Japanese McDonald’s sign, 1975

In 1971 McDonald’s expanded to Japan. Some people worried that American brands endangered local traditions. Others argued that successful brands adapted to local culture.

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In a globalized economy, innovative ideas as well as products flowed easily across national borders. Businesses became dispersed, as decision-making, financing, design, labor, production, and marketing spread to many locations. Global trade improved opportunity for many, was disastrous for some, and challenged local cultures and customs.

Coca-Cola can, 1999

Coca-Cola is the world’s most recognized brand. Some drank it to be hip; others rejected it as American imperialism; many just liked the taste.

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Cola Turka can, 2012

In 2003, Turkish food manufacturer Ülker introduced Cola Turka, challenging Coca-Cola’s 57 percent share of the Turkish drink market with a message of “positive nationalism.”

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Glass paperweight, 2001

Knickknacks remind senior managers to “think globally.” This paperweight, recovered from the debris of the World Trade Center, is a symbol of globalization gone wrong.

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Autoworker’s handmade book, about 1989

Fearing Japanese gains in automobile sales, GM joined Toyota in a California joint venture names NUMMI. GM executives learned and imported Japanese management techniques, including teamwork and worker-led improvement.

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Autoworker’s hat, about 1989

Radio Shack calculator, early 1980s

Consumers had trouble identifying where products were made during the Global Era. Designed in one country, components and sub-assemblies were manufactured in numerous countries.

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Screenshot of the Global Era digital labels interactive displayWould you like to learn even more about these objects and other related stories? Click on the screenshot above to open an interactive display in a new window.