There, they get the work done their way, with their tools and in their own space, but with much lower costs that in their native country.
Friedman is a firm believer in offshoring and states that such a process is a strong stimulant for fair and international competition. He criticizes the countries that did not yet adopt it saying that all countries should be members of the international market, regardless of their social or economical background.
To explain this idea, the author makes an exaggerated comparison. He says: "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running." (the World Is Flat, Chapter 2, "The Ten Forces That Flattened the World," p.113). In other words, it does not matter if you are a highly developed country or a less developed one, your duty is to participate to the world competition and promote your country's best products.
Flattener 7: Supply-Chaining
Eating Sushi in Arkansas
Supply-chaining is the seventh element that contributes to the flattening of the world. Friedman defines it as "a method of collaborating horizontally -- among suppliers, retailers, and customers -- to create value" (the World Is Flat, Chapter 2, "The Ten Forces That Flattened the World," p. 128).
The horizontal collaboration technique implies the removal of old fashion vertical structure, in other words, elimination of hierarchy. Members of a horizontal structure have more confidence in their work and capabilities as they are not faced with hierarchical superiors, but rather work together with equal colleagues. The author believes that "The more these supply chains grow and proliferate, the more they force the adaptation of common standards between companies (so that every link of every supply chain can interface with the next), the more they eliminate points of friction at borders, the more the efficiencies of one company get adopted by the others, and the more they encourage global collaboration." (the World Is Flat, Chapter 2, "The Ten Forces That Flattened the World," p. 129)
The most relevant example in support of this theory is the success registered by Wal-Mart. By applying this particular strategy, Wal-Mart became the biggest retail business in the world.
Flattener 8: In-sourcing
What the Guys in Funny Brown Shorts Are Really Doing
In the eighth subchapter of his second chapter, Friedman discusses the issue of insourcing and defines it as a collaboration and horizontal creation of value. The actual process of insourcing implies "the delegation of operations or jobs from production within a business to an internal (but 'stand-alone') entity (such as a subcontractor) that specializes in that operation. Insourcing is a business decision that is often made to maintain control of certain critical production or competencies." (Wikipedia, Insourcing)
To prove that insourcing is not only a flattening element, but also a highly beneficial one, Friedman gives readers numerous examples. Among these examples are FedEx or UPS. He states that these companies are not just carriers, but much more. Around the late 1990s, UPS began operating in the business of "synchronized commerce solutions and is now able to service virtually any supply chain from one corner of the flat earth to another." (James Berry, Review on the book "The World is Flat")
To give a clear explanation of the phenomenon, Friedman goes even further and helps the reader understand the logics behind the relationship of Nike and UPS. He takes the case of a customer who places an online order on the official website of Nike. Further on, the request is being directed to UPS who prepares and realizes the actual delivery. The producer does not have any implication in the process.
Flattener 9: Informing
Google, Yahoo!, MSN Web Search"
The ninth flattening element is represented by Google, along with other several highly developed Internet tools. Friedman refers to this as "the democratized access to personal knowledge that we take for granted today, but that would have been unthinkable decade ago -- the ability of hundreds of millions of people around the world to use a search engine, free of charge, to find out nearly anything they need to know at any time." (Howard Rheingold, Book review)
Free usage of search engines and endless internet tools is the ultimate proof of freedom. It grants freedom to access and gain knowledge of whatever information one needs. Furthermore, it allows internet users to freely state their opinions and points-of-view.
Google is the strongest symbol of freedom, a source for answers to our questions and solutions to our problems. The fact that the information one needs, even if located thousands miles away from the source, could be found only a click away grants Google, along with other search engines the well deserved title of flattener number nine.
Google interconnects, on daily basis, billions of people of different races, religious convictions and nationalities into an immense community that all share the same search engine. "it is the remarkable diversity of searches going on via Google, in so many different tongues, that makes the Google search engine (and search engines in general) such huge flatteners. Never before in the history of the planet have so many people - on their own - had the ability to find so much information about so many things and about so many other people." (the World Is Flat, Chapter 2, "The Ten Forces That Flattened the World," p.152)
Flattener 10: The Steroids
Digital, Mobile, Personal, and Virtual"
The steroids are a quite different flattener, belonging to a new category of flatteners, belonging to the future. They take the forms of high speed, great amount of storage and wireless technology. These steroids can be used in combinations with most of the above mentioned flatteners in order to improve the quality of the final product.
Among the concrete products that belong in this category are: Apple's iPod, the hi-tech laptops and palmtops and even the latest versions of cellular telephones.
Friedman, along with the large number of his supporters feel the need to "thank the world for the PC-Windows-Netscape-work flow revolutions, all analog content and processes- everything from photography to entertainment to communication to word processing to architectural design to the management of the home lawn sprinkler system-are being digitized and therefore can be shaped, manipulated, and transmitted over computers, the Internet, satellites, or fiber-optic cable." (the World Is Flat, Chapter 2, "The Ten Forces That Flattened the World," p.161)
Thomas L. Friedman, the World is Flat, Chapter two: The Ten Forces that Flatten the World, pages 48 to 172
The Official Web Site of the University of Tennessee, University Libraries, Ready for the World, Thomas Friedman's flatteners, by Martha Rudolph, posted on March 2, 2006 http://www.lib.utk.edu/news/readyfortheworld/archives/the_world_is_flat.html, last accessed on October 5, 2006
James Berry, Review on the book the World is Flat, posted on April 19, 2006 http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=1884,last accessed on October 5, 2006
Howard Rheingold, Seven Ways to See What's Next, winter 2005
http://www.strategy-business.com/press/16635507/05409b,last accessed on October 5, 2006