1a. Explain briefly how globalization has affected it.
Under the influence of globalization, language is affected. Societies are shaped to be more multi-lingual due to the advancement in transportation technology and communication technology that increase cross-boundary interactions. With increasing international trade,new markets are opened up, some languages, like Chinese, become more popular. According to the World Trade Ogranization (2013), both the imports and exports of China to the world in 2012 are 10 times of that in 2000. Meanwhile, the number of non-native speakers who took the Chinese Proficiency Test also increased 5 times from 117,600 in 2005 to about 750,000 in 2010. (Liu,2011) Increasing international trade gives people incentive to learn a second or third language. Languages of countries with economic strength are becoming more globalized.
1b. Develop a business idea that can capture the opportunities created by globalization based on your answer in part a. Globalization expands the market of languages learning. Businessmen and workers who want to increase their competitiveness are likely to equip themselves with more foreign languages. Therefore, there could be a business that provides “shortcut e-language class for business” to learners who want to acquire a new language mainly for business purpose.
The following business model is supposed to be applicable to all languages, though providing class of languages of emerging markets, such as Chinese and Indian, tends be more profitable. The target groups of this business are the above-mentioned people who like to use a foreign language in business contexts. Their identities may vary from fresh graduates to executive officers. The course will be e-based, with learning materials designed in the form of apps and interactive e-text book for users to download to portable devices. The content of the language course will primarily focus on language for business, for example, conversations in office, meeting and luncheon will be introduced. In addition, language will be taught for social scenarios that businessmen usually encounter, for example, ordering food and drinks in restaurants and bars. Some common idioms and local business culture will also be taught so as to facilitate learners to adapt to realforeign business environment.
This business has several differentiations. First, the courses it provides are efficient as the content will be focused and highly applicable in business scenarios. Although it is true that language proficiency takes long time to develop, this course provides a kind of shortcut for learners to apply a foreign language at least in common business contexts. Second, with good support of learning materials in different electronic forms, even busy businessmen and workers may learn languages for business by bits and pieces, using tablet or smartphone. Third, the learning materials will hopefully be designed using mnemonics, so that learners can acquire a new language effectively.
2. Develop a business idea that takes advantage of crowdsourcing. What could be one challenge that you face? There are a lot of advantages of crowdsourcing. For example, crowdsourcing is accessible by people around the world and it can collect empirical ideas and work from anonymous people. Based on these advantages, there could be a travel agency that provides alternative aboard tourism. The travelling agency provides tours with different themes, such as art trip, social innovation trip, sub-culture trip, creativity trip and self-discovery trip etc. The agency is meant to provide travelers with unique and fulfilling travelling experiences in which they can meet like-minded people and explore a theme they are interested in.
Through crowdsourcing, ideas of itinerary of different thematic trips can be collected from travelers and local people around the world. People can contribute ideas based on their personal travelling experience or good knowledge of home country, so the works crowdsourced are expected to be diversified. People may develop ideas around their hobbies or interests. For example, a young social entrepreneur in the United Kingdom may share an itinerary of a 5-day social enterprise trip for like-minded foreigners who are interested in social innovation. The travel agency will then design official itineraries based on the suggestions from the crowd. Official itineraries will also be posted on crowdsourcing platform for people to comment.
The incentives for people to participate in the crowdsourcing may be that as many travelers are very enthusiastic to share their experience and information of travelling, so they may gain satisfaction for having their ideas for trips shared publicly or even adopted by a travel agency to make it real.
However, there could be different challenges, for example, it may be difficult to look for suitable tour guides for respective thematic trips even there are desirable itineraries ready. For this alternative travel agency, the requirements for tour guides are higher than that of mainstream agencies. Therefore, the right tour guides should be equipped with professional knowledge of the theme of trip. For example, for an art trip, an ideal tour guide should be one who is familiar with and passionate on Arts, so that he/she can share more personal views and experiences related arts ,rather than introducing tourists with boring information of destinations.
This challenge is not easy to solve as the tour guides shall be local people living in the destination countries. To overcome this challenge, one possible way is to invite idea contributors on the crowdsourcing platform to be the local contacts or the tour guides. Part-time job opportunities could be offered. This may also turn into another incentive for people to participate in crowdsourcing.
3. In what ways can globalization negatively affect a new start-up like EcoSave? Provide some detailed examples. Globalization negatively affects a new start-up like Eco$ave in at least two ways. First, a new start-up like Eco$ave tends to face keen and direct competition under globalization. Globalization enables free flow of goods, so often local markets are saturated with worldwide goods of wide variety and good quality, especially those provided by multi-national corporates (MNCs), for example Procter & Gamble and Unilever in the detergent market that Eco$ave aims at. (Zheng, 2013) Since customers already have many choices,a start-ups like Eco$ave needs to put more effort in differentiating and marketing itself.Higher marketing cost may hence be incurred. Also, it will be difficult for new start-ups to find physical sales channel when the slotting fee for the start-ups’ products will be higher than that of the MNCs, due to the low reputation and low bargaining power of start-ups. For example, the slotting fees for major supermarket chains in Hong Kong, like Wellcome and ParknShop, are HK$1000 per stock keeping unit per store. (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service,2012, p.11) The fees may be unaffordable to startups, hence becomes barriers.
Second, the products of the start-ups may be replicated more easily under globalization. MNCs are competitive in terms of talents and capital. For example, for P&G ,its annual investment in R&D in 2011 was $2 billion, with staff of 8,700 in R&D department, 1000 of which hold PhD’s.( Hughes,2011) When MNCs notice innovative products are introduced by local start-ups like Eco$ave, they may invest on research and development (R&D) to quickly introduce similar products, which may even be of higher quality. In Eco$ave’s case, MNCs may simply invest in the bio-chemical research on the MSA technology that Eco$ave adopts and replies on. If start-ups cannot get their products accepted by the market quickly before their ideas being replicated by powerful MNCs, the start-ups are likely put in very disadvantaged position in the market.
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