While visiting a company in Bangalore, India, Thomas L. Friedman looks at a wall screen that connects Infosys Technologies Limited’s global supply chain. At any time of day, individuals within this company—no matter where in the world they are—can meet via a video conference call. Friedman realizes that the “world is flat”—in his words, “the global competitive playing field was being leveled. The world was being flattened.” Friedman looks at the history of globalization and identifies three periods. The first lasts from 1492 to 1800, a time when trade begins between the New World and Old World. “Globalization 2.0” lasts from 1800 to 2000, and here the “dynamic force driving global integration” is multinational companies. This is the era in which the global market is born. Globalization 3.0 will continue to shrink and flatten the world, but it will differ from the previous periods that Friedman identifies because it will become decreasingly a Western driven process.
Friedman goes on to discuss forces that are flattening the world. He notes that when the Berlin Wall fell, the world became a little flatter. Friedman argues that although many forces caused the Wall to fall, the “first among equals” was the use of information technology like fax machines to spread information. The creation of the World Wide Web accelerated this process, as did work flow software. Friedman also points to the power of the community that arose in the twenty-first century, which can be seen in groups of people creating open-source software in their spare time while large companies are trying to sell the same service. Outsourcing and offshoring are also "flatteners." Here, Friedman travels to India and China to explain how business models need to change in order to remain competitive in the flat world. The next flattener is supply-chaining, which allows Wal-Mart to be the biggest retail chain in the world, even though it does not make anything. What Wal-Mart offers, Friedman explains, is a supply chain. Insourcing, meanwhile, takes Friedman to UPS, where “UPS engineers come right inside your company; analyze its manufacturing, packaging, and delivery processes; and then design, redesign, and manage your global supply chain.” The result of this insourcing is that some companies no longer touch their products. Toshiba laptops are not only transported but also fixed by UPS workers. Friedman refers to the rise of information found...
(The entire section is 2099 words.)
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