Analysis of Globalization

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. 

 

 

References

 

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

 

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9 comments
  1. You mention how businesses and governments have to protect their software and hardware how do you think the recent reports of the Chinese government hacking into U.S. businesses websites relates to Florida or Friedman? I think it would relate more to Friedman’s work since they are trying to take ideas and improve innovation flatting the arena.

    • Peter Kramer said:

      Wouldn’t it be both? They are using the Florida model to go after the spikes (where the intellectual property is) in an attempt to flatten the technology race by eliminating competitive advantages.

    • bwatwood said:

      Interesting point, but I see the Chinese hacking as less “building on to improve” as it is looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. I am all for an open and shared world…but ethics and values still underlie what I do.

      And long story short, I had to shut down my PayPal account last week because it had been hacked by Iran. No money lost, though they did try and buy $99 of electronics without my permission.

  2. bwatwood said:

    Nice post, Kelly. You hit on one of the themes in this course – the rapidly evolving technology landscape in which we work and lead…and the need to stay current. This is no longer the responsibility of some IT person, but rather a personal responsibility that we all have.

  3. Technology has changed significantly since Friedman and Florida initially published their ideas, and I agree that both theories are less applicable now than when they appeared in 2005. To a large degree, the technology changes that we’ve seen since 2005 have favored the individual – free or low-cost web applications and hardware devices allow billions of people to read, see, and transmit data that they couldn’t even access a decade before. From Skype to communicate, MOOCs to learn, Twitter & Facebook to access and transmit real-time data, and the variety of applications Google has introduced in the recent past, individuals have access to many of the same tools businesses use to succeed. I see this as working to flatten the playing field for entrepreneurs and small enterprises that can use massively powerful tools or take advantage of existing platforms to introduce new ideas quickly and efficiently. This flattening is just as important as the flattening Friedman stated was occurring between developed and developing places and ultimately, I believe the increased power of the individual will have an outsized impact on productivity and innovation in both the developing and developed worlds. With computing and communication power comparatively cheaper than ever, individuals will be able to compete on a global scale and bypass traditional hurdles to innovation. This is a positive effect of some incredible platforms that were introduced in the recent past, and I don’t believe Friedman or Florida’s theories accounted for the rise of social, open, and other new technologies.

    Florida, R. (2005, October). The World is Spiky. The Atlantic Monthly, 48-51.

    Friedman, T. (2007). The World is Flat (3rd ed.) New York: Picador.

  4. Hello Timothy, thank you for your response post. You’ve mentioned some very valid points when discussing Friedman and Florida’s ideas about how technology works in a global world. Specifically, you point out that there has been an increase in technology-based applications used to transmit information around the world. To extend your point, I would like to add that in a recent article of ENR (Engineering News-Record), organizations that design and construct buildings all over the globe are using tools to help their productivity on the job site. For example, the construction industry uses punch-lists to ensure their tasks are getting done according to their schedule. Now, Foyce (2012) concludes that organizations of construction are able to communicate and collaborate across the globe with the use of cloud-based digital tools (p. 22). Moreover, when the job is finished, software engineers are getting closer to providing an app that will allow contractors to “handoff” the building and its manuals when the job is done (Foyce, 2012, p. 22). This will move the process from a paper-driven method to a 3D digital one.

    Reference:

    Foyce, E. (2013, March). Cloud-Based Tools Seen as Driver of Digital O&M Handoff. 270(7), 22.

    • bwatwood said:

      Tim and Kelly, perfect examples of the changes we leaders need to tuned to. Good stuff! 🙂

  5. Kelly,

    You touch upon corporate espionage, possibly state sponsored forms of it, and the challenge of protecting intellectual property (IP) rights in a globally interconnected world. Laws for IP and infringement recourse vary widely, and are a very long way from standardization. This has been an important problem for the music industry over the past decade with the advent of digitization of music. This lack of legal congruence and the subsequent enforcement capability is definitely a leadership challenge for any entity operating in the new G3 paradigm. Additionally, online security, as we know, is very critical and one of the top challenges for the current administration to address. However, as Friedman implicitly describes, physical security of these innovation centers is something that should not be overlooked. Terrorists no longer have to have the capability to inflict damage within the boundaries of European or North American countries. Instead, technology has flattened commerce while also dispersing impactful economic touch points. Could taking key innovation centers in Asia offline disrupt world financial markets?

    Tony

  6. You make some very valid point Kelly. I find it interesting that Friedman, makes a comparison of his voyage to India like Christopher Columbus’ voyayge to the New World. Like Columbus Friedman makes the mistake of looking through globalization through a narrow lens without considering the cultural likeness, demographic similarity innovative spirit and desire to achieve academic knowledge and financial freedoms as the Indians do. He goes on to name numerous peaks throughout the world that have achieved similar success as America without considering the countries where such opportunities are extremely rare. I think Friedman missing the mark on this one.

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