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This book is a strong off-field attack on some key assumptions about globalization. It makes a powerful case for Portugal's place as the pioneer in the European phase of globalization. This differed markedly from its predecessor, where ideas were exchanged - e.g in the extensive study tours to India by China's Hieun Tsang in the 7th century, and by the Arabic scholar Alberuni in the 10th century.
Europe, by contrast, did not study and observe, but intervened, trading goods and (mainly military) services, conquering and holding, keeping competitors out, establishing the benchmarks of comparative advantage on its own terms. Such a process was not simply one of personalities and chance, but of systems, technology and finance feeding off one another.
Pioneers of Globalizatioon establishes an objective basis for this Portuguese-inspired phase of European globalization, in terms of long cycles driven by K-waves. It establishes the systemic contours of the current world order. And as the end stages of the latter emerge with China and India's return to global dominance, it offers insights into what such a shift may mean for tomorrow's victors and victims.  

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya,
 author and consultant, India Advisory, Brussels


I have now acquired and am happily reading the book on Portuguese Innovation - quite intellectually refreshing, revealing and insightful. It not only broadens my understanding of Portuguese history but you tie it in to modern day thoughts, vocabulary and mindsets - the "marketing" program to the Pope and modern business concepts. Great job. Lots of fun reading.

Kevin Murphy
 Consultant, Jean Austin


This is an innovative contribution to the global debate about globalization. It makes a cogent − and readable − case for Portugal's pioneering role in the early phase of globalization. It also is an extended test of an evolutionary analysis of that process, which is driven by K-waves and the long cycle of global politics. That understanding, in turn, forms the basis of the future suggestions that completes this successful work

George Modelski
Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Washington


This book represents one of the best treatments of the Portuguese technology utilized in its major contribution to an earlier phase of globalization. The idea of system building is also a contribution. It is one answer to the classical structure-agent problem: the Portuguese set out to build a system. While they may not have fully understood what they were doing, they did create and impose a new partial structure on world politics and the world economy. A third contribution is the long cycles discussion, which demonstrates that these efforts have a temporal shape and are finite. Bluntly put, system builders eventually run out of steam.

William R. Thompson
Rogers Professor of Political Science, Indiana University


A non-nationalistic approach in the revisitation of the developments in the spreading of a 'scientific' mentality among key figures involved in the Portuguese maritime explorations is fundamental if we are to enter into a dialogue with non-Portuguese historians, particularly those recognized as the dominant forces in contemporary historiography. There is indeed much in our 21st century books that is not yet known, or insufficiently known, outside of Portuguese circles, and that deserves its place in the narrative covering the emergence of modern science and technology. Let us hope that this book catches the attention of those who should learn from it.

Onésimo T. Almeida
Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, Brown University


This extremely well-researched and truly globally oriented book is a welcome reminder, especially to the European reader, of the world-system relevance of the Portuguese experience. The "Lisbon Process," initiated in 2000 by the European leaders, gathered at the European Council in Lisbon, aimed at transforming Europe into the leading economy in the world until 2010. Most indicators tell us that Europe will not achieve this ambitious task. This book, written from the very best perspectives of evolutionary world systems theory, shows to us that there are more important things to "worry about" than just the European Constitution, the accession of Turkey, and the further tightening of the external borders of the European Union: the position of Europe in the world system. And indeed, this small country at the far south-western corner of the European continent has an important message.

Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Innsbruck University,
Austria Counselor of the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, Austria



Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues and Tessaleno Devezas have written, Pioneers of Globalization, which has a unique take on the popular globalization theme. Their book combines the theory of the long wave, developed by Russian economist Nikolai Kondratieff, with an intriguing analysis of how Portugal's mastery of ocean navigation contributed to this tiny country's domination of global trading routes from South America to Africa and India.

What is perhaps most intriguing about the Portuguese version of globalization is that although the authors focus on a period 500 to 600 years ago, the Portuguese approach to globalization seems very modern to me. Here are the key elements that the authors articulate:

  • Strategic intent. The authors argue that Portuguese people are proactive when they have "an enterprise to execute."

  • Globalist vocation. Possibly because Portugal is a relatively small country with a limited market and finite natural resources, it chose to overcome these weaknesses with a global outlook.

  • Long-term scientific commitment. Portugal invested in research and development.

  • Knowledge management. Portugal's skills at navigation created knowledge workers who could apply these skills.

  • Looking ahead. Portugal looked beyond the current geostrategic boundaries and battles of the Mediterranean region.

  • Control of asymmetric information. Portugal had a passion for choosing the unknown over the known which gave it an advantage over other nations.

  • Incrementalism. Trial and error and pragmatic correction were the key to Portuguese strategies.

  • Critical attitude. Portugal employed the scientific method that challenged existing dogma with experiments and facts.

  • Geostrategic 'cleverness'. Portugal employed secrecy, counterintelligence, and disinformation to achieve its ends.

  • Organizational improvisation. Portugal employed a mix of improvisation and clear strategic intent to achieve its goals.

Before reading Pioneers of Globalization I had not realized how timeless these strategic principles are. But the authors make a compelling case that Portugal was pioneering them hundreds of years ago.

Peter Cohan


















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