Summary of Actually, the World Isn’t Flat

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Actually, the World Isn’t Flat summary
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In his 2012 TED Talk, globalization researcher Pankaj Ghemawat directly challenges author Thomas Friedman’s book The World Is Flat, which famously announced that globalization had flattened the playing field for businesses worldwide. Indeed, Ghemawhat skewers not just Friedman but the tyranny and complacency of popular opinion. His contrarian contribution to the globalization debate contains data, as well as a warning: Exaggerating the globalization trend isn’t just inaccurate but harmful. 

About the Speaker

Globalization researcher Pankaj Ghemawat is a professor of strategic management at IESE Business School in Spain. He is the author of World 3.0.



Data show that the world isn’t as globalized as many people think.

Champions and critics alike discuss globalization as a powerful, unstoppable force. The media, books and surveys among various social groups – including university students, global trade experts and the Harvard Business Review readership – largely suggest that an integrated, border-free world is imminent. But data defy this popular opinion.

Globalization researcher Pankaj Ghemawat examined scenarios with the potential to be either international or domestic, and he found that cross-border flows of information, people, money, and goods and services is nowhere near the levels that most people imagine. Consider the case of telephone calls, for instance. A mere 2% of all voice-calling minutes are international. Even when accounting for web-based calls, this figure doesn’t surpass 7%. Only about 3% of people permanently ...

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