Globalization refers to the integration of people and individuals across geographic, cultural, economic, and political boundaries (Hoffman, 2002). The internet allows individuals, international corporations, and non-state actors to interact in manners that were traditionally limited to sovereign states. Although globalization is not a new concept, the advent of the internet provides millions of people access to vast amounts of knowledge and the ability to communicate near-instantaneously to various points on the globe. While Florida (2005) is accurate in his assertion that knowledge, wealth, and power are located in specific epicenters like New York, London, and Tokyo, Friedman’s (2013) statement that never before in history has a single person had access to so much data through a hand-held device is astounding.
Bostrom’s (2015) description of Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming self-aware and potentially dangerous to humanity borders more on science fiction than science fact. However, his allusion to power is accurate and relevant, mirroring Florida’s notion that parts of the globe control more access to information, and thus power. The states that have more “spiky” regions have the greater ability to influence global events and affect their futures more than countries or entities that lack the economic or technical means to best take advantage of the flattened world.
Despite the differences in opinion of Friedman (2013) and Florida (2005), both of their salient points remain valid. Globalization is not a new phenomenon, and the internet is just the latest medium for the dispersal of “walls” between states and individuals. Similarly, while the commanding players have changed throughout the centuries, there have always been “spikes” within global players where the traditional “haves” have enjoyed greater economic success and quality of life than the nations described as “have-nots;” the “spiky” regions characteristically have the most influential universities, access to financial backing, and affect information and its dispersal.(Johndornart.com, 2006)
Social media and the internet are powerful tools at my place of work, Georgia-Pacific. Despite having over 30,000 employees, Georgia-Pacific’s leadership remains in constant communication with its workers via common means like Outlook email and increasingly through Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. These latter methods provide employees instantaneous access to senior supervisors that has historically been slowed by traditional mail or pre-read emails. Employees at all levels are allowed to make suggestions to key decision-makers that may lead to long-term value creation.
While instantaneous access to leaders and information within Georgia-Pacific is beneficial to the company’s employees, there are numerous challenges. Many leaders become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data available to them in the decision-making process, which often slows the tempo of time-critical operations. Additionally, employees are often frustrated when their requests for information are not immediately answered by the recipient of their queries; as an example, human resources professionals in Georgia-Pacific, despite the aid of computerized systems, receive thousands of daily requests for information through the various electronic means available to workers. Finally, employees not familiar with social media and computer systems often find themselves overwhelmed by new information technology or unable to access data available to their peers.
Bostrom, N. (2015, March). What happens when our computers get smarter than we are? Retrieved from http://www.ted.com
Florida, R. (2005, October). The world is spiky. The Atlantic Monthly, 48-51.
Friedman, T. L. (2013, September 18). The world is flat. Retrieved from http://www.wikisummaries.org/The_World_Is_Flat
Hoffman, S. (2002, August). Clash of globalizations. Foreign Affairs, 81(4), 1-4.
Jon Dorn Cartoons, Film, Music. (2006, September 9). Retrieved from jondornart.com