The Need for Glocalization

When describing Speexx as a global online language training solution with local support, we often use the term glocalization. I would really love to claim this one for myself but actually, it first appeared in the late 1980s in articles written by Japanese economists for the Harvard Business Review. The term simply combines the words globalization and localization. It was invented to emphasize the fact that the globalization of a product or service is more likely to succeed when the product or service is adapted specifically to each locality it is marketed in. Sociologist Roland Robertson, who is credited with spreading the term, describes glocalization as the tempering effects of local conditions on global pressures. At a 1997 conference on “Globalization and Indigenous Culture”, Robertson explained that glocalization “means the simultaneity — the co-presence — of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies.”

Glocalization Everywhere

There are plenty of popular examples for successful “glocal” enterprises; among the best-known are McDonald’s and KFC. The increasing presence of fast food chain restaurants worldwide is an example of globalization. A fast food chain’s menu adaptations to local plates, on the other hand, is an example of glocalization. Perhaps even more illustrative of glocalization: For promotions in France and given the French’s legendary unease with the sort of mass-market American culture that McDonald’s has come to epitomize, they simply sacked the familiar Ronald McDonald character. Ronald’s replacement comes in the form of  a champion of Gallic culture – Asterix.

Another well-known example is Coca Cola – described in an interesting blog post on the BBC website by Nathalie Nahai, author of ‘Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion‘. She puts the effects of glocalization pretty straight: “English is dead, long live ‘glocalization’.

Glocalization in Learning English Online

Which brings me to learning languages online in a global workplace: global technology platforms like the ubiquitous cloud-based learning and performance management systems we see at large corporations around the world are a great way to disseminate information. But on their own, they do not teach anything. Many organizations make the costly mistake of assuming that, just because they have one centralized system for learning English online, it can be applied to everything, everyone and anytime. A “one-size-fits-all” approach, however, is not pragmatic and most often does not work, not for gastronomy and not for learning English online. This is because the objective, drive and capacity to learn vary strongly among individual users.

Therefore, a successful talent management and language learning solution is about “glocalization,” which in this context means implementing one streamlined, global solution complemented by local support. The more we look at organizations on an international scale, the more we see the need to address learning diversity in terms of age, gender and culture. Local support starts with a technical help desk that can implement the technology and methodology for learning English online. Local tutors are also necessary, who can teach English in a way that is suited to the cultural and learning needs of the particular set of students. Glocalization in English language training allows organizations to effectively embrace the opportunities that new technologies have to offer and unlock the full potential of talent within their workforce.

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About the Author:

Armin is Founder and President of Speexx, the world’s leading online language learning and business communication skills training service. He writes and occasionally speaks about learning languages online and the secret of the Perfect Blend and global talent management, Speexx, e-learning and generally believes in the power of communication. Follow Armin on Twitter and LinkedIn.