A critique of Thomas Friedman’s bestseller Assignment

A critique of Thomas Friedman’s bestseller Assignment Words: 2827

Now more than ever, it is extremely necessary for people to ask questions and check the veracity of every claim, thought or position. This is important because postulations that are allowed to thrive without questioning might easily be mistaken for facts upon which concrete decisions and policy making will be based by stakeholders around the world. There has been so much talk about globalization, especially in the last decade. In fact, it is the globalization debate that metamorphosed into the more recent discussion about outsourcing and offspring that has been more prevalent in the USA than in any other part of the world.

The issue is so vital that it became a flashlight during the presidential debates among President Obama and Mitt Rooney. It has also being a continuous source of tension that went as far as threatening the relations between the USA and China. Multiple award winning author, Thomas Friedman wrote a bestseller on the issue of globalization. He took the ‘globalization’ discussion one or two notches higher when he said that the world is flat. In his book The world is flat; He presented narratives to support the assertion that world economies were thriving on international elaboration transfer of service and that everything had gone global.

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He cited many instances of trans-border trade and collaboration and while his views might be valid to an extent, it appears as if they were over-exaggerated as Panky showed while presenting a TED talk. Panky in his talk showed with the help of statistics, how the world is not as flat as Mr.. Friedman says it is. He also observed – like I did, that Mr.. Friedman’s view is based on his personal experiences from his travels and interaction with a sizeable amount of individuals: The book lacked any academic or scholarly references!

Apart from the evident over-exaggeration of the globalization issue, the book appears to be one-sided in its treatment of the globalization debacle. In treating a topic of that level of importance, one would have expected to see some opposing views to bring some balance into the presentation. The said lack of balance robs the book of any scholastic status its author might have intended for it to have. Opinions-in my opinion, are more tenable and scholarly when they stand in the face of decent opposition. Where is Africa in the equation? In May 2000, The Economist magazine declared that Africa was “the hopeless intent. ” Eleven years later, in 2011, it referred to Africa as “the hopeful continent. ” piling into Lagos and Nairobi as if they were Frankfurt and Tokyo of old” (Incest, F. N 2012. ) Because of its large reserves of natural resources, a huge human population, and the other resources that remain untapped in various areas, it is hardly understandable why anyone would have referred to Africa as hopeless in the year 2000 or at any time in history. Africa has always been a pivotal part of world trade, as consumers if not as producers.

This ‘sin’ of neglecting Africa in the scheme of things is even more unpardonable especially as it was committed (by Mr.. Friedman through his book) in 2005 when things were looking up for the continent. Mr.. Friedman’s book made no real mention of Africa and that -in my opinion- is a huge shortfall of the book. How can anyone talk about our world without talking about Africa? It is not surprising that Africa wasn’t well mentioned though, a cursory study of the book will reveal why. With an abundant collection of “stand-alone” success stories, the African narrative is an antithesis of the globalization story that Mr..

Friedman so gracefully told. I am an African from Nigeria and I know that the Nigerian story – even in international trade, doesn’t support the heightened awareness that Mr.. Friedman’s book supplies in abundance about the flattening of the world. Africa, like some other parts of the world still belongs mainly to the old order where the relationship with other parts of the world starts and ends with imports and exports of goods and services. Africa is growing in leaps and bounds. New markets are opening, population is increasing and there is an increased influx of foreign investors.

As good as these indices are, apart from importation and exportation -mainly of goods, there is little evidence of “flattening”. Africans isn’t a service based economy. The continent depends mainly on its mineral resources whose prices have remained relatively stable. These resources have served -to a great extent- as a buffer for the continent against most global economic forces or phenomena. For instance, while the world (outside Africa) suffered the effects of the latest recession, Africa was experiencing visible growth and its economic indices were stronger.

In an MIFF article titled Africa and the Great recession, written by Antoinette Essay ND posted on Wordless on May 14th 2012, it was stated that as huge as the effect of the global recession was, it didn’t affect the growth of the African (especially the sub-Sahara) region. Even when the recession hit its peak in 2009, it only reduced the average growth of African economies from five percent to three. The article states categorically that “Commodity prices for African natural resources have remained relatively high to date, sustained by the continued strong growth of major emerging market economies, most notably China.

African banking systems have not experienced the severe financial stresses recorded in the advance economies, in good part because they are not heavily dependent on external funding, relying If the world was truly “flat”, one would expect an osmosis of effects to happen in the case of a global recession. How then, was Africa so immune to the crisis? I am not under the illusion that Africa is on an economic island. All I am saying is that the elements of Globalization are not as strong as Mr.. Friedman will want to make us believe.

If Africa is not flat, the world can’t be said to be flat. In 2011, Wisped reported that Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30. 2 million km including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of the Earth’s total surface area and 20. 4 percent of the total land area. ” If this is anywhere near accurate, it is not Just mischievous but also dangerous to ignore Africa in any meaningful discussion about the globe. I am not stating these facts from a boastful standpoint. I am Just hoping to show how important Africa is on the global scale.

With an endemic lack of social amenities, infrastructure, and good education for its people – all occasioned by poor leadership, the African continent is in a sustained state of disconnection from other parts of the world. The talk of “flatness” is even more awkward with this background. Up till this date, many African countries can’t lay claim to steady electric power supply. Even when it is available, it is extremely expensive and sometimes destructive (power surges). According to Internet World Stats (http:// www. Internationalist’s. Com/states . Tm), as at 2012 SQ, internet penetration in Africa was 15. 6% I. E. 18. 7% below the world average of 34. 3%. If these statistics are to be noninsured, it is clear that Africa is still catching up with the “dotcom bubble” and of course, was not “flattened” by “flattener #2” in Mr.. Friedman’s book. For this section of the paper, I have dwelt mainly on issues from the African perspective. This is not to suggest that the theory of flatness holds true for every other part of the world. I am only using the African continent as a case study to show that the world is not flat: At least all of it is not flat.

As of today, there are many indigenous businesses in Africa that are doing well without the trans-border collaborations that Dry. Friedman talks about. Mr.. Alike Tangoed is the Chairman, CEO of Tangoed group of companies. He was listed by Forbes as the richest man in Africa and the 43rd richest man in the world. His company deals in Cement, Sugar and Flour that are produced sold and distributed in Nigeria. He is a typical example of an African business man, who runs a pan-African business, with little or no collaboration from outside.

Another one like him is Deli Tinnitus, the Chairman of Indo oil (Largest Oil Company in Africa) who has been quoted as saying he would rather recruit and train a Nigerian, than have the Job one elsewhere by other people. Friedman’s book as hubs for outsourcing and offspring are present in Africa. Infant, the socio-economic status of most Asians and Africans are very similar and that is one of the reasons why no one would think of outsourcing businesses from Africa to some other places. It appears that the world in Mr.. Friedman’s view revolves-only around Europe, Asia and America.

This is evidenced in his list of “flatterers”: there is not one that relates directly to, or affects the African continent in any real way. Take for instance, the Berlin wall. Its destruction was said to be one of the flatterers of the world, but the only effect it had on Africa was mainly political and hardly economical. It only made African leaders and countries get the feel that democracy seems to be the order of the “new world”. Apart from this effect, not much changed economically. Changes that have happened since the book was written Since Friedman wrote his book, the world economic balance has tilted significantly.

The last recession had hit hard and left an indelible mark on the global economy. Governments have resorted to artificial interference in the running of their economies, so as to protect whatever Jobs they could, from going abroad. In fact, a new term has since emerged: “Decentralization”. (Decentralization is simply a term that describes the reversal of major trans-border business alliances and trans-global business formats). By and large, more stringent and protectionist government policies have reversed globalization by a great deal.

This has made our world even less flat than Friedman would have expected it to be. The trajectory has changed, at least for now, with most nations looking to try other approaches to help their equines people succeed without having to go ‘outside’ for help. Another major change that has happened is in the ownership structure of many global corporations (which used to be owned mainly by Europeans and Americans): Due to the recession, these company stocks were available at a low price and were picked up by Asian and Middle Eastern business people.

This “power shift” will definitely have effects, the extent of which will be known in coming years and even decades. A manufacturing crisis also ensued that led to the shrinking of export based economies. This was due to a huge drop in demand across the globe. Many export- based economies shrunk and had to diversify into other areas for sustenance. Apart from oil exporting countries and regions, every other region had to dig deeper and look desperately into other areas for survival. One of the many areas that were delved into is tourism.

One major factor that influenced the outsourcing and offspring decisions that the world. Chief among these readily available cheaper factors is labor. Due to endemic unemployment in developing nations, people take up Jobs or tasks for an unbelievably low compensation rate. That too is changing as these workers are lacing more demands on their employers in terms of benefits and compensation. Activists have also increased their clamor for better standards in places where businesses ran to, to cut costs.

A typical example of this occurrence is found in Bangladesh where building collapses and fire incidents that led to the loss of over a thousand lives in the last two years is being blamed on Walter and other international brands. The argument is that if Walter insisted on decent working conditions for its suppliers’ employees, those lives wouldn’t have been lost. Today, impasses like Walter and Apple are facing increased pressure from activists to improve the working conditions in those factories and sweat shops that supply them goods. Of course, if the conditions are improved as requested, the costs would go up automatically.

Labor costs are beginning to go up in those places too and there is a greater likelihood that they would keep going up, especially now that there is more awareness on the plight of the “deprived” workers of the developing world. Companies are being named and shamed in the onslaught against cheap labor and indecent work environment. If this trend continues, the difference in cost between doing business in the advanced nations and doing business in the developing nations will shrink so much that, there would be no Justification for outsourcing or offspring. This is “desalination” at its best.

With the way things are going, if any book would be written about globalization in 2023, it would contain a chronicle of a worldwide economic movement that thrived mainly in parts of Asia, Europe and America and was cut short Just before it could get to other parts of the world. This is so because while many of those factors that railed globalization are still here, distrust and suspicion amongst nations has spurred governments to put in artificial measures to keep businesses within borders and prevent – as much as possible – trans-border synergy and collaboration.

A typical evidence of distrust and its effect would be found with a study of American and Chinese relations over the last two decades. Personal impact of the changing paradigms As an African from a developing country, who never traveled out of his country until last year (2012), I am still coming to terms with the realities of the developed world. My major in Business administration is opening my eyes to a lot of issues in the modern world and I must confess that the mental picture of the world that I had as I grew up is consistently being replaced with strange pictures of new realities.

When I was growing up, it was very certain that all you needed to do well in life was to do well in class. No matter what, a perfect understanding of your class texts was enough to give you an edge and make you a “manager” (that was the local parlance for any executive position). Know and do more to be relevant, I have to compete against more people many of ho have the luxury of superior educational quality and greater support from their governments. These realities aren’t Just unsettling, they are also disturbing. A new order is in town and I don’t seem to know where I stand or which way to turn.

It is not all gloom and doom for me as I believe that the struggles of growing up and the experiences that came with them left me with sufficient ingenuity to cope with the challenges of today. I think it would be of help for me to leverage on my people skills (which is a must have in the contemporary African society) because that seems to be the icing on the cake that one needs to stand out. I am of the belief that one needs to know how best to understand people, appeal to their desires and connect with them in a special way.

Experience has shown me over the years that once such a connection is achieved, one wouldn’t Just have won a client, but one would have started a word-of- mouth campaign that would go a long way. Having said these, I think it is important to stay open and flexible as the world keeps changing at a very fast rate. Part of the plans I have is to learn at least, two new languages within the next five years. On an even more personal level, I am of the belief that the African continent – now ore than ever, is emerging and would need an unprecedented amount of sound minds to drive its emergence on the world economic stage.

I want to position myself such that when the opportunities start opening up, I would be very ready for them. It is out of the understanding of a people that one can know their needs and it is only when the needs are well known that they can be met appropriately. Homegrown solutions – in my opinion would always work better than imported solutions of the same quality. Professionally, I would keep improving the knowledge I have on whatever I find myself doing per time, and also expand my general knowledge base.

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A critique of Thomas Friedman's bestseller Assignment. (2020, May 06). Retrieved October 31, 2020, from https://anyassignment.com/writing/a-critique-of-thomas-friedmans-bestseller-assignment-44199/