Lecture series comes to ballroom

Seth Roy

Raj Aggarwal spoke last night in the Student Center Ballroom about globalization and how it is connecting people across the globe. Aggarwal is the first of four speakers in this year’s Charles J. Pilliod Lecture Series.

Credit: Steve Schirra

The expansion of business around the world, globalization, has been around for thousands of years. The current form of globalization is focusing on technology and connecting people across the globe, said Raj Aggarwal, professor and holder of the Firestone Chair in corporate finance, in a lecture last night in the Student Center Ballroom.

Aggarwal was the first of four speakers in this year’s Charles J. Pilliod Lecture Series. The series is sponsored by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and named after a retired chairman and CEP of Goodyear and former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. This is the 19th year for the lecture series.

The lecture series strives to address topics of interest to both the academic and business communities. Aggarwal’s lecture was about the advantages of globalization and the threats to America.

“We want to make students aware of this,” said Ron Stolle, Goodyear executive professor, about the lectures and the topics. “You learn so much from these people.”

He said Aggarwal was qualified to give the presentation because of his background and his accomplishments. Aggarwal was recently ranked as the top international business professor in the world by the Journal of International Business Studies.

Aggarwal stepped forward as a last minute replacement for Ralph Peters, an author who has focused on international relations in his novels and essays. Peters canceled as a speaker last week.

“We were very disappointed,” Stolle said. “We were very fortunate that Dr. Aggarwal is here on campus.”

In his speech, Aggarwal said even though globalization has been around since the first days of farming and trading, we are now going through a re-rise of globalization.

“We all are consuming imported products,” he said. “More and more of the stuff we consume and we make crosses borders. My contention is that globalization is a natural for businesses.”

In recent years, globalization has been led by China, India and other Asian countries. Although the United States is still the leader in purchasing power, these other countries are quickly catching up.

“In fact, companies from these countries are becoming competition for U.S. companies,” Aggarwal said. “These economies are going to become more important than they are now.”

Globalization has changed over time. At first, the focus was on globalizing countries. This period phased into the globalization of companies. Now, we are in the middle of globalization of the individual.

Aggarwal credited the decline of socialism and the rise of market economies as part of the reason for China and India’s rising role in globalization. It is also easier for countries, businesses and individuals to become global through the technological revolution.

“Basically, this episode of globalization is different from the previous one,” he said. “We are witnessing the passing of the industrial age. It’s amazing the amount of change we are going through.”

Job and business expectations have changed drastically with new technology. One example of these changes is in the farming industry. Even though there are far fewer farmers now than 100 years ago, more food is actually being produced.

“Jobs were outsourced,” Aggarwal said. “Not to other countries, but to technology.”

Technology and globalization use each other to grow.

“I believe that technology and globalization are two sides of the same coin,” he said. “Technology cuts the role of distance and size barriers. Globalization makes technology valuable.”

Aggarwal said the best way for America to stay ahead of other countries in globalization is to concentrate on what it does best, in both manufacturing and service.

“It’ll be hard for us to out-China China and out-India India,” he said. “One of the ways you do well in this economy is to continue learning.”

Some students agreed with Aggarwal’s thoughts on globalization.

“I think he’s right on,” said Adam Branscomb, graduate student in the College of Business. “We can’t compete in what China and India are doing.”

Branscomb said America needs to focus on intellectual development rather than manufacturing. He said he attended the lecture to help apply his class lessons to the real world.

“I’m just trying to take advantage of everything the school offers me,” Branscomb said.

The next Pilliod lecture will be Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.

Contact College of Business reporter Seth Roy at [email protected].