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Online Study Guide: The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

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This is the last page of the free study guide for "The World is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman.
The complete study guide is currently available as a downloadable PDF, RTF, or MS Word DOC file from the PinkMonkey MonkeyNotes download store. The complete study guide contains summaries and notes for all of the chapters; analysis of the structure, and notable figures; important quotations and analysis; a key facts summary; a multiple-choice quiz, a quote matching quiz, a vocabulary section and suggested book report ideas and essay topics.



THE WORLD IS FLAT BY THOMAS FRIEDMAN: CHAPTER NOTES / ANALYSIS

Developing Countries and the Flat World: Chapter 10

Summary

In chapter 10, “The Virgin of Guadalupe,” Friedman considers what policies developing countries must carry out to thrive in the flattening world. Friedman asserts that the first step developing nations must take when thinking about the flat world is introspection. The country must honestly consider where it stands in relation to the ten flatteners. Next countries must commit to more open and competitive markets because these tools are the only avenue out of poverty. As Friedman has argued previously in this text, for a nation to develop in the flat world, it must cultivate three elements: infrastructure; proper education; and the right governance.


Developing nations must build business-friendly environments-- that is, they must create regulations that make it easy to start, manage, and close businesses. Friedman then offers Ireland as an example of a nation that went from “the sick man of Europe to the rich man” by addressing infrastructure, education, and governance. Today, Ireland is the richest nation in the European Union after Luxembourg. Friedman contends that the case of Ireland proves that capital does not simply seek the cheapest labor; this is why all jobs do not go to Haiti. Instead, capital seeks the most productive labor at the cheapest price. Ireland became such a success because it mastered infrastructure, education, and governance.

Friedman believes that to truly understand a country’s economic performance, one must consider its culture. Although, as Friedman is careful to point out, culture is only one of many elements and not the sole determining factor of a nation’s potential. He acknowledges that this is a controversial topic, but believes it is essential to his investigation. Friedman argues that open cultures, which are best able to adopt global best practices and willing to change--versus closed cultures, which promote tradition and national solidarity--have the best chance for success in the flat world. Friedman invokes David Landes’s argument in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations to consider how tribal culture in the Arab-Muslim world has limited various nations’ success in the flat world. Landes notes that certain cultural mores, such as preventing women from entering the public sphere, limit a nation’s development. In keeping women out of the workforce, nations that support this view eliminate half of the talent pool. Still, Friedman observes that even when nations get it right--reform wholesale, reform retail, maintain good governance, infrastructure, and education, as well as glocalize--some proceed in a sustained manner while others do not. Friedman calls the missing element “the intangible things.” Friedman boils the intangibles down to two basic elements: a willing society and leaders with vision. Finally Friedman provides a comparison between Mexico and China to show how Mexico failed and China succeeded.

Notes

This section of the text confirms that Friedman’s main concern with the flattening of the world is the U.S.’s place in the new order because it covers the rest of the world in one chapter, after having spent five chapters considering what the flat world meant for the United States. Friedman enters an interesting debate in this chapter, which Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies defined as “Yali’s Question.” Yali, a New Guinea native asked Diamond why his country had so much more stuff than New Guinea. Diamond argues that because of specific geographic, environmental, and biological forces, the fates of human societies were set by 1500. This assertion conflicts with Landes’s cultural analysis, but through comparison, might serve as an interesting way to critique Friedman. For example, does it matter that some underdeveloped nations are primarily comprised of deserts (African nations, for example). Would Friedman’s suggestions work in any geographical location as long as the culture was open to change?

This is the last page of the free study guide for "The World is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman.
The complete study guide is currently available as a downloadable PDF, RTF, or MS Word DOC file from the PinkMonkey MonkeyNotes download store. The complete study guide contains summaries and notes for all of the chapters; analysis of the structure, and notable figures; important quotations and analysis; a key facts summary; a multiple-choice quiz, a quote matching quiz, a vocabulary section and suggested book report ideas and essay topics.


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