The Globalization of Work: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century

ESome profound changes in the world of work can be attributed to globalisation. New industrial lo-cations have emerged and the global presence of companies has changed. Similarly, not only capi-tal but also labour has become more mobile. New digital technologies are changing the way work is organised. The service industry is becoming increasingly important. Traditional forms of employ-ment are being challenged and employees have to be more flexible. At the same time, non-digital native employees have to adapt to an increasingly digitalized world, and transition to a more cli-mate friendly commute and work routine. These topics pose several questions that have to be an-swered in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century. How can work be organized in a sustainable and ecological way? How can digitalization be introduced into the work of non-digital natives? How is family life affected by new and flexible forms of employment?
The academic research on globalization has already tackled a variety of questions that are re-lated to these topics. Research has found that some workers a so called “winners” of globalization while others are “losers” (Hobolt 2016; Kriesi et al. 2008). The “winners” are workers that are able to adapt to the changing work environment because they are equipped with the necessary skills, while the “losers” lack such skills, making them more vulnerable to unemployment. Thus, the latter often have anti-globalization attitudes because they feel that the state is not protecting them against in-creased stages of globalization (Walther 2017) and are afraid of job loss due to offshoring (Dan-cygier und Walter 2015) or competition by foreigners (Becker et al. 2017). More directly related to the previously mentioned questions, recent research on globalization addresses flexibilization and digitalization (Burgoon and Raess 2009; Frenkel 2018) and discusses the growing demands for cli-mate protection and the sustainability of work (Wissen and Brand 2019).
This introduction illustrates the broad spectrum of possible research concerned with analysing the phenomenon called “globalization”. While a lot of research contributions are concerned with the phenomenon, the many questions stated above remain unanswered. This lack of answers makes globalization one of the most important current research topics as the consequences of increased stages of globalization might fundamentally change how people interact, work and live.

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Supporting Researchers

Michael Bayerlein

Michael Bayerlein has been a research fellow at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy since 2017. His research focuses on populism and extremism, political economy and party research.

Anne Metten

Photo: (c) HSG Fotografie – Blende 1.0

Anne Metten is a research assistant at the Department of Political Science at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. Her work focuses on transnational labour relations, international labour rights and trade unions, and global development dynamics. She is currently writing her dissertation on globalisation and collective labour power at the Chair of Comparative Politics. In doing so, she is investigating the political economy of industrial relations, more specifically trade unions, across countries through an empirical-analytical approach using macro-level statistical data. She graduated from Kiel University with an MA in International Politics and International Law and previously completed her BA in Political Science and Social Sciences at Bielefeld University.