Realist emphasize a nationalist and a zero-sum trade, investment, and finance (Nau, 2017). Realist argues that trade policy favors exports over imports and domestic industries over foreign industries (Nau, 2017).  Additionally, realist argues that fiscal policies should limit the dependence of the need for foreign borrowing (Nau, 2017). The realist perspective views the world’s economy primarily regarding security and relative gains (Nau, 2017). Which for a realist means that security relations create a geo-economic balance of trade and determine whether free trade or protectionist policies should be implemented (Nau, 2017). More specifically, realist values export over imports when it comes to trade and that allowing imports can be seen as substituting foreign jobs for domestic jobs (Nau, 2017). When it comes to trade negotiations realist, seek a bilateral or alliance approach because they are wary of security implications (Nau, 2017). The realist perspective sees international investment as a means to gain access to foreign resources and markets while protecting defensive industries from international forces (Nau, 2017). Finally, realist sees immigration in which population is an important ingredient in national power and are reluctant to liberalize stance unless doing so offers a national advantage (Nau, 2017). 

The liberal perspective argues an international and a non-zero-sum trade policy (Nau, 2017). The liberal argues that trade policy should favor the open market. Investment policies that treat industries equally, and fore policy that facilitate global savings (Nau, 2017). Liberal perspective, when it comes to security and economics, highlights the absolute or collective gains more than the relative gains (Nau, 2017). From the liberal perspective, the spread of wealth was beneficial, and more players involved. In the open market the better (Nau, 2017). Unlike the realist perspective, which believes that security leads to international economic ties, the liberal perspective believes that international economic interdependence will lessen the dependence on security (Nau, 2017). Liberals see trade negotiations as the desire to put into place multilateral negotiations which focuses on collective gains that over time reduce security concerns (Nau, 2017). When it comes to international investment, liberals understand the security and economic approach that a nation must ensure but focuses on broader measures to diversify investments and strengthen international rules (Nau, 2017). When it comes to immigration liberals, emphasize the need to align labor skills and economic needs across national boundaries, allowing for a common material benefit (Nau, 2017).

Identity Perspective sees globalization as different then realist perspective or liberal perspective. Identity perspective sees globalization regarding development and climate change (Nau, 2017). Development brings about greater income equality in many parts of the world (Nau, 2017). The identity perspective is concerned about who is doing the development, which ethnic group, religious sect, social class, or nation (Nau, 2017). Identity perspective recognizes that development possesses a negative effect on the environment and thinks that more developed nations bear the responsibility to make technology to counteract the negative effects (Nau, 2017). The identity perspective concedes then that the world is common home and that its resources are to be protective (Nau, 2017). It is for this reason that the concept of identity and justice is important and that wealth disparity should not be ignored (Nau, 2017). Finally, identity perspectives highlight the distinct and shared values of globalization, the more advanced nation can influence developing nations (Nau, 2017).

Outside the three mainstream perspectives, there lies a critical theory perspective which rejects the three main perspectives (Nau, 2017). According to critical theory, the three main perspectives fail to accurately apply the past to future world development (Nau, 2017). The identity perspective argues that if a developing country wants to become modern, they have to adopt Western concepts (Nau, 2017). The realist perspective argues that developing countries can not develop independently because geography and demography do not favor them (Nau, 2017). If these countries want to develop, they have to be reliant on Western nations (Nau, 2017). The liberal perspective argues that developing countries if they want to survive or grow, have to implement Western rules and institutions of specializations, comparative advantage, multinational corporations, and open markets (Nau, 2017). Critical Theory rejects these notions, arguing that the benefit that developed nations enjoy is not a product of internal Western ideas, institutions, or competitions (Nau, 2017). In other words, although the Western model can be a successful model, others can be successful outside that model. Critical Theory argues that the Western model is a consequence of the “systematic external exploitation” of weaker nations (Nau, 2017). Thus, the critical theory argues that globalization is not driven by Western perspective but by a totalistic logic that cannot be controlled or hindered (Nau, 2017). The critical theory perspective argues that cause and effect are not sequential, rather causality can be understood only in a given historical period and the consciousness of the people who understand the realities (Nau, 2017).


Nau, H. (2014). Perspectives on international relations: power, institutions, and ideas. Washington DC: CQ Press.   

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