Books to Get You Thinking

Technology has transformed the dynamics of business operations everywhere, and has led to the rise of a new world order where corporations and the workforce are no longer confined to the boundaries of a specific country. Last month’s book selections highlighted some aspects of globalization. This month’s picks continue this exploration. The books I selected for you this month discuss, analyze and focus on the social and cultural aspects of globalization and the implications for the world’s poorest nations.

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty - First Century Further Updated and Expanded by Thomas Friedman. This revised edition of Friedman’s original bestseller published in 2005, provides a lucid exposition of how digital technology advances in the past fifteen years, most notably the spread of the Internet to remote areas of the world, have transformed the way global business is conducted. By providing tools of communication it has broken down all barriers and empowered the people allowing them to connect, collaborate and compete. The result has been economic turnarounds in many emerging economies through the flow of jobs to these countries. At the same time the author also analyzes the negative aspects of the economic surge in many parts of the world on the environment and on society as a whole. Throughout the book Friedman intersperses his theoretical treatise with interesting examples drawn from well known corporations such as Wal-Mart and Dell. Two new chapters have been added in the revised edition that includes a discussion on the emerging role of the social entrepreneur in the new global environment.
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Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz follows up on his earlier book, Globalization and its Discontents with a sequel, Making Globalization Work. The author who worked as senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank from 1997-2000 discusses why globalization has failed so far in facilitating sustainable economic growth in several developing countries and what steps developed countries can take to ensure that global trade and international foreign aid actually succeed in bolstering the economic structure of some of the world’s poorest countries. The author provides a unique perspective on how the economic liberalization process in developing countries often leads to income disparities, social tensions and the undermining of underlying democratic processes in these countries. The sudden accelerated development that has followed the flow of capital and jobs from outside have also resulted in a surge in the demand for energy and natural resources with serious implications for global warming. To counteract such negative aspects of globalization Joseph Stiglitz emphasizes the importance of setting up a global governance system that would also ensure that globalization actually leads to the structural transformation of developing economies and to the eradication of poverty.
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The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey D. Sachs
Jeffrey Sachs, a leading development economist takes up the problem of global poverty in this important book. Having travelled extensively to some of the world’s poorest countries, the author uses his extensive knowledge and understanding to develop a compelling blueprint for eradicating poverty. The premise of the book is that poverty is a global problem which the industrialized nations can address effectively through policies that direct technology and capital towards developing infrastructure in the present day economically isolated countries. This would help connect the economies of countries such as Africa to the outside world and open them up to global trade. The author highlights the importance of transforming aid from developed countries into a tool that empowers poorer nations, equipping them with the resources needed to develop and sustain economic growth. The author gives an interesting analogy of providing aid in the form of a fishing rod that enables people to fish for themselves instead of aid comprised of donations of fish. Transfer of agriculture technology from developed countries could take the form of simple irrigation systems and fertilizers to help strengthen the vital agriculture sector in developing countries and counter the challenge of global poverty.
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There are many more exciting titles on our shelves so be sure to check back for more books to get you thinking!

- Nita Mathur

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