Category: Globalization

How the Basque Country provides intriguing solutions to some of the world’s thorniest challenges

 

The Democratic Party’s Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took inspiration from Denmark when he proposed a 60 percent income tax increase in exchange for public services. However, American voters apparently did not welcome a candidate who wanted to increase taxes. Had Mr. Sanders taken inspiration from the Basque Autonomous Government instead of northern Europe, he may have had a better chance of gaining support from American voters.

The Basque Country, with a total population of 2.2 million, is the richest and most advanced economic region in Spain. According to an article by Sami Mahroum in the National, “it is among Europe’s top 20 percent of regions in wealth.”It also has the highest percentage of employment for medium to high-tech manufacturers in Europe. Many regard the Basque Country as a robust competitor to the advanced manufacturing regions in Germany. However, the greatest achievement of the Basque Country is how it has overcome local terrorism, globalization, and leadership challenges rather smoothly compared to both the Spanish state and the European Union.

Mr. Sanders could have also learned from the Basque Cooperative economic model. 60 years ago, Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta formed the Mondragon federation of cooperatives. Today, Mondragon is Spain’s largest cooperative group, providing employment for more than 75,000 people and contributing 12 percent of the region’s GDP. Mondragon owns subsidiaries in 125 countries around the world. The Mondragon cooperative model is unique, as it has a cap on the CEO’s salary, limiting it to six times the lowest salary offered at the cooperative. Employees put aside 6.5 percent of their earnings toward a foresighted fund as a part of their pensions and contingencies.

The Basque Country’s unique cooperative model provides an inspiration in innovation for the world’s poverty and inequality issues. This model echoes the sentiments of American voters well, who are dissatisfied with globalization, rambling capitalism, big government, and high taxes. The Mondragon model serves as a mutual-capitalism or democratic capitalism model rather than the “invisible hand.”

For further reading: https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/how-the-basque-country-provides-intriguing-solutions-to-some-of-the-world-s-thorniest-challenges-1.623572

Basque Global Network: New Initiative to Connect Basques Worldwide

The Basque Global Network is a new Basque government initiative based around the idea of a virtual meeting place for anyone connected in some way to, or just interested in, the Basque Country and Basque culture. This is a platform that has been created with the aim of encouraging cooperation and the exchange of information on all things Basque, whether in the Basque Country itself or among the Basque diaspora throughout the world. This is exactly the kind of initiative that we here at the Center applaud and we encourage you all to get involved. To get involved in the Basque Global Network, click here to sign up.     

Don’t forget, we have a whole series of books, our Diaspora and Migration Studies collection, which address the global impact of Basque culture. You may also be interested in Juan Jose Ibarretxe’s The Basque Experience: Constructing Sustainable Human Development, a fascinating look at how such groundbreaking global cooperation initiatives are central to efforts to promote sustainable human development in the Basque Country and beyond.

A busy summer for Joseba Zulaika

The Center’s Joseba Zulaika has had a busy summer already! On June 16, he presented a paper at the symposium Law and Image II: Representing the Nation-State, at Birkbeck, University of London. Zulaika’s talk was titled “Images, Fantasy, and the Law: The Limits of the Nation-State and the Manufacturing of Terror.”

He then took part in a conference organized through the University of the Basque Country summer school. Held June 29-July 1 and titled “On Twenty-first Century Nationalism,” the conference attempted to answer some of the questions surrounding the meaning of nationalism in general, and Basque nationalism in particular, in the age of globalization and political and economic integration. Zulaika gave a presentation titled “From the Big World to the Small World and Back Again.” See a video of the presentation here.

What’s more, Zulaika also recently published an interesting online article, “A Tale of Two Museums,” for the journal Anthropology News.  In the article Zulaika explores the central role played by two museums–San Telmo in Donostia-San Sebastián and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao–in rethinking the Basque Country in the twenty-first century. Read the full article here.

Check out another Basque-themed article in the same journal, this time on the topic of Basque food: “A Taste of the Basque Country,” by Nikki Gorrell from the College of Western Idaho, discusses the importance of the pintxo or Basque finger-food in Basque culture as a whole. Check out the full article here.

 

Boise and Bilbao: Two Boomtowns

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A recent report by the Idaho Statesman looks at the links between two boomtowns, Boise and Bilbao. The visit of a Basque delegation, led by Basque President Iñigo Urkullu, to Idaho last year enhanced the historic connection between the two regions. There have been economic ties between the city of Boise and the Basque Country since the nineteenth century, when the burgeoning sheep industry in Idaho increased the need for talented sheepherders from the Basque Country. A century later, these connections were still evident through cultural events such as the Basque Soccer Friendly and Jaialdi in 2016, celebrating the Basque heritage and culture. These events only served to take the exisitng economic and cultural exchange to new heights.
Bilbao. Pasarela del Campo de Volant’n o Zubizuri y las torres P

This year, a business delegation from the Basque province of Bizkaia visited Boise to renew the economic and cultural partnership between Boise and Bilbao. According to Asier Alea Castaños, General Manager of Trade Promotion for the Bizkaian Government, at present over a million people reside in Greater Bilbao with a GDP per capita reaching 122 percent of the European Union (EU) average. Bizkaia’s economic competitive advantage is backed by higher education institutions that rank higher than the rest of Europe in terms of research and development. And this Bizkaian economic and technological edge, coupled with the existing links between the two cities, provides the Boise business community with huge opportunities.
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Boise has itself experienced technological booms in recent years with high-tech projects such as Trailgead poised to attract investment from the Basque Country. With a cost of doing business only one-third of that in California or Washington, Boise can be an attractive investment option for Basque investors.

Boise has extensive business clusters in software, environmental technology, advanced energy, hi-tech manufacturing, hardware assembly, national call centers, and agricultural technology. And Boise’s comprehensive business cluster complements that of some of the main industries in and around Bilbao such as the aeronautic, automotive, electronic, information technology, energy, and maritime sectors. It would appear, then, that there are multiple opportunities for new links to be developed between these two Basque boomtowns.

Read the full article here.

The Center has published several books on the Basque economy. For a general introduction, see Basque Economy from Industrialization to Globalization by Mikel Uranga, free to download here.

Tow other works address innovation policies in the Basque Country:

Implications of Current Research on Social Innovation in the Basque Country, edited by Ander Gurrutxaga Abad and Antonio Rivera, free to download here.

And Innovation: Economic, Social, and Cultural Aspects, edited by Mikel Gómez Uranga and Juan Carlos Miguel de Bustos, available free to download here.

For some general historical background on the particular tax and finance system that so defines the particularity of the Basque Country, see Basque Fiscal Systems: History, Current Status, and Future Perspectives, edited by Joseba Agirreazkuenaga and Eduardo Alonso Olea.

Another key feature of the Basque economy in recent years has been its urban transformation. This process is examined in Transforming Cities: Opportunities and Challenges of Urban Regeneration in the Basque Country, edited by Arantxa Rodríguez and Joseba Juaristi.

And for a wonderful monograph of one of the most controversial economic issues in the Basque Country today, namely the plans for a new high-speed rail network to create a single interconnected “Basque city,” check out Building the Basque City: The Political Economy of Nation-Building, by Nagore Calvo Mendizabal.

 

Basque Government signs partnership agreement with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

A groundbreaking agreement, based on the exchange of information, research, and ideas, was signed last week, April 28th, between the Basque government and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

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The four industrial revolutions. Image by Christoph Roser at AllAboutLean.com. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The agreement establishes a partnership that provides for several cooperative activities. For example, the participants may develop education and training resources, share research and best practices, and develop exchange opportunities for apprentices. A partnership between the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities eight Centers of Excellence (which promote connectivity between industry and our colleges and universities) and the Basque Centre for Investigation and Applied Innovation in Vocational and Educational Training (Tknika, which is a center of innovation and applied research funded by the Basque Government) will establish opportunities for collaborative research and professional development. Other avenues of cooperation described in the agreement include exchanges of non-confidential academic material, as well as government, business, and industry delegations, and exchanging information about vocational education and training systems.

The agreement is part of a general shift toward what many people consider Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution, which involves data exchange as well as technologies and concepts of value chain organization.

See a full report on the agreement here.

For an introduction to the Basque economy, see Basque Economy: From Industrialization to Globalization, by Mikel Gómez Uranga, free to download here.

Check out, too, a couple of other Center publications that specifically address the transformation of the modern economy to more knowledge- and innovation-based societies: on knowledge as a commodity to be developed, exchanged, and marketed, see see Knowledge Communities, edited by Javier Echeverria, Andoni Alonso, and Pedro J. Oiarzabal; and on the multiple (and sometimes surprising) ways in which we can think about innovation, see Innovation and Values by Javier Echeverria.

Flashback Friday: The Return of Urdaneta

On June 26, 1536, Andres de Urdaneta (1508-1568), a Basque explorer from Ordizia (Gipuzkoa), dropped anchor at the port of Lisbon, Portugal, after a long transoceanic voyage. Eleven years before, in 1525, the Spanish Emperor Carlos V had sent this expedition headed by García Jofre de Loaísa to colonize the Maluku Islands or Moluccas (in present-day Indonesia) against his rival, the Crown of Portugal. The expedition included seven vessels. Urdaneta took to sea at an early age on the ship Sancti Spiritus under the command of Juan Sebastian Elkano. Most of the men in this expedition, including Elkano, died. Only one vessel reached the Moluccas. Among the survivors was Urdaneta himself who, after arriving in those archipelagos, lived there for nine years side-by-side the native people and Portuguese settlers, later returning to the old world. Andres de Urdaneta’s story illustrates the dynamics of Basque explorers and their place in early modern transoceanic imperialism.

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Iconic portrait of Andres de Urdaneta

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A map of the Moluccas, 1640

Check out anthropologist William Douglass’ new book Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, which will give you the whole picture of this and other stories.

Taking Cooperative Solutions to the Next Level

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Cooperatives at the grassroots level have played a significant role in providing solutions to many of the social problems in society, from supplying the growing population of the world with foodstuffs to supporting local business in the competitive and globalized market. However, the crucial challenge that most cooperatives must face today is how to cooperate with each other to address the major common challenges related to sustainability and global competition. Therefore, the next revolutionary vision in the cooperative movement should bring cooperatives together at a global level to solve global challenges.  Cooperation among cooperatives is crucial to the continuity of the cooperative movement in the globalized era. Globalized consumers are pampered with more product and service choices from around the world. Hence, cooperatives can no longer expect members and communities to support them simply because they are a cooperative. Cooperatives can only survive if they can provide better quality products and services than their competitors.

Some discussion regarding cooperative solutions can be found in the following readings:

http://www.thenews.coop/90883/news/general/taking-co-operative-solutions-to-the-next-level/

** Horohito Norhatan is a graduate student at the Center who is interested in cooperatives and is sharing with us a series of articles on his favorite research topic, cooperatives, Horohito received his M.L.S. in political leadership and public services from Fort Hays State University. His research focuses on cooperative movement, economic democracy, political economics, and development policy. In his graduate thesis, “Cooperative Impacts on Poverty Eradication in Indonesia,” he investigated the impact that Indonesian cooperative organizations had in reducing the poverty rate, generating community wealth, and increasing the regional gross domestic product. Under the guidance of Dr. Xabier Irujo, Horohito is conducting research related to Basque cooperative organizations and their impact on the development of the Basque economy.