy.[clarification needed] The recommended approach is for local educators to consult global resources for materials and techniques and then adapt them for local use. For example, in information, it involves advancing computer and media understanding to allow students and educators to look beyond their local context.[20]

In the media[edit]

Thomas Friedman in The World Is Flat talks about how the Internet encourages glocalization, such as encouraging people to make websites in their native languages.


Besides the usage of Internet, television and commercials have become useful strategies that global companies have used to help localize their products. Companies, such as McDonald's, have relied on television and commercials in not only the Western Hemisphere but in other parts of the world to attract a varying ranges of audiences in accordance to the demographic of the local area. For example, they have used mascots ranging anywhere from a male clown in the Western Hemisphere to attract younger audiences to an "attractive" female clown in Japan to attract older audiences.[21]

However, McDonald's has faced challenges in adapting to the local customs when promoting its products through television in countries such as China. Programs and commercials air differently in China in comparison to Western commercials. In other words, commercials are usually skipped over in countries such as China, so McDonald's advertises its products through newspapers and magazines.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hong, Phillip Young P.; Song, In Han (2010). "Glocalization of social work practice: Global and local responses to globalization". International Social Work. 53 (5): 656–670. doi:10.1177/0020872810371206. 
  2. ^ Sharma, Chanchal Kumar (2009). "Emerging Dimensions of Decentralisation Debate in the Age of Globalisation". Indian Journal of Federal Studies. 19 (1): 47–65. SSRN 1369943Freely accessible. 
  3. ^ "What is glocalization? - Definition from". Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  4. ^ Buffery, Vicky (2010). "Asterix McDonalds' binge sparks Gallic outcry". Reuters. 
  5. ^ Barry Wellman, "Little Boxes, Glocalization, and Networked Individualism." Pp. 11-25 in Digital Cities II, edited by Makoto Tanabe, Peter van den Besselaar, and Toru Ishida. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2002.
  6. ^ a b Herod, Andrew. Scale: local and global" in Key Concepts in Geography. 
  7. ^ Svensson, Göran. ""Glocalization" of business activities: a "glocal strategy" approach". Management Decision. 39 (1): 6–18. doi:10.1108/eum0000000005403.
  8. ^ Habibul Haque Khondker, "Glocalization as Globalization: Evolution of a Sociological Concept," Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology. Vol. 1. No. 2. July, 2004 [1]
  9. ^ [2] Archived September 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Prof. Lange". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  11. ^ "On dialogue, knowledge, creativity, (cyber)culture, learning, wholeness". Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  12. ^ "Section: System Earth from the exhibition GLOBAL CHANGE: Challenges to Science and Politics - Welt im Wandel - Herausforderungen für Wissenschaft und Politik". 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  13. ^ Barry Wellman and Keith Hampton, "Living Networked On and Offline" Contemporary Sociology 28, 6 (Nov, 1999): 648-54
  14. ^ Hampton, Keith and B Wellman. 2002. "The Not So Global Village of Netville." Pp. 345-371 in The Internet in Everyday Life, edited by Barry Wellman and Caroline Haythornthwaite. Oxford: Blackwell.
  15. ^ Soja, Edward W. Postmetroplis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions. (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2000), 199-200.
  16. ^ Hofstede, Geert (1994-03-01). "The business of international business is culture". International Business Review. 3 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1016/0969-5931(94)90011-6. 
  17. ^ a b Shi, Xiuhua (2013-06-01). "The Glocalization of English A Chinese Case Study". Journal of Developing Societies. 29 (2): 89–122. doi:10.1177/0169796X13480442. ISSN 0169-796X. 
  18. ^ Han, Gang (Kevin); Zhang, Ai (2009-11-01). "Starbucks is forbidden in the Forbidden City: Blog, circuit of culture and informal public relations campaign in China". Public Relations Review. Includes a Special Section: Public Relations in a Time of Economic Crisis. 35 (4): 395–401. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2009.07.004.
  19. ^ Osland, Joyce S. (2003-06-01). "Broadening the Debate The Pros and Cons of Globalization". Journal of Management Inquiry. 12 (2): 137–154. doi:10.1177/1056492603012002005. ISSN 1056-4926. 
  20. ^ a b Brooks, Jeffrey; Normore, Anthony (2010). "Educational Leadership and Globalization: Literacy for a Glocal Perspective". Educational Policy. 24 (1): 52–82. doi:10.1177/0895904809354070. 
  21. ^ a b Crawford, A., Humphries, S. A., & Geddy, M. M. (2015). McDonald's: A Case Study in Glocalization. Journal of Global Business Issues, 9(1), 11-18.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sarroub, Loukia K (2008). "Living 'Glocally' With Literacy Success in the Midwest". Theory Into Practice. 47 (1): 59–67. doi:10.1080/00405840701764789. 
  • Sarroub, L. K. (2009). Glocalism in literacy and marriage in transnational lives. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies (Special Issue: Immigration, Language, and Education) 6(1-2), 63-80.
  • Hollensen, S. (2014). Global marketing, Pearson.

External links[edit]