The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman is best described as an expose of the realities of the present day business world and of the effects that certain advances in technology as well as political upheavals have had on capitalism during the past three decades. The “flattening” of the world is a metaphor used to describe an increasing interconnectivity among the citizens of the world. This increase in interconnectivity is ascribed to several events such as the fall of the Berlin wall, and most prominently, the advent of the internet.
The point is stressed that for companies to survive in today’s environment, they must keep pace with the constant advances in technology that are making previous ways of doing business no longer competitive. It is also noted that it is becoming less important that a company be subservient to a particular nation state. Outsourcing to countries where labour is cheaper such as India, will save companies’ money, establish business practices in foreign countries, and, ironically, produce better results.
As a result we are left with the same capitalism as before, but just a different (and ever changing), and much wider playing field. It’s shocking to learn how backward the United States of America has become. To think that the country responsible for setting the pace of modern day capitalism has been able to educate its population so poorly is a troubling reflection of our value system. To quote the text, “In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears – and that is our problem. America is no longer motivated. Our youth have become lazy underachievers who will certainly be left at the bottom of the food chain where the upper rungs will be occupied by today’s hardest workers who come from today’s poorest countries. That is of course unless Americans have a drastic change in mentality. Unfortunately, I believe what will happen is that as a nation we will end up underpaid (or simply paid what we are worth) or unemployed. Essentially, being American is no longer a valuable thing. We are becoming worthless.
As a nation we are apathetic to issues that are most important to the survival of our country; instead, we would prefer to focus our energies on figuring out how much pot Lindsey Lohan smokes and whether such and such a celebrity beats his wife or not. It is because of this media induced epidemic that I foresee an increasingly slimmer portion of the US population benefiting from globalization. The rest I see as being indefinitely underpaid if paid at all. The most important lesson to take away from this book is the importance of hard work.
Also, it is very important to realize how to benefit, in business, from this changing world and to adapt as quickly as possible to its parameters. It is those who are best equipped to adapt that will be able to stay afloat financially. The importance of networking also cannot be overlooked. Not only is networking in general going to be more and more important; with whom you network, and how you communicate with each other could make the difference between a successful business and a failure. Those who plan to adapt the best must establish vast and purposeful networks.
Furthermore, in business we have to continue think globally, and we have to think about long term benefits. In America we have trouble thinking beyond the short term. While it’s probably not uncommon to find a businessman from the other side of the world whose long term goals include the prosperity of generations underneath him, In America people increasingly don’t even have their own prosperity in mind. So not only is it time to take into consideration our own prosperity, but it is also time to ensure that the generations that succeed us will also have the ability to prosper. Eric Snoddy