The Progress and Effects of Globalization in Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the book “The World if Flat” by Thomas Friedman, it shows the process of the world ending up in a leveled economy. The first chapter explains the ten factors which helped the flattening process. The heading of the chapter, “While I was Sleeping” is a depiction that all these flattening factors worked while the most of the world never noticed it. The chapter starts with an interesting comparison of the author’s visit India’s Silicon Valley in Bangalore, with the discovery of America by Columbus. While Columbus accidentally ran into America thinking that he had discovered India, the author thought that many of the people he met in Bangalore were Americans. By this he means the acceptance of technology, business techniques and even culture from a corner of the world by people from another corner of the world. With this finding the author asserts that the World if Flat. Later in the chapter Friedman defines the ten historic developments pertaining to history and technology which defined the flattening process of the world. It included; the fall of the Berlin wall; Netscape going public; the development of work flow software; the start of open sourcing; outsourcing; offshoring; supply-chaining; insourcing; in-forming; and the development of digital, mobile, personal and virtual technologies.

In the next chapter titled ‘America and the Flat World’, the performance of America in the flattened economy has been well described. The way free trade in the flattened economy was going to affect America has been largely discussed in this chapter. Here the writer tries to answer the question whether David Ricardo, the English economist was still right on his free trade theory of competitive advantage in the flattened world scenario. The author compares the scenarios in the trade of the flattened world with Ricardo’s theory which stipulates that “if each nation specializes in the production of goods in which it has a comparative cost advantage and then trades with another nation for the goods in which they specialize, there will be an overall gain the trade, and overall income level should rise in each trading country”. In light of this theory Friedman has assessed the status of America as a trading nation. Similar to this, theories has been effectively used all through the book to support the viewpoints. Along with the analysis of the current scenarios, the writer urges the American generation to upgrade their skills and to be ready to utilize the enormous opportunities offered by the flattened world. The immense competition that America could face as because of global flattening is also explained. Friedman calls this the “Quiet Crisis”.

Friedman predicted that the Quiet Crisis will lead America to fall behind in many areas such as science, technology and innovation. Friedman pointed out several problems of the science field of America. Since a majority of American scientists are on the older side rather than the younger side, there will be a lack of scientists when a great portion of old scientists starts to retire. However, there are minimal growth in math and science scores of young students in this country, compared to those of other foreign countries. This shows how the reduction of funding for the scientific education that the congress made largely impacted the overall society’s awareness on science. These structural weaknesses can trigger a failure of America in the flattened world, and eventually causes negative impact on many aspects such as economics, demographics, politics, social, and cultural aspects. And now Friedman tells us that it is time to wake up and realize this intensity and the severity of this crisis before it is too late. One noticeable point is that Friedman showed the various aspects of the problem in a several different angles. A failure of an organization never comes from a single mistake. The accumulation of several mistakes such as low funding for education, age gap between the generations, low awareness of the people and less investment for the companies, overall creates the huge failure that is hard to recover from.

On the other hand, Friedman considers the increased capacity of the developed countries to utilize more resources as a product of the flattened world. The author has suggested some interesting rules and strategies to be followed by companies so as to turn global. One of the most important keyword Friedman introduced is “Glocalization”. Glocalization is the bringing of the new global standards and incorporating it into the people in the local areas. In local areas, culture plays a large part in the way you live. Culture defines a group of people, but an overdose of culture can hinder a country from changing and adapting. Culture has to be modified and changed in order to bring better services in the local areas. Globalization of the local is the usage of the global tools and technologies to incorporate your culture and preferences into. They use the new gadgets to create something that they can already relate to. If glocalization is not appropriately done, the business cannot be successful as the people cannot relate themselves with the business.

In the chapter titled “The Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention”, Friedman uses his Dell laptop as an analogy to explain the notion of the “supply-chain”. The main goal of this notion is to address some of the geopolitical conflicts that have the potentiality to slow globalization. He tells that supply chaining, which permits Walmart to be the biggest retail chain in the world, even though Walmart doesn’t produce anything. Walmart simply offers supply chain. Insourcing, meanwhile, takes Friedman to UPS, where UPS engineers come right up to the neck in one company; study its manufacturing, packaging, and delivery processes; and then plan, remodel, restructure and manage your global supply chain. The conclusion of this insourcing is that some companies no longer touch their products. He then goes on and provides an insight into Toshiba process; Toshiba no longer even sees their products once it leaves the warehouse. If there is any issue with the product, the product gets shipped to UPS hub, where UPS workers fix it. Friedman then talks about another visit, where he learned that Dalian, China is the hub for Japan, where Japanese speaking Chinese men and women provide services to Japan – another outsourcing central. Thomas Friedman claims that the champions / front runners will be those who learns the new skill set in the ever-changing technology world. A quick learning mindset, processes allows India and China to be the front runners of IT industries and there is nothing that assurances it will be Europeans and American forever leading the way.

Here Friedman points out a very important idea. He states that if two countries are heavily invested in a business by being part of the same global supply-chain are less likely to go to war. Any external force or interruption to this global supply-chain will be devastating. However this supply-chain just like anything in our world could and is abused. Friedman for example mentioned Al-Qaeda and how did they use this supply-chain for destruction purposes instead of the common good. Supply-chain is not solely related to economy instead it is a broader term. We must use the Supply-chain for the common good instead of destruction. According to definition “A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.” There are many parties involved and here we can see the importance of this notion. And how can we use it for the common good, collaboration and protection; instead of abusing it for destruction purposes such as what Al-Qaeda does. Friedman ends by this statement: “We must examine our abilities to derail the nuclear threat by using our capabilities to disrupt the terrorists supply chain.”

While reading the book, the real question may arise: Is the world really is flat? Organization can subcontract work to China, India or other Asian countries to obtain cheaper labor proves the world is not flat. Multinational Organization that go the ends of the earth to abuse cheap labor, and tax breaks. If the world were truly flat, wouldn’t all the employees whether they are in America or employees in China, India or Russia, all be paid same? The true flat world means the world in which wage gaps drops and fortune are evenly dispersed. But, Friedman instead sees a world where the chance to achieve wealth is evenly circulated, but wealth itself is not. Moreover, it is not proper to link the opportunities of the millions born into famine and poverty with children from the first or third world leaders, another evidence that proves the world is not flat. However, Friedman’s drastic comparison on 9/11 and 11/9 shows his point. Even the world is not flat, it is true that the world has granted us a huge access to another countries, culture, and people. Regardless of the amount of access that we have, it is important to utilize the right within a humane region. We can help this world to have a better imagination and positively affect the imaginations of those who would use the tools of the flat world. So, Freidman is essentially stating that with globalization come two types of imagination, a positive and a negative imagination. And we have the free will, to either choose the positive imagination to achieve a world class economy for the common good or to choose the negative imagination that will be negatively used to destroy our world as Bin Laden did.


Read more