Thomas Friedman (1953- )
American journalist and expert on globalization (pictured right), terrorism and climate change.
Lexus and the Olive Tree
(see Lexus and
the Olive Tree in the Business Books section for more detail).
Global society should balance the:
- Lexus (the wealth creating global economy).
- Olive tree (preserving the identity of individuals,
communities and countries).
Key quote on globalization
A healthy global society is one that can balance the Lexus and the olive tree all the time.
The World is Flat
Ten forces have made the world “flat” i.e. globally interconnected and competitive with
companies competing on a level playing field:
1. The collapse of
Capitalism spread to Eastern Europe (after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989) and the Far East (including
2. The Internet
Linking people in a global information network.
3. Work flow software
Enabling computers to communicate with each other globally.
Free software and information and network sites like Wikipedia and blogs.
“The most disruptive force of all”, says Friedman.
Buying resources from foreign suppliers.
Transferring a company’s activities (like production) abroad to benefit from skilled employees at lower
7. Supply chaining
Global suppliers, retailers and customers.
The “Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention” states that two countries in the same global
supply chain will never fight each other.
Employees providing services to other companies.
Using search engines like Google to expand your knowledge.
Digital mobile devices like mobile phones and iPods.
Key quotes on
There will be plenty of good jobs out there in the flat world for people with the knowledge and ideas to seize
Girls, finish your homework - people in China and India are starving for your jobs. - Friedman’s advice to
his two daughters.
Key quotes on knowledge and
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
We simply are not educating, or even interesting, enough of our own young people in advanced math, science, and
In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears - and that is
Hot, Flat and Crowded
The world is:
change (or global warming) will destroy us, unless leaders have the courage to give it top
priority and introduce a “green revolution" based on:
- conservation of nature and
This refers to the globalization of the world
economy which leads to:
Growing world population (including more wealthy
middle class people in industrializing countries like China and India).
This leads to:
Key quotes on climate
“The ability to develop clean power and energy-efficient technologies is going to become the defining measure of
a country’s economic standing, environmental health, energy security and national security over the next fifty
Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth (quoting a Norwegian
That Used to Be Us written
with Michael Mandelbaum ,pictured right
America needs purpose, leadership and resolve to solve its big problems:
1. Poor education
(particularly in mathematics and science).
Success has made Americans lazy.
2. Climate change
and energy shortages
In 2009 America spent more on potato chips than energy research and development
3. Lack of political consensus
Everyone must co-operate and make sacrifices to achieve a common purpose, as they did in Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal
4. Decline of manufacturing and innovation
People must take responsibility for continuous learning and innovation.
5. Global competition
Other countries (like China) are performing better, particularly in education.
6. Huge government deficit
This has big political and social consequences because:
- the deficit is heavily financed by China
- an ageing population will hugely increase health and social care spending
Key quotes (on America)
Nations that don't invest in their future tend not to do well there
The future of the country is in our hands, as it was for the GIs on the beaches of Normandy.
Our problem is not China...Our problem is us.