The New York setting of the story is entirely appropriate, as Tom is very much the product of the big city and its values. Ambitious, hard-working, and driven, Tom shares the same outlook on life as millions of his fellow New Yorkers. In fact, it could be any one of them out there on that ledge, desperately scrambling around for a lost piece of paper needed to get ahead at work.
Specifically, Tom lives in Manhattan, the thriving, beating heart of the city and the place where so many big businesses are based. And the values encapsulated by those businesses have been imbibed by their employees, including Tom, who's initially prepared to risk his own neck for them.
Clearly, the big city and its corporate values have led Tom astray, away from what really matters in life. In venturing out onto the ledge to retrieve his paper he's effectively putting his work before himself and his family. He's even putting it before his own life.
Thankfully, Tom eventually snaps out of this warped attitude and realizes that his values have been askew. But they're the values by which so many of his fellow New Yorkers live and will continue to live long after he's climbed back inside his apartment.