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The World Is Flat sumary Thomas Friedman


The World is Flat
Vũ Minh Phương

Student ID: KT44C-090-1721


Hanoi, April 18th, 2019


CHƯƠNG 1. General introduction
1.1 Author: Thomas L. Friedman
Thomas L. Friedman
• Born July 20, 1953

• Is an American political commentator and author
• Served as a Foreign Affairs columnist for New York Times
• Became famous for coverage of Arab-Israeli conflict
• Three time Pulitzer Prize winner
• Famous book: The Lexus and the Olive Tree, The Worls is Flat
1.2 The book: The world is flat
First released in 2005, was later released as an "updated and expanded" edition in 2006,
and was yet again released with additional updates in 2007 as "further updated and
expanded: Release 3.0".
Won the inaugural Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award
in 2005.It is an international best-selling book
CHƯƠNG 2. The main content of the book
2.1 How the world became flat
1 While I Was Sleeping
As we are introduced to Friedman’s theory that the world is flat, we accompany him on a
journey to the various locations around the globe that led him to this conclusion. We start
off in Bangalore, India, where he finds himself surrounded by advertisements of
traditionally American companies such as Pizza Hut, Epson, HP and Texas Instruments
during a round of golf. Traveling with a crew from the Discovery Times channel, he
encounters Indian workers and businesspeople working for American companies,
speaking in American accents and even adopting American names in their own country. A
visit to Infosys Technologies Ltd leaves Friedman in wonder at the massive conferencing
system they have created that allows people from around the globe to congregate and
collaborate in one giant room via satellite and teleconferencing technology.
Friedman guides us through the different eras of globalization as he has defined them in
an historical narrative from the days of Columbus to our present day state. We see the
ever increasing pace of globalization through his encounters with people such as Jaithirth
“Jerry” Rao, an outsourced businessman in India, and others. Through Jerry, we learn
about the process of information exchange online and the effect it has on businesses to
perform various duties from remote locations with everything from tax preparation to hair
appointment scheduling to hospital bookings cited as examples of outsourcing.

As Friedman travels through Japan, China and back to America, we study various
examples of the business outsourcing phenomenon and its impact, positive and negative,
on the players involved. Homesourcing and military outsourcing are explored as
Friedman explains the sheer prevalence of outsourcing in our society.
2 The Ten Forces That Flattened the World
Friedman writes extensively about what he calls the 10 Flatteners. He explains that ''The
world has been flattened by the convergence of ten major political events, innovations,

and companies.'' These are:
• Fall of the Berlin Wall - This event liberated millions of people and signaled the
end of communism. It also shifted much of the world from centrally planned
economies to democratic free-market oriented governments.
• World Wide Web and the Internet - Users can now save, retrieve, send and share
intellectual content electronically and instantly. The internet created a platform for
connectivity and the web made information sharing possible.
• Workflow Software - People were now able to collaborate while working
remotely. Users were able to design, display, manage and collaborate on projects
and share data that was once handled manually and locally.
• Uploading - Provided free access to community developed software. Computer
applications were no longer 'bought'. They could be downloaded for free off the
• Outsourcing - Specific functions or tasks performed in-house such as tax
preparation, research or call-center operations are now performed by another
company at a lower cost.
• Offshoring - Different from outsourcing, offshoring moves an entire operation,
factory and function to a completely different location. All things are equal expect
for labor costs, lower taxes and subsidized energy. The combined savings creates a
lower cost product.
• Supply Chaining - Collaboration among suppliers, retailers and customers to
create value during the production and distribution of a product. Supply chain
methodologies also forces the adoption of common industrial standards.
• Insourcing - Small and mid-sized companies are able to provide services to large
supply chains without prohibitive expense, such as UPS fixing computers for
• Informing - Provides universal access to knowledge information and research.
Anyone with an internet connection can access knowledge from the world's

• Wireless Connectivity - Wireless access created a mobile society so work was no
longer tethered to a hard-wired connection. All content could now be digitized,
shared remotely and reshaped.
3 The Triple Convergence
Convergence I: The combination of the ten world flatteners created a new global
platform. This new platform allowed us to collaborate and communicate in ways in we
never have before. This new platform allowed us to collaborate without regard to
geography, time, or distance. It is interesting to see how the ten seemingly
unrelated flatteners came together to create a new global platform. It was as if the world
was revolving right before our eyes and we did not really realize what was happening
until after it was said and done.
Convergence II: This new platform would not be useful if we did not change the way we
did business. What it took business process to change, adapt and benefit from new
technologies is what is Friedman refers to as “horizontalization”. In globalization 3.0, we
moved from a vertical chain of command to a horizontal chain of command for value
creation. These lead companies to focus less on chain of command and more on
connection and collaboration. Companies have begun to realize the advantages created by
thinking horizontally and have begun to use collaboration to their advantage.
Convergence III: Before the flattening of the world, the global economy consisted of
about 2.5 billion people. The flattened world allowed another 150 million people to be
added to the global connected workforce. More importantly globalization is now being
driven by the individual not by governmental agencies. Because of the new flat world we
now have access to collaboration tools and raw information. As I stated in a previous post
it is necessary for us to accept and adapt to this new flat world in order to be competitve.
In India these individual are referred to as Zippies. Zippies are the Indian youth who have
come to age since India shifted away from socialism. Instead of trying to get a Visa to
work or study in the U.S. this generation has discovered they can now stay in India and
be just as successful. The point is clear then that the ten world flatteners have enabled
Indians, Chinese, and Russians to innovate without having to emigrate.
The Other Convergence: The other convergence helps to explain why the triple
convergence occurred and so many of us did not seem to notice it. I personally believe
that it takes time for the world to adjust to new trends and it is not something that can
happen over night. We did not miss it we were aware of it but distracted by other global
events. Friedman points out three smokes screens the caused us to “miss” the triple
convergence. The first thing he attributes to the smoke screen is dot-com burst. So many
people associated dot-com with globalization that when it failed we believe globalization
as well. I agree with him that this is ludicrous but I do not think that many people
associated this with globalization. The other two factors attributed to the smoke screen

were 9/11 and the corporate scandals. This just support my theory that we were distracted
by other world/economic crisis at the same time that the triple convergence occurred.
4 The Great Sorting Out
Discusses the fact that as the world “flattens,” it is not only business practices that will be
affected. Other dilemmas are created within communities and their identities, individuals’
identities, and the role of governments. He states that although the world becoming more
“flat” is a good thing and will ultimately require the elimination of most inefficiencies,
there are certain ones that should be kept. These are the inefficiencies that allow people
and nations to define their identities, such as religion, national pride, and social practices.
2.2 America and the flat world
5 America and free trade
Does free trade still exist in a flat world? As he sets out to explore this dilemma,
Friedman considers the banning of outsourcing, an action called for by many, to protect
our country’s workers and the effect such an action would have on globalization. He
concludes that erecting borders and walls would be detrimental to our goals and that
Americans must instead be prepared to compete on a global playing field.
Friedman encourages better education and training, as Americans now compete not only
with other Americans, but with the most brilliant minds around the globe for positions.
We explore the “lump of labor” theory and new job creation in a global economy. He
identifies the workers that will suffer most, should they be unable to keep ahead of the
globalization trend, and offers large-scale suggestions to remedy this problem. Using the
history of the American agricultural industry as an indicator of future trends in various
industries today, he stresses the importance of an ability to adapt and specialize where
there is a need. We learn that fear stimulates change and that this is a good thing.
6 The Untouchables
Friedman addresses a concern shared by many Americans: what do we tell our kids? As
the competition for jobs stiffens, how do we prepare them for the increased competition?
His suggestion that we must make ourselves “untouchables” is explored in detail as he
identifies three broad categories of workers who will have job security in the flat world.
Synthesizers, explainers, leveragers, versatilists and more are identified and explained as
viable career options, as well as strategies for preparing for these positions.
7 The Right Stuff
In a frank discussion of the fear amongst Americans regarding competition and
education, Friedman explores the “right stuff”; the educational requirements needed to
survive in the flattened world and more importantly, the availability of said education in
our current system. Stressing the importance of self-learning and learning to learn,

Friedman offers valuable advice to parents unsure of their children’s educational and
professional futures. He recommends building right-brain skills, or those that cannot be
duplicated by a computer, and explores different vehicles to higher learning, including
music. Friedman examines the factors necessary to create the right environment for this
learning and contemplates methods of achieving this in modern day America.
8 The Quiet Crisis
An interview with Shirley Ann Jackson, 2004 President of the American Association for
the Advancement of Science, demonstrates that a quiet crisis is happening slowly but
surely as multiple and complex forces are at work creating the perfect storm;
demographic, political, social, cultural, economic, etc., that could lead to America falling
behind in innovation, science and technology.
9 This Is Not a Test
Friedman stresses the importance of shoving political barriers aside in what he calls
“compassionate flatism” to prepare our country for what lies ahead. He questions
leadership and education; who will lead us into the forefront of this new globalized
economy? The necessity for lifelong learning and benefits to allow workers to remain
mobile and adaptable is very real, though it seems to be at the bottom of our to-do list.
2.3 Developing countries and the flat world
10The Virgin of Gualalupe
We see the Chinese manufacture of statuettes of The Virgin of Guadalupe and their
subsequent importation into Mexico as an example of the problem created when one
developing country competes with another, as China replaced Mexico as the U.S.’s
number two importer in 2003. Friedman discusses the need for developing countries to
put policies in place to create the right environment for their companies and
entrepreneurs to succeed in the flat world. He states that countries must be brutally honest
with themselves in determining their place in the world market if they are to adapt and
survive. A comparison of countries who have opened their borders and adopted free trade
policies versus those who have not and been left behind illustrates his point.
2.4 Companies and the flat world
11 How Companies Cope
Friedman opines that companies willing to change and accept change are more likely to
do things than have things done to them. In profiling Jill and Ken Greer, creators of Greer
& Associates multimedia company, we learn of their experience with the rise of
freelancers as their competition, as well as the fact that technology that should have
simplified their operations made it more difficult by requiring more of them.

2.5 Geopolitics and the flat world
12The Unflat World
Friedman shares stories of the world flattening but humbly announces that he does indeed
realize the world is not yet flat. He wants to draw attention to the flattening and the everincreasing pace at which it is occurring. Part of this understanding must come from a
recognization of factors that are preventing globalization from occurring in some people.
13Globalization of the Local
Friedman believes that globalization serves more to enrich and preserve culture than to
destroy it, as each person is given their own voice and vehicle of expression through
podcasts, websites, etc.
14The Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention
Friedman’s theory is that two countries invested in a business together by being part of
the same global supply-chain are less likely to go to war, as they are now heavily invested
in the success of the business venture. Any interruption to that supply chain would be
critical. As we reflect on the evolution of supply chains and the effect they have had on
politics and the stability of countries they affect, we remember that Asia, as opposed to
much of the Middle East, has become more stable because they are part of many supply
chains and therefore more interested in doing good business. Overall, the price of war is
higher than it used to be and countries will have to consider the effect of a war on their
place in the business world. Friedman explores both the China-Taiwan relations and
India-Pakistan as examples of how the flattening of the world and supply chain have a
calming effect and cause countries to think rationally about the true cost of war, making
diplomatic solution more likely.
2.6 Conclusion: Imagination
1511/9 Versus 9/11
The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated
terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the
morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
11/9 and 9/11 have had two huge competing forms of imagination, one a creative one
while the other a destructive one. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall on 11/9 dared to
imagine an open world where everyone would be free to realize his or her full potential,
while the other 9/11 dared to imagine the wrath that could be brought in this open world.
In today’s world where small can act big it’s not only the imagination of the leaders, but
now of the people that can shape the way the world moves. This new idea makes it
important to stimulate positive imaginations. We can see how the aim of the imagination
can effect the outcome when you look at how Neeleman worked hard and used his

intelligence to create a successful airline, while at the same time Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed was using his imagination to scheme up a horrific set of acts to inflict hard
on innocent people. The attacks of 9/11 worked through a global supply chain like any
other business would in the global world. The ease of communication, travel, and
connection made it possible for terrorists all over the world to collaborate. This is what
we are facing in today’s open world.
CHƯƠNG 3. Comment about the book
When reading "The Flat World", readers will realize that the world is "Flat". "Flat" means
removing the barriers of politics along with the great progress of information technology
and science and technology, helping people closer together.
By telling interesting and lively stories, Friedman explained clearly and very
convincingly about the process of flattening the world: when the world began, how it
happened, what factors flattened the world. The more I read the book, I feel fascinated by
extremely practical examples and extremely subtle words. As I went through each page, I
saw a vivid picture created from the events of the past and partly understood the causes of
what I am seeing now.
Following, The author helps readers learn about the effects of the flat world on life and
society, from its role to nations as well as political and economic division, to its role to
personally, give very honest and grounded advice on how you can thrive in an
increasingly flat environment.
He summed up a very special thing: the 21st century is the most livable, most exciting
period ever, the period for young people to express their will and intellect yourself in the
world. Everyone can collaborate together in global supply chains to create greater value
added. He led readers to believe in the goodness of globalization and the process of
To write this book, I didn't know how many places he had to go, how many people he
met, how many books he read and how much time he spent studying. I really admired and
appreciated him. When I read the last page of the book, I felt really happy because I
discovered so many new things. Besides, I felt a little worried and a little thoughtful: "I
will need what to do to be successful in this world”
CHƯƠNG 4. Contact my self and apply it practically
Thomas Friedman emphasized that globalization gives us the confidence, agility and
flexibility of an open world, you just need to open a computer with an internet
connection, you can change whole the world. With the flat world things are no longer any
distance and we are being enjoyed too much benefit from the internet. It is your and
mine's job to ride on the wave of globalization and make the most out of the internet

benefits. There are millions of jobs, thousands of chances for us to become bosses,
mistresses, celebrities. As long as we dare to dream and fulfill that dream every day, there
will surely be one day that we dream wish will come true.
I realize that the world today has 2 main types of work including repetitive work and nonroutine work. The repetitive work is getting narrower, there are even robots to do these
things, and non-routine things like lawyers and doctors. So the new challenge we face is
to create jobs that are not repetitive for ourselves. Each person needs to create his own
unique added value, only that way can exist in a world of competition today.
The way the world works makes us need to be aware of our position once again as part of
the supply chain.
Globalization also has a downside. When you are not strong or not ready to be strong,
you will be mercilessly devoured or left with only small pieces in the bread piece of
global commercial interests.
Currently, Vietnam has been participating in the process of globalization. If young people
understand the opportunities that they have in today's world, it will help greatly in
understanding the country's development path and contributing to that development.

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