Global Paradox

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The dramatic and disparate trends at work in the world at the end of the twentieth century are almost incomprehensible: global economy, global communications, fragmenting nations, ethnic self-determination, emerging states, increasing tourism. Once again, John Naisbitt takes it as his mission to make sense of it all. And once again he provides a platform of understanding on the basis of which leaders in business and government can act.

Naisbitt’s analysis begins with a discussion of what he sees as the central paradox: As the world becomes more integrated economically, the political and business entities that comprise it are becoming smaller and more numerous. As a corollary, Naisbitt notes that as the world economy becomes bigger and more open, smaller and middle-sized companies will dominate because of their greater flexibility and innovation.

Driving the paradox, says Naisbitt, is the telecommunications revolution. The virtually instantaneous worldwide exchange of information empowers individuals, small businesses, and incipient states. He details the emerging synthesis of computers, telephones, and television, and he identifies the technological and corporate forces shaping the development of the so-called information superhighway.

The travel industry is also playing an important role in the Global Paradox, says Naisbitt, by providing the funding for the global economy. He says that the more humans integrate the world, the more they differentiate their experiences—and the more they are inclined to visit other cultures. In a chapter on the new rules of conduct, Naisbitt says that the new awareness of other cultures and their greater visibility because of telecommunications will result in a greater empathy with and concern for the plight of others.

Naisbitt uses China as a case study of how a large, centrally planned economy is giving way to the driving force of myriad individual entrepreneurs, with the consequence that China will be, according to his prediction, the world’s largest economy by the year 2000. Aware of burgeoning interest in markets outside of the United States and Western Europe, Naisbitt concludes by examining the new areas of opportunity in Asia and Latin America.