Globalization of small islands:
the role models of Curac¸ao
The University of The Netherlands Antilles, Curac¸ao, The Netherlands Antilles
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to compare the case of Curac¸ao, as a small island coping with
globalization, with Singapore, Barbados, New Zealand, Ireland, and Aruba and to contribute to the
development of a framework for discussing globalization and economic development strategies for
Design/methodology/approach – The study and the paper follow the inductive line of reasoning,
starting by comparing the current situation of six countries – Singapore, Barbados, New Zealand,
Ireland, Aruba, and Curac¸ao. Next the six countries are placed in their respective social, economic, and
historical contexts. Then the paper explores what Curac¸ao can learn from the other six countries by
applying the framework of spiral dynamics and the eight-stage process for creating major change.
Findings – Curac¸ao can look at other countries and learn a great deal, but Curac¸ao cannot copy the
model of another country and implement it. This is because of the differences between the various
exemplars, particularly in the starting position and the changes that have taken place in the world,
which make the case of Curac¸ao unique. Curac¸ao will have to develop its own model.
Originality/value – The paper contributes to the analysis of globalization of small islands.
Keywords Curac¸ao, Netherlands Antilles, Master plan, Social dialogue, Globalization, Small islands,
Development strategy, Spiral dynamics, Singapore, Barbados, New Zealand, Ireland, Aruba
Paper type Research paper
For more than two decades, Curac¸ao has struggled to adapt to a changing world (Goede,
2008). During this struggle Curac¸ao has looked to other countries such as Singapore
(Martha, 2007), Barbados (Martina, 2008), New Zealand, Ireland, and Aruba for
inspiration. These ﬁve countries are islands, which are in some ways similar to Curac¸ao,
and each has successfully transformed their economy and society From Third World to
First World (Kuan Yew, 2000). The stories of these countries are appealing for people in
Curac¸ao, primarily, because they are small islands that have relatively recently obtained
self government and have achieved a high standard of living for their populations.
There is a belief that these islands were successful, because they executed a master plan
and because they promoted some kind of social dialogue or social partnership.
Aubert and Chen (2008, p. 178) used a broad deﬁnition of island or the island factor:
countries that are surrounded by neighbouring countries that do not speak
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The author wants to thank: Hon. Mrs Ruth Richardson, former Minister of Finance of New Zealand,
for her comments on the section on New Zealand, Dr Timothy White of Xavier University for his
comments on the section on Ireland, Alberto Romero MSc, Director of the Central Bank of The
Netherlands Antilles, for his comments on the section on Curac¸ao, Bonnie Benesh PhD for her
comments on the sections on Singapore and Barbados, Ivan Kuster MSc, Head of the Finance
Department of Curac¸ao, for his feedback, and Michael Sharpe PhD, Assistant Professor of Political
Science at York College of the City University of New York, for his feedback.
International Journal of Commerce
Vol. 21 No. 2, 2011
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited