role of the state


Summaries are to be sent via email before the beginning of class and answer the following questions:

  1. What are the main arguments (1 or 2) in this reading?
  2. What evidence does the author provide to support his or her argument? (5 or 6 bullets)
  3. What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of these arguments and supporting evidence compared to other readings this week or this term? (5 or 6 bullets)
  4. What questions does this reading raise? (2 or 3)
  5. Outline a study where you could follow up with this work or address shortcomings (1 or 2 lines).

Friedmann (2005) It’s a Flat World, After All. NY Times. 3 April.

Main argument

  • Technological innovations are leveling the world’s economic playing field, whereby initial advantages by industrialized regions are being quickly and easily overcome.



  • …globalized supply chain being facilitated by broadband investments, cheaper computers, email software, search engines – compartmentalized production
  • “…created a platform where intellectual work, intellectual capital, could be delivered from anywhere. It could be disaggregated, delivered, distributed, produced and put back together again”
  • Globalization 1.0 Large to medium (1492-1800) – globalizing countries for resources and imperial conquest – European drivers
  • Globalization 2.0 Medium to small (1800-2000) – globalizing companies for markets and labour  –American and European drivers
  • Globalization 3.0 – Small to tiny (2000-?) – globalizing individuals and small groups collaborating with others – driven by all colours of human rainbow
  • “When the world is flat, you can innovate without having to emigrate. This is going to get interesting. We are about to see creative destruction on steroids.”
  • 10 events converging: 1. Berlin wall made us one; 2. Netscape made internet friendly; 3. Y2K (application-to-application); 4. Outsourcing; 5. Offshoring; 6. Open sourcing; 7. Insourcing (UPS logistics); 8. Supply-chaining (Walmart); 9. Informing (Google, unlimited data); 10. Steroids (wireless and VoIP). All 10 converged ca 2000 and allowed real time collaborations without regard to geography, distance or language.
  • 1990s BRIC opened up economies, adopted new technos without sunken costs
  • “That is what is going to happen to so many jobs — they will go to that corner of the world where there is the least resistance and the most opportunity.”


  • Is Friedman’s flat world populated by uniform nation-states? Are there no (widening) differences within industrialized and industrializing countries?
  • What is the role of the state? Is the national government to be responsible for “Meeting the challenges of flatism requires as comprehensive, energetic and focused a response as did meeting the challenge of Communism.” ? To whom is the challenge issued?
  • ”Today, the most profound thing to me is the fact that a 14-year-old in Romania or Bangalore or the Soviet Union or Vietnam has all the information, all the tools, all the software easily available to apply knowledge however they want,” said Marc Andreessen, a co-founder of Netscape. Is information the same as knowledge? (Information can be digitized and downloaded, but can knowledge acquired via practice and interaction as well?

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