Globalization: Contents and Discontents

January 15-16, 2019

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


The World Bank Development Research Group based in Kuala Lumpur is organizing its third international conference, with the theme Globalization: Contents and Discontents. The conference aims to bring together policymakers and academics to discuss the consequences of various aspects of globalization including trade, migration, financial flows, cultural exchanges and the diffusion of ideas. 

  • For at least twenty years, scholars have debated the pros and cons of globalization.  Jagdish Bhagwati, Anne Krueger, and others have made compelling arguments in favor of reducing trade and migration barriers to improve economic growth, and to have it more equitably distributed.  The sociologist Saskia Sassen in her 1998 collection of essays Globalization and Its Discontents raised doubts, saying that it resulted in “hyper” mobile capital which has changed the nature of sovereignty and heightened the salience of inequality.  Joseph Stiglitz, in his 2002 book with the same title, critiqued how globalization was managed by international financial institutions and argued for policies that gave greater importance to the interests of individual countries.  The anthropologist Arjun Appadurai has influentially theorized that globalization is a multi-dimensional process that is not just about financial flows and trade but also about cultural flows and the exchange of ideas.  The historian C.A. Bayly borrowed from this perspective to understand how previous waves of globalization led to the Birth of the Modern World.  David Autor and Pinelopi Goldberg are some of the leading representatives of research that employs careful econometric analysis to examine the effects of globalization on macroeconomic conditions, labor markets, and inequality. More recently, Dani Rodrik has reframed the debate as being about “smart globalization” versus “maximum globalization,” an approach that is cognizant of the winners and losers from the powerful forces unleashed by globalization.  

    The goal of this conference is to revisit these and other issues to understand the processes underlying globalization and how they may, or may not, shape a better world.  The conference will be anchored by keynote presentations by noted experts: Shanta Devarajan (Senior Director for Development Economics at the World Bank), William Easterly (Professor of Economics at New York University) and JP Singh (Professor of International Commerce and Policy at Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University). The organizing committee is headed by Norman Loayza and Vijayendra Rao, Lead Economists with the Development Research Group.

  • We welcome empirically grounded research papers by macro and micro-economists, and social scientists from any discipline, that examine the various aspects of globalization (economic, social, political, and cultural), and its consequences. Topics include but are not limited to: Trade, Migration, Financial Flows, Culture, Diffusion of Information, Ideas and Technologies, the History of Globalization, Winners and Losers, Identity and Citizenship, and the Governance of Globalization. 

    All conference costs, including travel, for the presenters of selected papers will be covered. Only completed papers, no longer than 12,000 words, will be considered. The submission deadline is October 15, 2018.

    Submission process is now closed

  • All sessions are streamed live on World Bank Malaysia’s Facebook channel.

    January 15, 2019

    9:00 am – 10:45 am [WATCH LIVE]

    • Welcome: Mara Warwick (Country Director, World Bank)
    • Official Address: Marzunisham Omar (Assistant Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia)
    • Keynote Speech: Shanta Devarajan (Senior Director, World Bank Group): “Has Globalization Gone Too Far—or Not Far Enough?”
    • Award Ceremony: The Sundaran Memorial Prize for Young Malaysian Researchers




    11:00 am – 12:30 pm 
    Session 1: Macroeconomics and Finance [WATCH LIVE]
    Chair: Abigail Tay (Asia School of Business)



    2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
    Session 2: Trade and Welfare [WATCH LIVE]
    Chair: Jomo Kwame Sundaram (Khazanah Research Institute)




    4:00 – 5:30 pm
    Session 3: Social Transformation and Cultural Identity [WATCH LIVE]
    Chair: YB Liew Chin Tong (Deputy Minister of Defense)

    5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

    • Keynote Speech: J.P. Singh (George Mason University): “Global-Local Cultural Distances and Development Practices at UNESCO, WTO, and the World Bank” 
      Chair: Vijayendra Rao (World Bank) 


    January 16, 2019

    9:30 am – 10:30 am

    • Keynote Speech: William Easterly (New York University): “Markets and Development:  Is the Washington Consensus Still Alive?” [WATCH LIVE]
      Chair: Norman Loayza (World Bank)



    11:00 am – 12:30 am
    Session 4: Migration and Labor Markets [WATCH LIVE]
    Chair: Hamdan Majeed (Think City)



    2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
    Session 5: Trade and Innovation [WATCH LIVE]
    Chair: YB Dr. Ong Kian Ming (Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry)                         



    4:00 pm – 6:15 pm
    Session 6: FDI and Innovation [WATCH LIVE]
    Chair: Kenneth Simler (World Bank)


    6:15 – 6:30 pm

    • Closing Remarks: Firas Raad (Country Manager, World Bank Group) [WATCH LIVE]



  • WHEN: Tuesday & Wednesday, January 15-16, 2019; 8:30AM-6:30PM
  • WHERE: The Forum, Level 1, Sasana Kijang, No 2, Jalan Dato' Onn, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, January 9, 2019