Hey Grewal, I’ve got some questions for you!

Dear Grewal,

Your ideas on networks seem to really help connect some of the concepts we’ve looked at —  globalization, global governance, etc.  — with examples that are easily understood in terms of everyday life. But while reading the speech you gave to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, I had a few questions:


1)      Is the Thomas Schelling “logic of tacit coordination” example really the same as your globalization example?  Or is Schelling really talking about cultural knowledge, something which varies from culture to culture (and which is more present in what Edward Hall calls high-context communication cultures,) while you are making an argument about power-dynamics leading to standardization?

2)      Is there any predictive value to your model?  Using your example of English, and assuming that power = more likely to impact which standards are adopted,  we can answer yes: a dominant power both economically and socially –> dominant language.  (The question of Chinese “taking over” due to superior population and increase in trade would only seem to be relevant if the power of those speaking Chinese > power of those speaking English AND, as your lovely speech details, those powerful in China have incentives to want Chinese to be the dominant language.)
But in other arguments, where there are nodes whose influence and connections are more comparable, is there any way for your model to predict outcome?  Or is the theory more of a way of explaining past behavior?  As a follow-up, how do you account for change/fluidity of networks?  In the long-run, everything is variable…


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One Response to Hey Grewal, I’ve got some questions for you!

  1. Mariam S. says:

    To answer your first question- I do see how “the logic of tacit coordination” is similar to globalization as the process of establishing worldwide standards. Cultural knowledge does vary from culture to culture, but I think Grewal is drawing a parallel by saying that the effect of globalization is to do just that- create a level of cultural knowledge that is global in scope and generating worldwide social conventions that have enormous durability, like the English language or Microsoft.
    I think the direction of the relationship is standardization leading to power dynamics, rather than the other way around. In a networked world, the question of which standards people use to coordinate their activities is where the power comes from. The more widely used one of them is, the more valuable it becomes for everybody else to use, at which point the owner or creator of the standard can derive power from it.

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