The concept of globalization, being a relatively new one, has been remarkably fast is acquiring some distinctive features that are thought to distinguish it. The notion of a cultural globalization is just one aspect of the bigger concept and, as any other one, is susceptible to overgeneralizations and misrepresentation. The case of McDonald’s in Hong Kong is a bright example of how the principles of cultural globalizations are being challenged in the real life.
McDonald’s in Hong Kong has gone through a peculiar development process that involved both strict following of the corporate rules and adjustment to local needs. As a result, McDonalds is not currently seen as a branch of a foreign corporation but rather as a local place. The author of the article specifically uses the phrase “the transnational is the local” to illustrate this point (Watson, 1997). He argues that while McDonald’s may have been seen as something foreign when it was first introduced it became more and more internalized as generations changed. Eventually, modern young people view it as a part of their own culture and associate it with a meeting place rather than Americanized food chain (Watson, 1997). This current perception presents a problem for a globalization theory, which asserts that local cultures become undermined because of the introduction of trans-cultural ideas, thoughts, and behaviors. In the cultural globalization theory, the transnational units are devoid of local spirit and characteristics; they do not reflect the values and beliefs of the local communities. However, Hong Kong case highlights that the fast food restaurant displays traditional features and behavioral patterns of the local people, such as hovering for tables or unlimited table occupation time.
To summarize, McDonald’s experience in Hong Kong shows both the alignment with classical globalization principles but also the challenge of some theoretical aspects. This example once again stresses out the importance of a critical approach to assumptions people have about the globalization and its effects on the local societies.