World Is Flat A Brief Book Report

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Friedman considers insourcing to be flattener number eight, because it allows small companies to compete like major supply-chain companies. Insourcing refers to hiring another company to handle a company's supply chain. UPS is the major supplier for insourcing services in the United States. Friedman believes that insourcing flattens in three ways: by letting little companies compete in the global market; by dissolving barriers between companies; and by standardizing business practices across companies.

Finally, Friedman looks at a group of flatteners that he refers to as the steroids. These are small flatteners that have the effect of amplifying the other flatteners. Mobile steroids are those technologies allowing people to work in non-traditional environments and include cellular phones, laptops, and wireless internet access. Personal steroids are those things that give power to the individual, and include personal computers, search engines, and peer-to-peer file sharing. While these flatteners are not powerful enough to change the world on their own, they certainly impact how the larger flatteners can change the world.

After discussing flatteners, Friedman discusses how the flatteners converged, not only with each other but also with global social and political changes to help create modern society. All of the flatteners were important, but they may not have been able to achieve today's modern, global society if they had not occurred at the same time. Friedman refers to this combination of elements as Convergence I. Friedman thinks that the global platform is so critical that, "Wealth and power will increasingly accrue to those countries, companies, individuals, universities, and groups who get three basic things right: the infrastructure to connect with this flat-world platform, the education to get more of their people innovating on, working off of, and tapping into this platform, and, finally, the governance to get the best out of this platform and cushion its worst side effects" (2007, p. 205). Friedman believes that Convergence II is when business practices caught up with the emerging global platform, which did not occur immediately. Convergence III was based on demographics; in the 1990s several countries with large populations of young people, which had previously been confined to local economies, opened themselves up to participate in the global economy. These countries included China and much of Central Asia, India, Russia and much of Eastern Europe, and most of Latin America, and it meant an additional 1.5 billion participants in the global economy.

In the final part of his book, Friedman discusses how globalization will impact the American economy. Friedman makes it clear that the West, particularly the United States, is losing its ability to dominate the world economy. While he does not see this loss as something inherently negative because flattening can be beneficial for so many people, he does see it as something for which Westerners need to prepare themselves. Flattening has created an environment where products, services, and labor are cheaper. This has actually resulted in middle class people having an increased buying power. However, as work continues to be sent to other countries, it also means that these same people will most likely face reduced wages and/or job opportunities. Friedman is alarmed by the complacency he sees in the West, especially in the United States, where many take economic dominance as a right. He urges Americans to realize that academic, political, and economic changes are necessary for the United States to remain vital in the emerging global economy.


Friedman does a very good job of explaining how the economy has become global and the possible impacts of that economy. At the time he wrote his book, it might have been possible to dismiss some of his concerns that the West was going to lose its economic dominance. However, since 2007, the world has undergone a tremendous recession, with several Western governments literally becoming bankrupt. Though the United States remains a major economic player in the global economy, China's emerging economic dominance cannot be ignored. In fact, it will be interesting to see if economic recovery is possible or if this economic distress that the West is currently experiencing is not really a recession, but is instead actually a reflection of the changing global economic conditions.


Friedman, T. (2007). The world is flat: a brief…[continue]

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