World Is Flat: A Brief History Book Report

Pages: 7 (2218 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Economics

World is Flat: a Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, New York Times columnist discusses the impact that globalization has had on the world economy. However, Friedman does not discuss the increasing interlock of local economies with the global economy as globalization. Globalization implies an increase in breadth and depth to the worldwide economic system. While that has occurred, Friedman focuses on the other side of globalization which is the shrinking of the world economy. Rather than becoming more diverse, globalization has actually led to a decrease in diversification for the global economy. This is because the world is now united by common elements, which has resulted in the linking of even remote local economies with the broader global economy. Friedman begins his book by discussing how the economy became global, including the timespan for that change. He talks about the changes that he considers pivotal in flattening the earth and how they were responsible for changing the structure of the economy. Friedman discusses America's role in the new economy, as well as discussing the roles of emerging powers such as India and China. He discusses the rules for the new economy, and how, while some may decry the changes brought by them, outsourcing is almost inevitable. Furthermore, Friedman takes the position that outsourcing should be embraced and that America needs to rebrand and change its mindset from manufacturing and production more and shift it towards the idea of selling the idea of America to the rest of the world. However, Friedman's most important contribution may be his discussion of how globalization has helped encourage the rise of radical Islam.

Summary

TOPIC: Book Report on World Is Flat: A Brief History of Assignment

Friedman begins his book with a trip to India. He uses the obvious comparison of his trip to India and Columbus's planned voyage to India in which he discovered the New World and was able to provide proof that the world was actually round, not flat. Given the title of the book, this comparison is very interesting; because Friedman's whole argument is that the new economy is collapsing the globe in the same way that Columbus's discovery broadened the globe. Friedman says that he first came to this realization when visiting an office in India. At this office, the way that the local office could communicate with locations anywhere made it clear to Friedman that intellectual work and intellectual capital could be distributed from anywhere to anywhere (2007, p.7). This means that the world is moving to a time and place where actual physical resources will not be the predominant means of determining wealth or poverty; resources have also been mobile and technology has created a world in which ideas are much more mobile as well.

In chapter two, Friedman discusses the factors that have led to the flattening of the world. Chapter two may be the most critical part of the book, because it underlines Friedman's entire argument about how globalization is impacting the world's economy. Friedman believes that ten flatteners helped shape the emerging global economy. However, these ten things were not discrete events, but combinations of events that Friedman links together to demonstrate major changes in how the world communicates.

The first of those things Friedman refers to as a new age of creativity. He marks the end of 1989 as the beginning of this new age of creativity. The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. Friedman's focus on this event was not the end of the Cold War, per se, but the fact that the fall of the Wall meant that the Soviets had the opportunity to participate in the global economy. It also signaled a shift in global economic thought. Prior to the fall of the former Soviet Union, there were two superpowers in the world; one with a market-driven economy and the other a communist country. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the vast majority of the world began to operate some type of market-driven economy. The idea of the free market, which is driven by consumer demands and available supply, plays a huge role in today's global economy.

Furthermore, Friedman points to the release of Windows 3.0 as an important element in linking the world, because the operating system's ease of use helped make the personal computer popular. He pairs the release of Windows with the fall of the wall together. Without the rise of the personal computer, it is unlikely that there would be any global economy. The second factor that Friedman considers critical in creating the global economy is the creation of the internet. The web existed before the 1990s, but it was not being used by the general public. However, changes in the structure of the Internet made it much more user friendly. Friedman indicates that the release of Netscape was a pivotal change. Netscape created the web as it is known today. Even more significantly, it was compatible for all operating systems. This connected individual computer users in a way that simply was not possible before Netscape was released. Friedman also credits the public sale of Netscape stock as the beginning of the dot.com bubble. The third factor that Friedman believes is a flattener was the release of work flow software, which made it possible for workers in different areas to collaborate on projects. Combined together these three elements show how the Internet helped connect the world, paving the way for a more global economy.

The fourth flattener that Friedman discusses is the uploading of information. Prior to the creation of the Internet, the different forms of media really controlled information access. However, the Internet made it possible for the everyday person to contribute to the global conversation. First, everyday people could write software, helping literally shape the face of the Internet. In addition, through public use forums like blogs, people could report and comment on news, and be assured of publication, even if they could not be assured of a certain audience. The ninth flattener returns to the world of the Internet. Never before in the history of the world has information access been as easy as it is in the modern world, and it becomes easier everyday. The Internet allows people to access a wide variety of information, including personal information about individuals. It is a flattener because people have equal access to this information, regardless of their native language or country.

After looking at the impact of the Internet on the globe, Friedman examines how the workplace began to change. For most of the 1900s, the United States was a center of both manufacturing and innovation. This helped create the American middle class and establish the United States as an economic superpower. However, where jobs were located really began to change in the very last part of the 20th century. First, many companies began to outsource, which means that they hired other companies to do work that was previously done in-house. While outsourcing was initially limited to low-level services, it eventually became common for companies to outsource a wide variety of labor. Furthermore, many of these outsourced jobs went to foreign corporations, because they could provide cheaper labor. As the world became connected by the Internet, companies could do these jobs as long as they could be connected to the parent company. India was the country for outsourcing because it had a highly educated population, great broadband capabilities, and a huge population of English speakers. Another factor that helped transfer jobs outside of the United States was offshoring, where a company moves its production to other countries. They do this because other countries have cheaper labor due to a combination of factors such as lower minimum wages and lower safety standards. China was the destination for most of this offshoring, and, once offshoring began it created a domino effect. Manufacturing in China is so much cheaper than manufacturing in the United States that once companies had to move production to remain economically competitive. While moving menial labor to China may not seem to be that major of a concern, Friedman warns that, as China becomes educationally competitive, skilled positions will feel the same impact that unskilled positions have already felt.

The seventh flattener addressed by Friedman is supply-chaining. Big box stores, most notably Wal-Mart, have increase their connections between supplier, retailer, and customer. Suppliers find out about supply, allowing their manufacturing to match demand, This means that a supplier, which is probably located in China, can find out about demand immediately and not be left with an excess of product that it is unable to sell. Furthermore, these big box stores have also mastered the art of distribution, which makes it easier for Wal-Mart to immediately respond to changes in supply and demand. Of course, Friedman points out that Wal-Mart places such a tremendous emphasis on lowering cost that employees suffer as a result. Wal-Mart saves consumers money and makes a very good profit for investors, but raises moral and ethical questions for many shoppers.

While outsourcing moved jobs outside of the country,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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