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One significant feature of the second half of the twentieth century has been
the rise of the third world. In 1950, the Fortune 500 list included less than
half a dozen third world firms. Following the end of world war two, in the
favourable circumstances opened up by decolonization and East-West rivalry,
a number of third world countries embarked on their industrial revolutions.
At least a few of these countries, including highly populous ones such as
China and India, would have begun this process a century or so before,
had it not been for colonialism and imperialist domination. In the wholly
altered conditions of the post second world war period, a number of third
world countries, plus Japan that could arguably be regarded as a third world
country at that time, were successful in developing a technical and scientific
infrastructure as well as acquiring organizational and managerial capabilities
and creating efficient (not always large) corporations that began to provide
competition to industrial countries. The net result of this complex process of
industrialization has been that in recent years the Fortune 500 has included
dozens of third world corporations including eleven from South Korea
alone, the same number as Switzerland. It is therefore not entirely surprising
that, unlike the Bretton Woods negotiations in the 1940s, the recent World
Economic Summit to deal with the financial crisis has had significant third
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