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Is the World Flat?

By Fionadeng May 09, 2010 689 Words
Globalization is a big issue in our modern day. What is globalization? Has globalization passed its peak? Is the world flat or spiky? There are several very vocal proponents of an argument that the world has become flat in recent years. However, there are some writers have the opposite opinion. This paper introduces both sides of the debate and presents the arguments for and against the idea that the world has become flat in recent years.

The term “globalization” today refers to the shift in the world economy. It is moving towards a more integrated and interdependent world economy (H.C.W, p.8). Globalization makes people, countries and markets closer.

The world is flat; this view is supported by some people, but the most prominent being Thomas L. Friedman. “It’s a Flat World, After All” is a journal by Friedman which was published in 2005. In this article, Friedman argues the world is "flat" as a result of globalization; it is also a product of a convergence of personal computer and fiber-optic micro cable and software. Globalization has leveled the playing fields between different countries. This is what he called Globalization 3.0 (started around 2000) which quite different from the earlier 2.0 and 1.0 versions (Thomas L. Friedman, 2005). To support the “flat world”, Friedman identities ten flattening factors that he sees as leveling the global playing field.

Thomas Friedman taught us that the world is flat, but is the world really flat? Richard Florida has scorned his arguments. Florida, says that the world is actually spiky. In “The World is Spiky”, published in The Atlantic Monthly in 2005, Florida argues that economic power, innovation, and creative talent is actually only clustered in a few cities and regions, so these areas are growing higher while other areas languish (Richard Florida, 2005) Florida uses a series of maps to prove his argument. He shows where the world’s population centres are and where many of the world’s patents are issued and where the most scientists are located. Florida mentions the share of the world’s population living in urban areas is over 50% world wide now compared to just 3% in 1800. Some big cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Tokyo, Shanghai, around the globe are towers of patent filings, population, and science, but some cities are not. So the ability to innovate and create is only centred among few places in the world (Richard Florida, 2005).

Pankaj Ghemawat, is another writer scorns the argument for the world has become flat. He argued more than ninety percent of the world's phone calls, Web traffic, and investments are still domestic (Ghemawat, 2007). Ghemawat also suggests that Friedman’s assertions are exaggerated visions. He points out that Friedman has grossly exaggerated the significance of the trends he describes: "Despite talk of a new, wired world where information, ideas, money, and people can move around the planet faster than ever before, just a fraction of what we consider globalization actually exists (Ghemawat, 2007)

The issue of if the world has become flat in recent years has divided opinion in two different sides. Proponents of an argument that the world has become flat, like Friedman, believes people are getting closer and all competitors have an equal opportunity. The opposite side, such as Florida and Ghemawat, says otherwise. They think there are peaks and valleys. The peaks are getting stronger and more connected to each other.

Word Count: 613 words



Florida, R. 2005, 'The world is spiky,' Atlantic Monthly (October), pp.48-51.

Friedman, T.L. 2005, 'It’s a flat world, after all', The New York Times Magazine, April 3, pp. 33-37.

Ghemawat, P. 2007, 'Why the world isn't flat,' Foreign Policy (March-April), pp.54-60.

Hill, C and Cronk, T and Wickramasekera, R. ‘Global Business Today’, pp.8


‘The World is Not Flat - It's Spiky’, February 26, 2006, from:

‘Is the World Flat … or Spiky?’ From:

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