|This topic was triggered by my reading of "The World is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman. I believe this may be one of the very best books I have read in the last three years. Friedman spends a lot of time describing the extent to which globalization has spread throughout the business community. He then explores the causes of this phenomenon. This is followed by a description of the implications for the future for individuals, businesses, governments and social institutions. His ability to relate anecdotal illustrations to the observable trends makes this a very enjoyable read.|
Personally, I have always struggled a bit with the balance between benefits and problems brought on by globalization. For instance, buying a foreign car may put US workers out of jobs but if the foreign car is a better value at a cheaper price where is my responsibility. Taken to the limit, if they give me the foreign car, shouldn't I take it?
The fact of the matter is, globalization is a fact of life and will continue. In Friedmans words, the world will continue to get flatter. But, what are the drivers and why is it happening so fast? Over the past few years there is evidence of a seachange brought about by continued lowered costs and improved bandwidth of communication, meteoric development of computer capacity, and the willingness and capability of people to collaborate.
But wherefore the evils? Do they exist anymore?
Another issue that bothers me is the maniacal drive to the bottom line practices by some companies. Why, for instance, does Wal-Mart continue to drive down labor even after they have driven all of the competition out of local markets.
Then there is the issue of responsible citizenship. When a company goes global, what happens to loyalties. All too often it seems like companies are skating out from under responsibilities to the home country.
this piece was written in May of 2005. In perspective, this was before the great increase in Gas prices and before Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.