The time frame in which globalization emerged is subject to different interpretations since it could be argued that human history is in itself a process leading to globalization. The three main perspectives related to the genesis of globalization are:
- Pre Modern. Assumes that globalization was always a driving force but that technical political and socioeconomic constraints impeded its full realization. The setting of empires is illustrative of hegemonic attempts where imperialistic and mercantile systems where established on the bases of exploration, war (plunder and tribute), and trade. Although long-distance mobility was limited, entities such as the Roman Empire, the Mongolian Empire or Imperial China are considered early forms of globalization. With the age of exploration that began in the 15th century and thereafter the setting of large colonial empires spanning the globe (e.g. English, French, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese Empires) represents the utmost expression of this form of globalization. For instance, the colonization of the Americas led to significant influxes of gold and silver in the European market late 16th and early 17th centuries.
- Modern Age. Assumes that globalization took an early operational form with the setting of powerful nation-states, each controlling, formally or informally, dependent territories. The industrial revolution permitted the development and expansion of capitalism, particularly through mass production and consumption. Mechanized forms of transportation started to emerge, improving the capacity and efficiency of international trade. This process accelerated in the late 19th century, particularly after the Berlin Conference of 1884 that marked the partition of Africa among colonial powers.
- Post-Modern (Contemporary). Assumes that globalization only took its true form after World War II as capitalism, multinational corporations, and processes of trade liberalization became important driving forces. The end of the colonial era supported the emergence of trade relations more based upon comparative advantages than political imperatives. The setting of economic blocs, notably free trade agreements, is illustrative of a new transnational dynamics based on collaboration. Modern forms of transportation and telecommunications permitted the true realization of an integrated and interdependent global economy, particularly through containerization and the setting of global air transport networks. The Fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of China in the 1990s permitted the entry of large economic regions into the system of global trade and resulted in a surge of international transactions.