“The World Is Flat” by Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman proved to be a provocative, yet philosophical book about how the world markets are now evenly competitive due to globalization and thus the world is flat. In this hefty stack of pages Friedman reinforces his argument that global capitalism has formed a hybrid economy. He emphasizes the fact that created an atmosphere that places a premium on communication but cheaply mass produces scholars abroad.
Friedman starts his story by comparing himself to Columbus and just like the explorer he seemed to stumble upon a discovery that really wasn’t a discovery. Through his journeys in Asia and a conversation with Nandan Nilekani the CEO of Infosys he realizes how simple it is to provide services through digital formats. His travels expose him to medical facilities, accounting firms and technical services in India that are supporting enterprises in America. It startled him to see how this practice was allowing companies overseas to provide the West with 24 hour support at minimal cost.
The book heavily revolves around the concept that there are ten key flatteners. The Berlin Wall, Netscape, workflow software, open sourcing, out sourcing, supply chaining, in-sourcing, in-forming and steroids (a technological boost). These tools provided countries like China, India and Russia with the ability to reach new markets from home. Those entities were focusing on their human resources. They specialized in creating educational systems that generated highly qualified individual in large quantities. They were basically saying “we could have a specialist do that for you at one third the price”. Unfortunately it became apparent that it was more efficient to have five employees in China for the cost of one in New York to handle data entry.
“The World Is Flat” has many valid points but it inadequately represents the influence of social disparity and international poverty. The Eastern world is exploiting its citizenry so their quality of life is not any better. Yes, outsourcing has always been a growing concern and ever since the cotton gin companies have sought to cut overhead but the transition did not occur over night. Our educational system needs to be updated and there should be a deeper emphasis on experience.
Even though the United States is a chief pioneer it seems to fall behind on how to apply its resources, relying on importing talent and goods. This dangerous trend is eliminating lower level white collar jobs and relegating other us to sales people with faces. Friedman makes these points but writes this book as a disconnected observer, raising educational and economic concerns but not providing any clear ways to address them. The days of buying “American” are sadly over leaving us with an interdependent globe that requires us to constantly download new drivers if we want to stay ahead.