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The Limits of Convergence:
Globalization and Organizational Change in Argentina, South Korea, and Spain
Mauro F. Guillén

Paperback | 2003 | $46.00 | £38.95 | ISBN: 9780691116334
304 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 6 line illus.
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This book challenges the widely accepted notion that globalization encourages economic convergence--and, by extension, cultural homogenization--across national borders. A systematic comparison of organizational change in Argentina, South Korea, and Spain since 1950 finds that global competition forces countries to exploit their distinctive strengths, resulting in unique development trajectories.

Analyzing the social, political, and economic conditions underpinning the rise of various organizational forms, Guillén shows that business groups, small enterprises, and foreign multinationals play different economic roles depending on a country's path to development. Business groups thrive when there is foreign-trade and investment protectionism and are best suited to undertake large-scale, capital-intensive activities such as automobile assembly and construction. Their growth and diversification come at the expense of smaller firms and foreign multinationals. In contrast, small and medium enterprises are best fitted to compete in knowledge-intensive activities such as component manufacturing and branded consumer goods. They prosper in the absence of restrictions on export-oriented multinationals.

The book ends on an optimistic note by presenting evidence that it is possible--though not easy--for countries to break through the glass ceiling separating poor from rich. It concludes that globalization encourages economic diversity and that democracy is the form of government best suited to deal with globalization's contingencies. Against those who contend that the transition to markets must come before the transition to ballots, Guillén argues that democratization can and should precede economic modernization. This is applied economic sociology at its best--broad, topical, full of interesting political implications, and critical of the conventional wisdom.


"This book offers a sophisticated and lively analysis of three well-researched and important cases of distinctive political economies. It is a valuable contribution to the debate about the impact of globalization on national trajectories and the varieties of capitalism in the modern world."--Anthony W. Pereira, Political Science Quarterly

"A very ambitious study, striding across a number of disciplines. . . . This is a groundbreaking contribution to the study of business organization and economic development."--International Affairs

"This is an important book: theoretically nuanced, comparative in the best sense, and empirically rich."--Stephen Haggard, American Journal of Sociology

"The strength of this book is its comparative and historical approach to the study of organizational and institutional change. . . . [A]n informative work and a valuable contribution to the literatures on these countries and to debates about globalization generally."--Robert K. Schaeffer, Social Forces


"This is a valuable contribution, based on an impressive collection of different kinds of data combined with some smart thinking. Globalization is almost an academic buzzword, and has generated too much trendy-sounding but muddle-headed thinking. Guillén cuts through the jargon and dissects the issues precisely. He also brings some new cases to the discussion. His book will be of interest to academic scholars, but also to policy analysts and business school students."--Bruce Carruthers, Northwestern University, author of City of Capital

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Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix
List of Tables x
Preface xi
A Note on Sources xv
ONE: Organizations, Globalization, and Development 3
PART 1: Development and Organizational Change 25
TWO: Three Paths to Development, Three Responses to Globalization 27
THREE: The Rise and Fall of the Business Groups 59
FOUR: The Role of Small and Medium Enterprises 95
FIVE: Multinationals, Ideology, and Organized Labor 123
PART II: Organizational Change and Performance 157
SIX: Developing Industry: Automobile and Component Manufacturing 159
SEVEN: Developing Services: Banking as an Industry in Its Own Right 183
EIGHT: On Globalization, Convergence, and Diversity 213
APPENDIX: Data and Sources 235
References 243
Index 275

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