Publication Date



The Center for Economic Development at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, is part of the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department, and is funded by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the University of Massachusetts.


By now it is widely accepted that we live in a global economy. We are more likely to buy goods from Korea than Kansas, we may have pension funds invested in companies on the Tokyo stock market as well as New York's, and we may work for a corporation with headquarters in Brussels rather than Boston. But despite our sense of participating in a world economy, it is difficult to understand how that world's economy intersects with the national or local economies with which we are more familiar. This is particularly significant for the regional economic development planner. Despite the alluring slogan, "think globally, act locally," finding a way to link the two of ten remains obscure.

An essential first step in making this linkage is for planners to learn about the key factors that contribute to increasing globalization. A second is for them to be aware of what various scholars have concluded about how this country's increasing participation in the international economy affects local economic activity and development. And the third, and perhaps most difficult, step is to draw practical lessons for regional industrial development planning.

This paper has the modest goal of introducing each of these three areas, without claiming to comprehensively review any of them. Part 1 describes the major elements that appear in most discussions of increasing economic globalization. Part 2 surveys the recent trends of this country's involvement in international economic activity and describes how, in the view of several scholars, this has affected local economic conditions. Finally, Part 3 offers some suggestions about how awareness of globalization might affect the work of regional industrial planners, using the plastics industry in the Montachusetts region of Massachusetts as an example.


Section 3: Pages 1-25