chapter  1
Introducing culture and globalization
Pages 13

We live in a world that is characterized by extraordinary differences. In a sense, it is our differences that define us as individuals. That is, they permit us to identify as unique members of our communities and societies. Collectively, at a societal level, our cultural identities are informed by our individual and group differences. These differences represent who we are, in a collective sense, and they sometimes result in frictions that color the nature of the interactions we undertake. At a societal (or economy-wide) level, we see key differences among economic systems that have evolved over lengthy periods of time – decades, generations, and centuries. From what may be described as traditionally market-centric, capitalist economies, to the former members of the Soviet Union that continue their transitions, at varying paces, toward greater market-orientations, to the new traditional economies that feature religiously-influenced economic doctrines, the differences that exist between societies often manifest in the form of increased transaction costs. Even among groups of countries that share similar economic structures, we often see considerable and pronounced cultural differences that may result in diminished economic interaction.