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“Globalization, Poverty and Inequality” by Kaplinsky

Professor Raphael Malcolm Kaplinsky is a member of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology at The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes. Born on 31 December 1946, he is the author of a number of books and research papers on the subject of technology, industrialization, and globalization. These incorporate readings on globalization, industrial strategy, business organization, global value chains, the global automobile segment, computer-integrated automation, and computer aided design along with some study on the effects of microelectronics on employment and on apposite technology. In the early 1990s, he broke new grounds in the research field on shifting patterns of organization about manufacturing in emergent nations. In 2005, the author penned down a publication on the subject of globalization, making use of extensive micro-, meso- and macro-data to scrutinize the sweeping outcomes of advancement in the large-scale economy. The book is named Globalization, Poverty and Inequality – Between a Rock and a Hard Place published by Polity Press. While carrying out his research for the book, the author in due course has worked in consort with various business institutions, government-sector divisions along with other diverse organizations in Japan, the United States of America, countries in Western as well as Eastern Europe, Central American nations, Brazil, and in the regions of sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia.

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The author has also contributed his expertise in a number of UN and EU Missions, offering counsel to a numerous nations, specifically on industrialized and technology related strategies. He was appointed as the leader of a large number teams of consultants in missions to Central American countries, Cyprus, South Africa and Kazakhstan and has taken part as a consultant in countless other countries. During the time period from 1991 to 2003 Kaplinsky worked intensely with the administration of South African on aspects relating to Industrial Policy, and has been profoundly involved in the progress of industrial approach in the post-Apartheid epoch. In addition Raphael Kaplinsky has also presented his opinions on tactical focus and on industrialized organization to multinational firms, and to companies based in the United Kingdom, African region, Brazil, Central Asia, Central America and India.

During the 1990s, he worked in association with the European Commission on a program, which aimed to provide aid to foster organizational streamlining in European industrialization and services. In recent times, the author synchronized economic backing to the Brighton and Hove Economic Regeneration Council and gave his opinion to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on course of actions towards agricultural produce. From 1998 to 2003 Kaplinsky held the position of the research manager of an integrated and internationally networked program of exploration on Globalization and Value Chains embarked on by the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in collaboration with an assortment of global cohorts hailing from the academic field, the commercial sector, the multilateral organizations and civil-society. During 2005, the author prompted an identical internationally networked research program on the influence of vibrant Asian economies on the emergent world (The Asian Drivers Programme), and has specific contribution to the initiative’s endeavor on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Both the terms poverty and inequality are intricate, multifaceted, and are prove to be complicated to measure. Of late, definitions of poverty in conventional development discourse have shifted beyond just a basic earnings definition. Poverty is now put into a wider framework, not just incorporating variables of income, health and learning but also susceptibility, voiceless ness and incapacity. The World Bank’s Voices of the Poor initiative derived from research concerning the poor populace across 23 nations sketches a variety of aspects that the poor people classify as elements of poverty. These incorporate factors like insecure livelihoods, debarred locations, physical confines, gender associations, tribulations within social relationships, lack of protection and abuse by the powerful, disempowering establishments, limited means and frail community organizations. Measuring poverty is complex particularly when the poverty is considered in a broader aspect.

Globalization and its insinuations for progress is a widely discussed topic in the field of academia as well as among policy architects, non-government establishments and the common public. Nevertheless, most habitually the deliberations are primarily concerned with the positives and negatives coming out of globalization. This book by the author Raphael Malcolm Kaplinsky goes beyond just the simple advantages and disadvantages and portrays the significance of the mode of involvement in globalization as the final straw of obtaining the payback of globalization. The author outlines his point of view rationally and in a straightforward and fascinating fashion.

The book looks at why various nations were unsuccessful in reaping the benefits of globalization and how the very achievements of a number of countries itself is a basis of poverty for other realms. In the authors own words, ‘what is relatively new in the study is that it focuses on the mechanisms through which the export surge from low income countries has affected the employment and inequality in other low income economies’. This book offers a comprehensive and evenhanded account of the connection between globalization courses and the universal trends of poverty and inequality. A mounting pile of modern literature puts forward that poverty and inequality are at the heart of the most debatable and unsettled discussions concerning globalization. The policy argument has even more been intensely discussed, concerning conflicting substantiations and explanations – has worldwide poverty amplified or reduced is a question yet to be agreed upon by all experts. Questions such as the growth of inequality and its effects, globalization being the root of poverty and inequality or poverty being increased because of inadequate globalization are widely debated and Kaplinsky’s dissertation is a brilliant addition to such debates.

The book is segmented into three sections. The first part, which is further subdivided into two different chapters, scrutinizes the notion of globalization along with poverty as well as evaluates the outlines of poverty that have materialized in this globalization epoch. The author concentrates on economic globalization, described as “the global spread of labor, capital, technology and products and the reduction of barriers to international trade” (Kaplinsky, 12-13). It reviews the historical records of globalization in short, contrasting the former period of globalization during the nineteenth century and the presently existing phase of globalization, typified by deals in comparable and contending products and noticeably a reduced amount of mobility of populace and capital. He highlights the fact that contemporary globalization policies were originally enforced on countries that were beholden and in due course, unobstructed trade has emerged as the conventional policy and eventually become the prevailing attitude. By putting down the speculative framework in the following chapter, i.e., whether the association amongst poverty and inequality is a relative or residual one, Kaplinsky makes an effort to explore it in the subsequent two sections of the book. Part II of the book inspects why specific manufacturers may be caught on the wrong foot in spite of their expansion of their productions and efforts to take part in the global economy. The author explicates this by resorting to the methodical framework of the theory of rent. Even though rents offer maintained income, it is not assembled with ease and demonstrates a dynamic character. Both the subsistence of rents and the capacity to correct rent come to pass from the barriers to entry.

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The ability of manufacturers to benefit from luxurious and sustained earnings devolves on their capability to defend themselves from opposition by building up and/or making use of the barriers to entry. Most of the barriers of entry shield the endogenous classifications of rents. With rivalry, rents wear away and so does the earnings. He points out that profits from globalization rely on the producers take on how to place themselves in the international markets. The producer needs to appropriate rent by implementing an assortment of approaches to get away from the demanding nature of competition. Consequently, the accomplishments of a producer within the global economy rely upon how successfully he transforms the relative gains into competitive leads by the use of extreme innovation management.

In light of this context, Kaplinsky attends to four areas of innovation management- within each plant and company; within co-located industrialized groups; within global value chains; and in managing associations with global consumers. Managing domestic competitiveness in an organization itself does not guarantee earnings in the age of globalization where each individual organization is entrenched in a network of organizations. Thus, in an ever more globalize arena; supervising innovation throughout the network has a major significance in calculation of the victors and failures of globalization. However, the question of whether the producers based in the low-income nations were successful enough in understanding the morals of innovation management is one to be contemplated. In the fifth chapter, Kaplinsky evaluates this side of the context by concentrating on three core industries: garments and textiles, furniture and auto-sector, which are of most significance for emergent nations. Although all these industries are similar on some specific grounds, they are at variance when the part the play in emergent countries is considered. The garments and textiles industry is one of the main exporting sectors from low-income nations, specifically from the smallest income group, while the furniture sales overseas are distributed widely among various income groups. Both these sectors are consumer driven chains, whereas the happenings in the auto sector is determined by major international producers and is primarily exported from upper and middle income group nations with the exception of China and India which are low income group states. In all these industries, international trade has by far gone beyond global fabrication. In light of this trade intensification, it has been observed that there is an increased participation from the emergent nations and at the same time as there is evermore substantiation of trade among retailers and specialized consumers in the textile and furniture sector and amid assemblers and 0.5-tier constituent suppliers in the auto industry. Likewise, even though manufacture and trade in relation to physical supplies have intensified in all of these industries, the favors of intangible aspects of business such as design, trademarks and promotion have sided with economically higher countries, or in the possession of firms positioned in high-income economies assigning an imperative role to the key chain authority. An additional noteworthy factor that the author identifies is the growing position of China in all of these industry aspects.

The author restates that even though in all of these industries global fabrication and trade operations have intensified, yet it is impractical to assume that such happenings will implicitly call for a broader spread of earnings and that poverty may ensue as a residual of globalization. In the same way, it is not feasible to consider that the growth curve is sustainable and that it would stretch its reach to various low-income economies along with other sectors. He mentions that the sector-oriented findings cannot be broadened to be adapted to the global scale. Time and again, a comprehensive scrutiny of individual companies, nations, clusters of realms and industries are carried out and the conclusions are broadened to fit the global scale. Nevertheless, he indicates that there is an erroneous notion of composition in doing so.

In the third section and the most significant portion of the book, the author elucidates these concepts in depth and draws attention to the fact that the advancement of several producers in various sectors does not transform into benefits obtained by most producers or sectors. Therefore, it is intricate to uphold the residual account of poverty. As an alternative, Kaplinsky mentions that a major element of global poverty is relational, a straight consequence of functioning in the global economy.

By analyzing the tendencies in relation to global production and business operations the author argues that the low income economies exporting fabricated products are caught between a rock and a hard place, i.e., in the midst of increased production potential globally and enhanced intensification of trade power. As an outcome of this asymmetrical market condition, the costs of their produced goods are forced out, ensuing weakening position with regards to the trade operations of majority of the low-income nations. He draws attention to the fact that the recent surfacing of China in the global economic arena is a significant cause for escalating the productive competence. This weight on costs is anticipated to persist continually except for the materialization of a situation where there is a parallel amplification in global consumption.

Global trade is likely to offer benefits to the partaking countries; mainly trade presumptions are anchored in the supposition of full employment. On the other hand, in a world predominated with unemployment, all producers benefiting from global production and exchange may not always be true, as some economies may fail to find suitable markets for specific products. If at all they do, it possibly will be due to major price-cuts in their product-lines. The author mentions that the returns from outward-leaning manufacturing may cause a fallacy of composition.

It is logical for a country like China to particularly intensify their exports of manufactured products and reap benefits from that. Yet, due to surplus capacity and unemployment, other less proficient producers have little room in the markets. Entry of additional player will just bring about price reductions of products. He identifies that the excess labor, the surplus of investment eligible resources and the mobility of international sponsors means that for numerous global economies, poverty and inequality are not residual, but relational to globalization. Given that poverty and inequality are relational concepts and not just residual notions, the “one-size-fits all” paradigm with respect to poverty and inequality is not competent enough to address the relevant issues. The author stresses on the necessity of dynamic and integrated strategies to let countries the benefits of globalization. Because various countries have diverse understandings of globalization, it is needed that national and regional economies retort with suitably contextual strategies, accounting for their individual relative advantages, limitations, openings and trajectories.

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Overall, the book is a significant contribution to the perceptive of the progression of globalization, more so, in the context of emergent economies. Moving away from the reliance on trade operations in key products and focusing on exports of manufactured goods was time and again viewed as the universal remedy for the tribulations faced by the emergent economies. Manufactured exports are likely to provide improved export income and the occurrence of such happenings in the East Asian countries substantiated this argument. However, the validity of such an argument had come under the scanner; calling for attention to the fact that majority of the emergent nations are taking part in the low technology concentrated fragment of the value chain, which turns their incomes into insufficient earnings as contrasted against the developed economies which are placed in the higher levels of the value chain. This book by Raphael Kaplinsky is an extremely precious addition to the literature favoring this school of thought where he rationally, reasonably and with awareness brings forward the specific details associated with taking part in the progression of globalization.

Works Cited

Kaplinsky, R. Globalization, Poverty and Inequality: Between a Rock and a Hard Place. New York: Polity, 2005.

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StudyCorgi. "“Globalization, Poverty and Inequality” by Kaplinsky." November 2, 2021.


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StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Globalization, Poverty and Inequality” by Kaplinsky'. 2 November.

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