Indiana, India, and globalization

In The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman discusses how in our flattening, globalized world, determining just who is getting exploited isn’t always that simple.

Consider this. The state of Indiana contracted with an outsourcing firm in India to create a better, more streamlined unemployment claims processing system for them. The firm in India bid $8.1 million less than anyone else. Of course, when the politicos learned about this, they huffed and puffed and blew the deal down, replacing it with a much more expensive and probably worse system.

Friedman asks, ok, who is the exploiter? Indiana for trying to use cheaper (but still highly qualified labor) or India for trying to grab work from the US? Did Indiana exploit their own citizens by deliberately paying too much for something? And who will the traditional Left support here, Indiana labor or the India Third World workers?

He sees a shift in alliances coming. Republican protectionists might align with US unions and anti-globalization activists against Democratic social liberals and the free trade business wing of the Republican Party. He calls this the Wall Party vs.the Web Party. It could happen.

  • woody

    If the system they would have gotten from India is like those most corporate groups have gotten, it would be poorly designed, hard to navigate, and wound up needing to be scrapped anyway. I’ve worked for 3 large name firms that outsourced to India. They had a team in the US looking over what they were doing, and in the end wound up scrapping all of the input from India and re-writing from scratch using local people because the quality was so poor.

    Reality is when it comes to usable systems, for the most part you get what you pay for. Buy cheep, from a country where the primary language doesn’t match yours, and theres a good chance you won’t get what you want.

  • concerned citizen

    I would much rather the discourse on Globalization came from economists like Joesph Stiglitz (Nobel winner for economics and was Chief Economist at World Bank), Paul Krugman (Princeton), Pankaj Ghemawat (Harvard)etc. Ted Koppel interviews Friedman and Joseph Stiglitz, who ofcourse doesnt find a mention in Friedman’s book.

    Two books to read, which offer a counterperspective to Friedman’s “The World is Flat.”

    The Harvard Professor, Pankaj Ghemawat’s latest book, “Redefining Global Strategy,” is more academically inclined. I read an article of his published in the journal, “Foreign Policy”, where he argues that the world is, at best, only semi-globalized. His argument being that Cultural, Administrative, Geographic and Economic aspects of a nation come in the way of total globalization from taking place and cites examples of the same.

    The other small, but interesting book, is by Aronica and Ramdoo, “The World is Flat? A Critical Analysis of Thomas Friedman’s New York Times Bestseller.” It is a small book compared to the 600 page tome by Friedman, and aimed at the common man and students alike. As popular as the book may be, some reviewers assert that by what it leaves out, Friedman’s book is dangerous. The authors point to the fact that there isn’t a single table or data footnote in Friedman’s entire book. “Globalization is the greatest reorganization of the world since the Industrial Revolution,” says Aronica. Aronica and Ramdoo conclude by listing over twenty action items that point the way forward, and they provide a comprehensive, yet concise, framework for understanding the critical issues of globalization.

    You may want to see
    and watch
    for an interesting counterperspective on Friedman’s
    “The World is Flat”.

    Also a really interesting 6 min wake-up call: Shift Happens!

    There is also a companion book listed: Extreme Competition: Innovation and the Great 21st Century Business Reformation

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