The introduction of globalization as a shelf term gained prominence in the late 20th century when the world witnessed a surge in cross-border interactions. The rise of international institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) played a significant role in shaping the discourse on economic globalization. (, n.d.) These institutions emphasized the benefits of liberalizing markets, facilitating trade, and promoting economic growth as means to alleviate poverty and foster global development.

The flow and flaws of an imbalanced recipe 

Proponents of globalization highlight its potential for economic prosperity, technological advancement, and cultural exchange. They argue that increased international trade leads to specialization, efficiency, and access to a wider range of goods and services. Migration is viewed as a source to enrich cultural exchange and reduce labor gaps in the market. Globalized finance enables capital flows, investment opportunities, and access to funding for development projects. Proponents argue that globalization has lifted millions out of poverty, connected people across borders, and fostered cooperation in addressing global challenges.

Globalization is an international phenomenon characterized by a mix of international trade, migration, and globalized finance. It encompasses the interconnectedness of economies, societies, and cultures across national boundaries. The flow of goods, services, capital, and people has expanded exponentially, shaping the modern world. However, this polemic recipe of globalization comes with both benefits and drawbacks.

Complexities and Contradictions of Economic Globalization in the Construction Industry - Sheet1
Transformation map by World Trade Institute (WTI)_© 2023 World Economic Forum

However, some critics of globalization raise concerns about its flaws and negative consequences. Anti-globalists argue that globalization exacerbates inequality, with the benefits disproportionately favoring multinational corporations and wealthy elites. They highlight how it can lead to the displacement of local industries, job losses, and wage stagnation in certain sectors. Additionally, cultural homogenization (Said, 2021), environmental degradation, and exploitation of labor in developing countries are raised as issues.

Globalization has impacted people and communities across the globe and has significantly influenced sustainable development. (United Nations, 2017). The pro and anti-globalization viewpoints represent a spectrum of perspectives on the impact and desirability of globalization. The ongoing debates surrounding economic globalization continue to shape the discourse and policy decisions at national and international levels. It is crucial to critically analyze the flow and flaws of globalization to navigate its complexities effectively, harness its potential benefits, and address its challenges in a way that promotes inclusive and sustainable development on a global scale.

Positioning of economic globalisation in the construction industry 

Construction at one end encompasses the entire construction process, including the production of raw materials, manufacturing of building components, provision of professional services like design and project management, and execution of physical work on-site. This holistic perspective recognizes construction as an economic activity spanning the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors.

According to Oxford Economics (2021), global construction output reached $10.7 trillion in 2020 (in 2017 prices and exchange rates). It is projected to grow by 42%, or $4.5 trillion, between 2020 and 2030, reaching $15.2 trillion. In the shorter term, it is expected to reach $13.3 trillion by 2025, adding $2.6 trillion to output within five years. The Asia Pacific region is anticipated to account for $2.5 trillion of this growth, experiencing a 50% increase and becoming a $7.4 trillion market by 2030.

This positioning of economic globalization within the construction industry highlights its significance as a global engine for economic growth and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The construction sector encompasses a wide range of activities, from the extraction of natural resources to the provision of consultancy services, and it has a substantial impact on the global economy. The construction industry is “a sector of the economy which, through planning, design, construction, maintenance and repair, and operation, transforms various resources into constructed facilities” (Moavenzadeh, 1978, p. 98).

By understanding construction as a multifaceted economic activity, we can appreciate the interconnectedness of various sectors and the global nature of the industry. It involves not only the physical creation of buildings and infrastructure but also the production and distribution of materials, the employment of skilled professionals, and the facilitation of economic transactions. Economic globalization plays a crucial role in driving the growth and expansion of the construction industry, facilitating the flow of capital, labor, and resources across national borders.

Complexities and Contradictions of Economic Globalization in the Construction Industry - Sheet2
Taj Hotel and The Gateway of India_©pixabay

Inequality and Social Justice

In the context of economic globalization and its impact on architecture, issues of inequality and social justice are significant considerations. Critics argue that economic globalization while promoting economic growth and development, can exacerbate inequalities in the distribution of wealth, access to resources, and opportunities within societies.

The garment industry in Bangladesh making clothes that are then shipped out across the world _©Mushfiqul Alam via

One area where these disparities manifest is in the labor force of the construction and architecture industries. Economic globalization has led to the outsourcing of labor-intensive tasks to countries with lower labor costs. This has resulted in concerns over exploitative working conditions, low wages, and limited workers’ rights in some regions. Critics argue that such practices perpetuate a global divide between those who benefit from the globalized economy and those who bear the brunt of its negative consequences.

To address these concerns, proponents of social justice advocate for policies that promote inclusive growth, such as fair wages, safe working conditions, and opportunities for skill development and career advancement for all workers in the construction sector. Emphasis must also be given to the importance of social safety nets and measures to ensure a fair distribution of economic benefits to mitigate inequalities within the industry.

Surging demands and precarity of workforce 

Economic globalization affects the availability of materials and funding within the construction industry. Globalization has led to the integration of supply chains and increased reliance on international sourcing of construction materials. While this has expanded the range of available materials and introduced cost efficiencies, it has also introduced challenges related to material quality, sustainability, and supply chain disruptions. The industry must navigate complex global networks to ensure a steady supply of materials, often facing uncertainties due to factors such as trade barriers, political instability, or fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

To address some of these challenges, the industry has seen the emergence of strategies such as modularization, which involves the prefabrication and standardization of building components. Modularization allows for greater efficiency, cost control, and flexibility in meeting changing demands. Additionally, the industry has sought to enhance project management techniques and adopt digital technologies to improve communication, coordination, and supply chain management, thus mitigating some of the instabilities associated with economic globalization.

By adopting inclusive practices, ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and equal opportunities for career advancement, the construction industry can contribute to a more just and sustainable global economy. Balancing economic growth with social justice is crucial for creating a construction sector that supports equitable development and addresses the needs of diverse communities.

Reference List

Amiri, A. and Bausman, D. (2018). The Internationalization of Construction Industry -A Global Perspective. [online] pp.59–68. Available at: [Accessed 9 Jun. 2023].

Economic globalisation: Origins and consequences: Read online (no date) oecd. Available at: (Accessed: 09 June 2023). 

‌Forum, W.E. (n.d.). Strategic Intelligence | World Economic Forum. [online] Stategic Intelligence. Available at:

Ngowi, A.B., Pienaar, E., Talukhaba, A. and Mbachu, J. (2005). The globalisation of the construction industry—a review. Building and Environment, [online] 40(1), pp.135–141. doi: (n.d.). Economic Globalisation: Origins and consequences | READ online. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Jun. 2023].

‌Oxford Economics. (2021). Future of Construction. [online] Available at:

Pheng, L.S. and Hou, L.S. (2019). The Economy and the Construction Industry. Construction Quality and the Economy, [online] pp.21–54. doi:

‌Said, R. (2021). Is Globalization Leading To A Homogenized Global Culture?| Countercurrents. [online] CounterCurrents.ORG. Available at:

‌United Nations (2017). New globalization report: Three mega-trends expected to impact our future | UN DESA | United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. [online] UN DESA | United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Available at:


Afnan Ashraf is an artist, architect and an educator. She is the principal architect at TwoPoints ArtLab and a founding member of Coearth Foundation. Afnan excels in developing brand identities, conceptual storylines, and website content. She emphasises on a research based approach fueled through collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.