The World Is Flat

Published 07 Sep 2017

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century is the celebrated work by Thomas L. Friedman, examining the movements of globalization considering the developments of early 21st century. The very title is a metaphor that says that the world is flat or even as far as commerce and competition is concerned. According to the book, all the competitors have equal opportunity in this level playing field (Ghemawat, 2007). The tile also explains the historic shifts in perception when people came to the realization that world was not flat but round. The book says that a similar change in perception is needed if countries, commercial clients and individuals wish to be competitive in a global market. This shift in perception is relevant as regional, geographical and historical divisions are becoming important in global market (Ghemawat, 2007).

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century was released in 2005. Two updated editions were later released in 2006 and 2007. The tile of the book was taken from the statement of former CEO of Infosys Nandan Nilekani (Ghemawat, 2007). In the book, the author recalls a journey to Bangalore, India when he understood that globalization made changes on the crucial economic concepts. According to him, the world is flat, as globalization has leveled the competitive grounds among the budding industrial markets (Ghemawat, 2007). Friedman says that this leveling is the result of a convergence of personal computer with fiber-optic micro cable with the rise of work flow software (Bass, 2005). The author explained this period as Globalization 3.0, differentiating this period from the previous Globalization 1.0 (which countries and governments were the main protagonists) and the Globalization 2.0 (which multinational companies led the way in driving global integration) (Ghemawat, 2007).

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Author of The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century cites several examples of concerns that are based in China and India. According to him, human resource provided by India (for example call center executives, typists, computer programmers and accountants) have become an integral part of global supply chain as they offer their service for global giants like AOL, Microsoft and Dell. Friedman’s Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention is also explained in the book (Ghemawat, 2007). What Friedman means by the term ‘flat’ is ‘connected.’ Trade and political barriers are loosing its relevance in the modern world. The exponential technical improvements of the digital revolution have enabled to initiate businesses instantaneously with people around the world (Bass, 2005). But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments-when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East-is when they actually began to accelerate (Ghemawat, 2007). According to him globalization is not led by giant corporations or big trade organizations but by ordinary desktop freelancers and inventive startups all over the world (particularly in China and India) (Ghemawat, 2007).

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century the brilliant work by the award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman throw light on the new world of globalization. The readers often find themselves bewildered at the global scene unfolding before their eyes through the book (Ghemawat, 2007).

The book The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century is written from an American perspective. The author exhibits a unique ability to interpret complex foreign policy and economic issues (Ghemawat, 2007). He skillfully explains how the flattening of the world happened at the beginning of the twenty-first century and how it affected countries, business giants, communities and common man. The book also explains how societies and governments should adopt to the new changes brought by globalization (Ghemawat, 2007). This magnificent account of Friedman is an essential and timely update on globalization and its influence on the modern world. The author powerfully illuminates real consequences of globalization (Ghemawat, 2007). The author explains ten “flatteners” that he sees as leveling the global playing field. The ten flatteners include Collapse of Berlin Wall–11/’89, Netscape (Netscape and the Web), Workflow software, Open Sourcing, Outsourcing, Offshoring, Supply chaining, Insourcing, In-forming, “The Steroids (Bass, 2005)”

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century is written in the trademark style of Friedman. Friedman’s relationship with the New York Times has greatly influenced the way the book was written (Ghemawat, 2007). He stresses technological forces. It however seems that the author has exaggerated the significance of the trends (Ghemawat, 2007). In a 2007 Foreign Policy magazine article, Pankaj Ghemawat (professor at Harvard Business School), argued that ninety percent of the world’s phone calls, Web traffic, and investments are local and the facts and figures given by Friedman are not exact (Ghemawat, 2007). According to him “Despite talk of a new, wired world where information, ideas, money, and people can move around the planet faster than ever before, just a fraction of what we consider globalization actually exists” (Bass, 2005). The Washington Post says that “Like its predecessor, this book showcases Friedman’s gift for lucid dissections of abstruse economic phenomena, his teacher’s head, his preacher’s heart, his genius for trend-spotting….We’ve no real idea how the 21st century’s history will unfold, but this terrifically stimulating book will certainly inspire readers to start thinking it all through (Bass, 2005).”


  • Friedman, Thomas L. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006
  • Warren Bass, “The Great Leveling”, Washington Post, 2005
  • Pankaj Ghemawat, “Why the World Isn’t Flat”, 2007
  • Pankaj Ghemawat, Why the world isn’t flat. Growth Strategies, 2007.
  • Peter Begley, “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century”, 2006.
  • Fox, Justin, “A Painter Is Flat-Out Flimflammed”, Fortune Magazine, 2005
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