Globalisation is evoked to describe the way in which the world is increasingly interconnected, with people, institutions and capital and investment crossing borders more than ever before. Globalisation also captures something about cultural changes so that all around the world the same entertainment packages, particular ‘popular’ entertainment, have widespread appeal. This interconnectedness has been enabled by cheaper and faster transport systems and ubiquitous online connectivity. Globalisation is supported by (or has led to) political and economic changes so that the term is also used to refer to moves towards neo-liberal economic systems in which barriers to trade, investments and to some degree movement of people are withdrawn and protection of workers and citizen rights are eroded. For anti-globalisation critiques these changes have (Castells, 2012)led to the withering away of traditional rights (e.g. Castells, 2012) and, drawing on Piketty (2014) the increasing accumulation of wealth by small numbers of elites. Of course there is nothing new about international trade, liberal economics or for that matter the rapid adoption of ideas from local to international levels. It is the speed of change which marks recent times and the increasingly international nature of national problems.
Academic institutions have been affected by globalization (e.g Rui Yang, 2002; Scott, 2000); Walker, 2009 for more on this). Universities have looked for international partners, set up overseas campuses, encouraged overseas students. They have introduced technology supported distance learning to spread their reach. With technology, academic work has become intensified and subject to more intrusive measures of monitoring and control. There is increasing differentiation between research active and teaching staff. Universities seem much more willing to engage with non-academic organisations. This has led to more reliance on private money and for some an over eagerness to seek knowledge for its utilitarian value. Globalisaiton does however have its upside. There is for some at least a new levels of academic mobility and new opportunities for research collaboration both across and outside academia.
Globlalisation is of course a subject of study in its own right but here we are interested in the consequence for research methodology. I will suggest three. First, in terms of research activity it become important to reaffirm the importance of critical values and of talking truth to power if academic work is not to be compromised by utilitarian concerns. Second, it becomes increasingly important to seek to address international asymmetries in power in research. This means looking at ways in which research literature is skewed towards research in areas with more resources areas (at least up to now the ‘west’). Third, a more general orientation to search out counter narratives and understanding that there are multiple perspectives on any issue. This will require us to develop greater intercultural skills and sensititivy towards the use of English which is a second languages for many researchers.
Castells, M. (2012). Networks of Outrage and Hope:Social movements in the internet age. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Piketty, T. (2013) Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Rui Yang (2002) University internationalisation: Its meanings, rationales and implications, Intercultural Education, 13:1, 81-95,
Scott, P. (2000) Globalisation and Higher Education: Challenges for the 21st Century, Journal of Studies in International Education, 4, 1, 3 – 10.
Walker, J. (2009) Time as the fourth dimension in the globalization of higher education, The Journal of Higher Education, 80 5, pp. 483-509.
For a more recent view follow this lecture by John Sexton