The USA in World Integration
Edited by Thomas L. Brewer and Gavin Boyd
Chapter 6: Technology in the globalization of the USA
Maria Papadakis INTRODUCTION In the ﬁrst chapter of this volume, Frederic Pryor made the useful distinction between ‘old’ and ‘new’ globalization. The difference between these two international dynamics is an important one, especially for understanding how technology ﬁgures in the global economic presence of the United States. Prior to the US competitiveness crisis of the mid-1980s, US interactions with the world economy largely involved what Pryor refers to as ‘old’ globalization: the volume of international trade exploded; economic, political, and communication linkages between nations expanded and tightened; and the international trade regime experienced a dramatic liberalization. Old globalization represents the growing internationalization of the world political economy, a period in which system interdependence increased by several orders of magnitude. For the United States, technological considerations were not primary ones during old globalization. The emphasis was on free trade and improving American access to foreign markets; no real notion of international business competition existed. Conventional perceptions of comparative advantage – as determined by the underlying productivity structures of the American economy – inﬂuenced policy approaches to international competitiveness, and American industry itself appeared woefully naive about the emerging character of global competition (Zysman and Tyson, 1983). Trade liberalization was pursued by government and business as an end in itself, with no real appreciation of technology as a strategic element of international trade and global markets. Trade liberalization was instead intended to allow US comparative advantage to more clearly manifest itself in international trade ﬂows. Such a laissez-faire attitude toward technology changed suddenly...
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