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Opinion

People Are Angry About Globalization. Here’s What to Do About It.

By Pankaj Ghemawat

Pankaj Ghemawat

The point is that rhetoric, broadly defined, matters at least as much as reality.

The U.S. is in the midst of a presidential campaign in which both candidates have adopted antitrade stances and one has taken a frankly xenophobic, isolationist stance. The UK has voted to leave the European Union. Much of continental Europe is convulsed with similar combinations of disaffection, protectionism, and, in some cases, nationalism and even racism that have morphed into a more-or-less generalized anger against globalization.

The anger is real, and its possible implications are too threatening for us to simply wait for it to dissipate by itself. IMF chief Christine Lagarde has warned that similar conditions preceded many wars. And although purely economic countermeasures are important, such as the G20 declaration in Hangzhou in September calling for faster growth, they are unlikely to suffice because emotions, not just economics, are involved. For example, the parts of the UK that voted by the biggest margins to leave the EU included some of the ones that are most dependent on exports to the EU, as well as some big beneficiaries from transfer payments from the EU.

Economists, policy makers, executives, educators, the press, and others must become more adept at anger management. I call this the FRIENDS approach — it is not comprehensive, of course, but serves as a reminder that we have options other than surrendering to isolationism.

Read the full article in Harvard Business Review.

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Pankaj Ghemawat is a Global Professor of Management and Strategy and Director of the Center for the Globalization of Education and Management.