The Impact of Globalization and Technology in South Africa

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This essay will discuss the impact of globalization and technology on South African organization.

Globalization is described as, “the integration of economic, political, social and cultural relations among people, companies and governments of different nations and countries.” This is a process that is developed by multinational companies that operate from more than one country. Toyota, Hisense and recently Nissan are perfect examples. There are conflicting opinions about globalization, mostly based on who it affects and why it affects specific people.

Price sites globalization as the most significant factor in the development of Human Resources. This is firstly because it has huge influence on the business environment which Human Resource strategies so heavily rely on. Business environment is all the internal and external factors that affect how companies function. Price goes on further to describe globalization as the “new division of labour.” Division of labour is defined as the subdivision of work so that specific tasks are allocated to individuals deemed most suitable on the basis of skill, experience or cultural tradition. Such a practice proves advantageous to the organization because they can reap the benefits of greater skills and lower employee costs.

Through the integration in production of goods and services, we see branded products become less diverse as employees of multinational organizations begin to use the same techniques to reach the same level of production. The cost of skills and employees are then subjected to competition. This is where we start to see the downside to globalization, though it can be extremely beneficial to organizations, it has shown to be detrimental to workers.

On the issue of globalisation being “the new division of labour”; we see a trend towards to alienation, employees become disillusioned with having to repeat the same tasks thus feeling estranged from their employers, organization. Such as issue puts pressure on human resource management departments to attempt to make employees feel included in the course of the organization because uncommitted employees have a negative impact on the organization’s bottom line and its reputation.

Global competition in cost of skills and workers has firstly reduced workers’ sense of job security because work (therefore jobs) can be moved from one country to another. It is a disconcerting phenomenon from a human resource management perspective because workers value company stability and cannot stay committed or be at their most productive if they are under constant duress. Secondly, globalization has led to social dumping: switching production from countries with high employee costs to those with cheap labour therefore undercutting one countries’ wage. This not only further promotes job insecurity, but also results in actual job losses. Multinational corporations are attracted to countries that offer cheap labour in an attempt to lower their costs. South Africa, however, has not fallen within this scope. South Africa’s wage rates are significantly higher compared to countries like China or Vietnam.

Even worse is the fact that South Africa’s level of productivity fails to match that of its counterparts. It is therefore difficult for South Africa as a developing country to compete on a global scale in terms of providing unskilled labour which has many workers succumbing to retrenchment as giant corporations who pack up and leave in favour of countries that do provide cheaper labour. Thirdly, global competition in labour has lead to corporations taking advantage of workers in developing countries. We find workers having to endure long working hours and exposure to health and safety risks i.e. sweatshops. These workers are vulnerable and have no choice but to stand by such working conditions because, as mentioned above, they are substitutable.

South Africa again shows how globalization plays out in a developing country. Theoretical aspects of globalization always highlight economic effects of globalization but almost always fail to mention its capacity to create hierarchical relations within a society. A condition that was quite specific to South Africa. The end of the apartheid era saw a trend of skilled South Africans, who were mostly white people at the time, migrating to developed countries.

A huge gap in much needed skilled employees was left behind, a gap that- because of previous racial profiling, couldn’t be filled by the remaining black workers. This issue was seen as an opportunity to place previously disadvantaged people of colour in the forefront from where they had been excluded before. Policies and strategies; Growth, Employment, and Redistribution (GEAR), BEE and COSATU, were introduced in an attempt to correct the remaining effects of segregation. The effects of globalization and lingering difficulties from the apartheid era soon proved too much for the new government and its policies to handle. Where capital had been the main beneficiary of globalization, labourers still suffered.

Developments introduced with the purpose of bringing forth a new generation of skilled workers was counter-attacked by South Africa’s struggle to retain these workers as they too, like their predecessors, chose to migrate to developed countries. Organized workers were retrenched or forced into informal employment and a surge of inequality came forth. Globalization essentially began to marginalize workers with African women bearing the brunt. Only a minute proportion of the labour force and the elite were able to enjoy the capital brought through global integration. Globalization has thus promoted inequality and poverty through its failure to meet the interests of poorer people.

Global competitiveness, however, is not all bad. The concerns surrounding “brain drain” can be seen as a revitalization for human resource development across Africa. South Africa, having some first-world like qualities and an abundance of raw materials, has the potential to attract skilled personnel from other African countries that do not show the same potential. Given the racial profile of these potential emigrates, globalization has opened up opportunities for previously disadvantaged black Africans to develop themselves into skilled workers. It is important to be aware of the fact that globalization wouldn’t have such a major role in the way the world functions in this day and age without technology. Since globalization is the intensification of worldwide relations, it only makes sense that modern technology be accredited with allowing these links to be established. (habib)

It can be said that globalization is a perfect representation of a coin. On one side it has proven to be exceptionally beneficially to developed countries that house multinational companies and skilled workers. These companies reap the benefits of low-cost workers and access to raw materials while at the same time receive a steady flow of skilled workers fleeing from form developing countries. The same cannot be said for developing countries whose unskilled workers are more likely to be taken unfair advantage of by these companies. As well as the on going issue of skilled workers migrating to developed countries.


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The Impact of Globalization and Technology in South Africa. (2020, Sep 09). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-impact-of-globalization-and-technology-in-south-africa/

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