The Great Convergence · Information Technology and the New Globalization · Book Review

The Great Convergence

“The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization” by Richard Baldwin is an incisive and well-reasoned exploration into the seismic shifts that have occurred in the arena of global economics, largely owing to the rise of information technology. Baldwin, an economist and professor of international economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, presents a compelling argument that the age-old processes of globalization have fundamentally changed. Gone are the days when globalization was primarily about the movement of goods; today, it’s much more about the flow of information and services across borders.

At the core of Baldwin’s thesis is the idea of a “great convergence,” where advances in IT have dissolved the rigid geographical divisions of labor. The book draws a distinction between the “old” globalization, which was constrained by distance and transport costs, and the “new” globalization, which is driven by the digital revolution that allows knowledge and services to flow freely across borders. In this new world, globalization affects not just the trade of physical goods but also influences services, ideas, and even people.

One of the book’s strengths is its meticulous research, replete with data and case studies, which lends credibility to Baldwin’s arguments. He doesn’t just make claims; he substantiates them with evidence, often turning to history to provide context and perspective. This makes for an engaging read that balances theory with real-world examples, from the offshoring practices of multinational corporations to the socio-economic impact on developing nations.

However, some readers might find the book leans too heavily on economic theory, making it less accessible to those without a background in economics. Baldwin’s optimistic tone might also come across as dismissive of the legitimate concerns surrounding the societal and cultural implications of this new wave of globalization, such as job displacement and income inequality. These aspects are touched upon, but they don’t receive the same rigorous analysis as the economic dimensions.

Nonetheless, “The Great Convergence” is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to understand the intricate mechanics of modern globalization. It challenges conventional wisdom and replaces it with a nuanced perspective on how information technology is reshaping the contours of global economic interaction. The book is not just a catalog of changes; it also serves as a guide to navigating the complexities of a world where the only constant is change. For policymakers, business leaders, and academics, Baldwin’s work offers a framework for both understanding and action, making it a must-read for anyone invested in the future of global economics.