Theodore Levitt's 'the Globalization of Markets': An Evaluation after Two Decades
30 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2003
Date Written: February 2003
Theodore Levitt was one of the first scholars to write a high-impact article on globalization aimed at business managers. Now, two decades later, "The Globalization of Markets" is still widely read. Rather than agreeing with Levitt, however, most observers today believe that his arguments were flawed and his predictions have not been borne out. To be sure, we agree that not all of Levitt's predictions came true. Nevertheless, his article does offer enduring insights; and those are what we want to explore. Understanding Levitt's "globalization" as an analytical lens through which to view the world is highly useful. Indeed, Levitt's central insight - that "preferences are constantly shaped and reshaped" - is crucial for both managers and scholars. What constitutes globalization, in Levitt's (and our) way of thinking, is interaction that changes things, rather than leaving them the same. Successful firms and the managers who run them do not leave the world as they found it. Rather than taking consumer preferences as a given, successful managers have treated them as outcomes. Following Levitt, then, we can see that the global market is not solely what firms find. The market is, to some important extent, what firms make of it.
Keywords: Theodore Levitt, Globalization, Business Managers, Consumers, Consumer Preferences, The Global market
JEL Classification: B20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation