Thomas Friedman, Lexus and the Olive Tree (1999)
American New York Times journalist and expert on globalization (pictured right), terrorism and climate
Thomas Friedman in the
Management Gurus section.
Global society should...
- Lexus (the wealth creating global economy).
- Olive tree (preserving the identity of individuals, communities and
Characteristics of this globalized
1. Democratization of technology, finance and
Computers and the Internet give worldwide access to knowledge and information that can be used economically and
Global financial markets and institutions (the “Economic Herd”) can
- trigger global economic crises.
- finance economic expansion based on economic and political reforms
2. Microchip Immune Deficiency (MIDS)
Countries must find a cure to this fatal disease of resisting new information technology (see point 1). Global
competitiveness depends on new technology, knowledge, creativity and learning.
3. The Golden Straitjacket
After the failure of communism, countries are prepared to:
- accept the “golden straitjacket” of a free market economy.
- expose themselves to global competition, economic change and innovation.
So Joseph Schumpeter’s idea of creative destruction is vital.
4. Inequality and political opposition
Globalization may be unpopular because it:
- increases the gap between the rich and the poor within and between countries.
- threatens people’s cultural identity.
5. Superpower USA
The USA can thrive in a globalized world because of its:
- language (English is spoken globally).
- democracy and political stability.
- innovation, creativity and freedom of
But America can’t be complacent because of:
- increasing global competition.
- international terrorism in an interconnected, politically unstable world.
6. Environmental problems
Globalization increases prosperity, so leading to:
Globalization can improve international relations through:
- economic interdependence.
- worldwide Americanization.
“There are no enemies only competitors”, says Friedman.
The “Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention” states that two countries will
never fight each other, if they both have McDonald’s restaurants.
8. Balance between the trapeze, trampoline and safety
A balance has to be struck between the:
- trapeze (allowing people to take risks and become entrepreneurs)
- trampoline (new skills and lifelong learning)
- safety net (welfare payments and health care for the poorly educated losers from
Key quotes on globalization
A healthy global society is one that can balance the Lexus and the olive tree all the time.
If globalization were a sport, it would be the 100-metre dash, over and over and over. And no matter how many
times you win, you have to race again the next day.
The driving idea behind globalization is free-market capitalism.
In the era of globalization knowledge is the key to economic growth.
Key quote on education and training
In an age when technological change is so rapid, and the walls around companies and countries so small, only new
skills and lifelong learning can ensure job security.