Thomas Friedman’s analysis of globalization in the 21st century in his bestselling book; The World is Flat: A Brief History Of The Twenty-First Century is a creative description of how governments and organization’s must stay abreast of technology to remain competitive in a global economy. The title of the book is a metaphor that describes the many forces that are flattening the world. These forces or themes paint a vivid picture of how the business world has transformed with the use of technological advances.
In the first chapter, Friedman explores the ideas of a flattening world by recognizing different eras of globalization. First, he discusses Columbus’ voyage beginning in 1492 where he discovered the world was round. When the book was written, through many interviews and case studies, Friedman describes the new world as flat due to the creation and use of fiber optic networks (Friedman, 2007). Because of these technological advancements, governments, businesses, and individuals can work “closer” even though they are many miles apart.
In contrast, a recent publication written by Florida (2005) presents the flattened world in new light. Florida (2005) suggests that “globalization has changed the economic playing field, but hasn’t leveled it” (p. 48). Florida suggests that population density defines where there is more economic activity (Florida, 2005, p. 48). This theory resonated with me and seems reasonable due to the inconsistency of spikes in different areas of the United States. In central Florida there are several areas that provide avenues for economic production. These areas are typically in bigger cities and rural areas where there is dense population. These spikes are also seen in other parts of the US and the world. Although this makes sense, Florida (2005) does suggests that “unfortunately, no single, comprehensive information source exists for the economic production of all the world’s cities” (p. 49). This will make it very difficult to support this allegation.
Overall, the both authors have valid theories; however, considering the publications were written more than five years ago, things have changed. Technology, especially in the U.S. is changing on a daily basis. Governments and businesses must continuously assess the use of technology to ensure what is being used is right to achieve economic success. Governments and businesses must also protect software and hardware developments that are created within the organization so that other areas of the world or areas within ones own country are not inappropriately using these internal proprietary innovations. This is one way to stay economically competitive.
A recurring theme throughout the first chapter depicts the increase use of foreign and domestic contracting. Outsourcing has become a means for businesses to save money and save time. Although this seems to be a fix for money saving alternatives, it has its downfall. Companies that outsource work to other areas of the world are continuously training and re-training their employees. As technology changes, so does the need to train employees on the new technology. Training is and overhead and costs money. Another downfall is the social responsibility and ethical issues that arise when organizations hire employees from other areas of the world. Ethics, traits, and morals vary between areas of the world, and this could negatively impact the organization.
Florida, R. (2005). The world in numbers: The world is spiky globalization has changed the economic field, but hasn’t leveled it. The Atlantic Monthly
Freidman, T. (2007). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. New York, New York: Picador