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The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization

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  • Posted November 13, 2009

    Theories Intact, Examples Outdated

    This book to awhile to read due to the fact that I had the large print edition so looking at it was daunting but it was worth it in the end. I enjoyed the various examples that were provided to explain The Golden Straitjacket, the Electronic Hers, Microchip Immune Deficiency and all the other terminology that he created. While the examples were interesting, they had less of an impact than they would've had a decade ago when the book was published. Even with a decade since its publication, the theories behind the book are sound and can still be seen today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

    The Lexus and the Olive Tree

    Friedman's analysis of cultural trends and events enlightens readers and explores how we can hone globalization to better mankind. He's unique terminology and concepts set him apart from the rest. A piece of intellectual bliss that captivates readers.

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An excellent introduction to Friedman's work.

    I felt it was my duty as an econ nerd and (newly!) certified economics teacher to see what Thomas Friedman is all about. From his New York Times column to the Sunday morning political talk shows, to documentaries, Friedman was everywhere I turned, and I knew nothing about him.<BR/><BR/>Friedman, it turns out, is both a brilliant scholar of the globalization wave that is quickly sweeping across the globe; he is also the system's main cheerleader. He describes the new world order all the way from a birds-eye view of the planet down to two customers interacting on the street. Impressive writing, and highly recommended as a primer on the topic. He's got the chops to back up all the buzz.<BR/><BR/>That being said, I gave The Lexus and the Olive Tree four stars for a reason. This book was originally written in the late nineties, with the "newly updated and expanded edition" I own coming out around the end of 2000. The "fast world" Friedman talks about so often in his book has ironically turned against him by prematurely aging his book. While the underlying theories are still sound, it's lost it's edge a little bit. Friedman believed that by now we'd all be surfing the internet...on our pagers. He also brags about his PC equipped with the latest technology: A Pentium II processor (max speed: 0.45 GHz) and the latest operating system: Windows 98. Whoa. Some of Friedman's guesses sound remarkably familiar. Phones we can send messages on make me think of text messages and reading e-mail on BlackBerries.<BR/><BR/>This book may be getting a little rusty, but it's still a fascinating, education, mind-blowing ride through the world as it was, the world as it is today, and the world as it might be tomorrow. Final verdict: worth the $15

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2008

    Required to make globalization sustainable

    The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman presents the case that globalization is inevitable, and we should accept it. His style is to utilize examples from his many trips abroad for The New York Times and how each one proves a point. For example, he discusses how in the smallest, most distant Chinese village during an election for local leadership, the candidates promised to bring fiber-optic cable to the community so that everyone can have telephone. In the next village, the candidate wanted telephones so that their window factory could sell abroad and earn more money. He sees, in this story that the desire of individuals to raise their standard of living, to get their ¿Lexus,¿ they will reach beyond their local community, their history, their ¿olive tree¿ and that globalization is one of the most effective and efficient ways to improve their lives. The issue for each country or society is how to control globalization so that it is a force for good and increases the standard of living for all. Friedman believes that globalization without governmental restraints to protect people and local culture will not be sustainable. One alternative way to fight globalization is ¿step off,¿ to somehow create walls so that the society is not linked to the rest of world. This he believes leads to a lower standard of living and the citizens will revolt or leave. In general, he believes government can be a force for good. In many ways, more than government, he argues that globalization and a market based economy together are a force for good. His most famous example is his Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention, which is that any country that has a McDonalds franchise never started a war against another country with a McDonalds. The reason he claims is that once a country reaches a socio-economic level to support a McDonalds it will not risk that new standard of living in a costly war. Instead the citizens will force the government to consider other means of conflict resolution. The McDonalds corporate staff researched recent wars and proved his point. The recent war in the Balkans does not meet his strict standard as the war in the end was between the Serbs and NATO, which is not a country. While one may quibble with that, the larger point that higher standards of living encourage citizens to develop economic solutions to problems rather than violent ones, such as war, seems to be true. Friedman argues at the end of the book that for globalization to be sustainable it must be able to put a human face on the powerful, brutal forces of the marketplace. He believes there are three areas to focus on ¿ encouraging entrepreneurship because it is the driver of a growing economy, retraining and educating workers for ever more sophisticated jobs as that will help workers deal with reality, and maintaining some parts of the safety net, although which parts he does not say.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2006

    Good general overview of globalization..

    As stated in some of the other reviews, the basis for much of this book is the author's travels with respect to his economic reporting. I prefer this to a university professor who probably has never left campus. The downside of this is you can't hit every subject and its seemingly limitless cause and effects like Nafta. Parts of this book are a bit dated (he holds up Enron and Compaq as model companies)but the basis for the book is still very sound and easy to read. Some may wish for a more technical economics books, one that no one would read or understand. I wish the book came off more critical of the subject matter, but the author's enthusiasm helps keep you reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2005

    Globalisation for Dummies

    Friedman's narration makes a serious topic very readable and easy to understand for everybody. Anecdotes from all across the globe to highlight his points are a truly wonderful. A must reading for every global manager / aspiring manager. However, his conclusions sometimes tend to be over-simplified. The book could also be titled America's Gift to Mankind - The Free Market System.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2004

    Globalization truly defined from an experienced perspective

    The book was recommended to me by my roomate this summer who told me that it is the one book that educated him the most in his undergraduate college career. I would almost have to agree with him that The Lexus & the Olive Tree is one of the most intellectual captivating books on our world today as I know it. First the book values describing various economies and countries with examples from prior history and current times. Then Friedman defines our technological revolution, the so called 'Electronic Herd'. He describes in great detail technology and the effects it has played and currently playing on society. Finally he finishes with the role of the U.S. as a hegemon and our responsibilities. He concludes with the role of God and possible freedoms such as cyberspace that could become our foe if we don't proceed with the best behaviors. I enjoyed the book vastly for the reason of learning more about different countries and globalization. The one characteristic that I thought was over elaborated upon, I thought, was his details on the history of technology and the role it plays. Obviously he feels it is very important and I definately wouldn't disagree, but sometimes I was thinking to myself enough already! Lets move on to something else. For all of these reasons I would recommend the book to anyone and give it four out of five stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2003

    A classic on globalization

    This book has been around for quite a while. It is regarded by many of my friends as their bible of globalization. It describes the processes and events that have shaped the current world economic and social order. Most interesting were the discussions of financial, technological and political events of the last ten years and their implications in setting a new World Order to replace the Cold War Order. The different influences, backlashes, and arguments for, and against, the process of globalization were explored in various levels of detail. This book really was a perfect way to end my world history survey, by bringing the various stories together in a modern examination. This is a very famous book for a good reason. The author is so well traveled and has seen so much, that his knowledge and detail is at times overwhelming and a bit painstaking. His tendency to offer pop-culture examples of different social trends was very enjoyable, with many references to commercials and advertisements as being symbolic of more general social realities. I felt the book overall story is so well told, and the flow so consistent, that I enjoyed picking this book up from start to finish. This book was fascinating to see how the rest of society is coming to appreciate the diversity of the world and the wide array of problems facing us all. The main failure of the book was that it offered no coherent framework for bringing it all together, which I believe exists. The author seemed confused and bewildered by the events of our generation, and he even goes as far to critique others who have tried to make historical frameworks. But in the end, he is a journalist, and he does not seem willing to take that step into philosopher and historian that would be necessary for such a leap. Therefore I could not bring myself to regard this book as more than a long article on the state of affairs of the world, with no conclusion or solution at the end. But I felt it was a very enjoyable, informative, and enlightening book at any rate, and I highly recommend it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2001

    Economic Globolization

    The Lexus and the Olive Tree is a great book that describes the effects of globalization on the economy. The Lexus symbolizes the new system of economics which has the new and improved technology, and information about almost anything. The olive tree is the old way or the economy without the new technology and information and Finance. The basic idea of this book is globalization and how the world will have to adapt to it or get left behind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2001

    Will they ever be in equilibrium? The balance between the Lexus and the Olive Tree.

    A profoundly descriptive investigation of the most significant trend in the world today, The Lexus and the Olive Tree represents an interaction between the modern system of globalisation and the historical forces of tradition, culture, and community. This book is essential for anyone who appreciates and wants to expand his or her knowledge on the issue of global integration. Although it may be a little more demanding on students, it will provide the seasoned professional with many tools needed to understand this changing global economy within which we live.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2001

    No, Not Orange Juice--Oranges!

    Thomas L. Friedman has done it again. The impossibility of restricting information in the Internet age, the impracticality of slowing down innovation in the computer age, and the futility of forbidding foreign investment in the international-banking age are the main themes that run through this well-written study of globalization and its consequences for our increasingly fast-paced, increasingly smaller planet. This book is head and shoulders above the usual state-of-the-world-for-the-educated-masses sort of thing. It's fun, lively and even self-deprecating (as when Friedman shares his addiction to oranges with us and the trouble he has communicating with room services that he wants not orange slices or orange juice, but whole ORANGES!). Undoubtedly many people will disagree with Friedman's thesis that technology in its global reach will encourage the production of goods and services 'farther, faster, deeper and cheaper'--or, even so, many believe that our production and consumption habits may be killing us, not only from an ecological but from a spiritual point of view. But despite its relentless optimism 'The Lexus and the Olive Tree' is a thoughtful study and deserves to be read. The new paperback has been updated.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 1999


    Our Olive Tree in today's society is very well present and has been for ages. The Lexus is nothing much than an improved society as it is increased in technology and marketing. The author states that in economics, less developed countries tend to focus on nurturing their own national industries. In old economic systems the only threat a nation had was from its closest neighbors taking away from you. But now in this new Lexus system, many nations are threatened by anonymous, transitional, standardizing marketing forces and technologies that make up today's economic system. The global system has become a threat on the face of this earth. Society will be forced to adapt to changes or struggle to keep up with developed nations. We must constantly build a better Lexus or economic system to drive it out into the world. We must be able to function in any nation and we must become more united in this global system if there is any hope for a positive future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 1999

    Capitalism in the world

    Capitalism has given birth to the capitalist world economy, which has the domoinated nation. Our Olive tree in today's society is very well present and has been for ages. Due to the Lexus or may I say our new and improved economy, technology, and marketing forces e.t.a The global system has become a threat on the face of the earth. The economic global system is changing and we realize it everyday. Society will be forced to flow with these changes or keep up with the paste. There is a gateway, it is connecting. We must become more united in this global system.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 1999

    The lexus and the olive tree

    The lexus and the olive tree is a very good book.This book preaches the gospel of globalization.Friedman uses a lot of metaphors and illustrations, which were very helpful and made the book easier to understand.Like pariables in the Holy books his stories contain deeper meanings,which everyone can relate to.Overall the book really gives a good insight on what is going on in the world today and I would recommend this book for all students of business and business owners.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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