Glocalization is a corporate strategy. The term, coined in the 1980s, combines “global” and “local.” This assignment defines the term and considers it in relation to Nike’s approach to global marketing.
After completing this assignment, students should be able to
- Define glocalization and discuss its meanings in relationship to the meanings of indigenization and cultural appropriation.
- Explain “why U.S. companies aren’t so American anymore.”
- Explain Nike’s approach to opening new markets in India.
- Explain the ways that each assigned example from the “Bleed Blue” campaign works to further this approach.
- Why U.S. Companies aren’t so American Anymore (usnews.com)
- Lecture Slides: Glocalization
Study the commercials that are embedded in the Lecture Slides.
Note that this guide is not meant to replace careful study of all the assigned readings, etc. Instead, this guide highlights some of the important ideas and information in the texts. To do well on our tests, quizzes, and class discussions, you will need a thorough knowledge of everything assigned.
Glocalization is similar in some ways to indigenization, a term we first encountered in the reading by Arjun Appadurai. Both processes produce cultural hybrids, so in that sense they are similar. Their differences, however, are equally important.
Indigenization describes grassroots, “bottom up” processes that reflect the needs and desires of ordinary people. Many critics, including Appadurai, see it as a positive phenomenon.
Glocalization, on the other hand, is a “top down” design and marketing strategy pursued by global corporations (e.g. Sony, Toyota, LG, Apple, Nike, McDonalds). Critics of glocalization often condemn it as a process of cultural appropriation.
Glocalization is further discussed in the lecture slides; the other two terms are discussed below.
Appropriation is defined (according to Google) as
the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.
A bank employee might appropriate money from someone else’s account, for example.
As this definition suggests, appropriation usually has a negative spin, particularly cultural appropriation, which is in the news a lot these days.
For example, cultural appropriation happens when mainstream U.S. (i.e. white) culture claims to have invented a fashionable “new” hairstyle, suddenly called boxer braids.
Cultural appropriation usually happens like this: a more powerful group (for example, one with more money, more people, or more guns) takes something from a less powerful group. This can be insulting, racist, sexist, etc. (e.g. “sexy Indian” Halloween costumes). Just as often, the more powerful group doesn’t pay for (e.g. through licensing fees or royalties) or even acknowledge their debts to the creators.
Sometimes, however, a less powerful group takes something from a more powerful group, often as a form of resistance.
The British colonizers, for example, imported the game of cricket to India in the 1800s. They believed that the game embodied manly British virtues (competitiveness, teamwork, fair play, etc.). They saw Indian men as weak and feminine, so they decided that playing this “British” sport would improve Indian men.
In part because of this history, Indians today take great delight in regularly beating the British team in international cricket competitions. The Indians have claimed cricket at their own, “indigenizing” it. They now see the game as an expression of uniquely Indian virtues.
To Sum Up
In short, indigenization is a form of cultural appropriation. One group is taking something from another group and claiming it as their own.
BUT while “cultural appropriation” is usually used to criticize something the author sees as theft or domination, “indigenization” is usually used to praise something the author sees as resistance.
- Glocal Nike