the world is flat

Topics: Globalization, The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman Pages: 13 (3894 words) Published: February 13, 2014
In his book, The World is Flat, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman argues that globalization and its technological advances have increasingly “flattened” the world by reducing barriers among states, individuals and corporations, and by creating more and more economic interdependence and global integration. This process is not a new one. It began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America and opened up trade between the old world and the new world, and developed throughout three main stages: 1492 to 1800, 1800 to 2000, and 2000 to the present day. However, it has only been in the third stage - the present era - that globalization has brought about considerable changes at an unprecedented speed.

Globalization is presented as an increasingly free flow of readily available technology, ideas, markets, and people. Friedman argues that global integration has reached unparalleled levels, which have enabled countries like China, India and Russia to develop the fastest growing economies in the world. The speed at which these changes are occurring fosters creativity and imagination, and requires individuals, as well as countries and companies, to continuously reinvent and adapt themselves. The opening of markets has led to the availability of cheaper labor. Therefore, creativity, adaptability and imagination are essential for the continued development of individuals, companies and countries. Friedman argues that countries like China, India and Russia are taking full advantage of the tools of globalization, which is why they are so successful in the global era. America, on the contrary, is not adapting to these fast changes. In order to maintain US leadership in the current stage of globalization, America and its citizens have to invest more in the technological, engineering and scientific sectors, because they are keys to economic growth in the present era.

Friedman sees globalization as a positive phenomenon, because of the opportunities that it offers to a wider range of people. However, he recognizes that events like the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 resulted from the misuse of the very technological tools that globalization makes available to everyone. Since trust is a fundamental factor that boosts global integration, the loss of it may hamper the integrating forces created by globalization.

Friedman presents his arguments on globalization under four
main headings:
1. How the world became flat.
2. How developing countries and America reacted to the flattening of the world;
3. How individuals, countries and companies can benefit from globalization;
4. The forces that impede the complete flattening of the world.


How the World Became Flat


The Three Eras of Globalization
According to Friedman, globalization, or the process of global integration, is not a completely new phenomenon. It started in 1492 and can be divided into three eras:
a. Globalization 1.0 (from 1492 to 1800). The main global actors in this era were countries and governments, and global integration was driven by the strength of a country and its creative use of such strength. b. Globalization 2.0 (from 1800 to 2000). In this era, the key actors – multinational companies – were able to bring about a real maturation of the global economy. This was due to the decrease in the costs of transportation and telecommunications. Only the Great Depression and the interwar period interrupted this process.

c. Globalization 3.0 (since 2000). The uniqueness of this era is the unprecedented empowerment of individuals to collaborate and
compete at a global level thanks to the spread of software and its applications, as well as “the creation of a global fiber-optic network that has made us all next-door neighbors.” (p.10) Also, the speed at which these changes are occurring makes this era qualitatively different from all previous periods.


The Flattening Forces of Globalization and their “Triple
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