Global Sourcing Spotlight: Golf, Friedman, and the Benefits of Global Sourcing

Written by: Bob Duke on May 8, 2024

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When I started working on global sourcing for American Standard Circuits, a friend sent me a book by the NY Times economist Thomas Friedman called The Lexis and the Olive Tree. Well, not being a fan of the NYT or even economists as a whole, I put the book on a shelf and forgot about it until I got a call from my book-giving friend, and he asked me what I thought of the book. I mumbled something unintelligible and quickly changed the subject.

But as the conversation went on, this sly fox of a fellow made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He asked me to play golf with him at his club. Since he’s a good friend, and his club is fantastic, I accepted the invitation. Just before we ended our call, he added, “Great, we can talk about the Friedman book while we play.” Trapped! I gulped and said, “Okay.” Then I frantically went looking for the book. 

I planned to read the front and back covers and then skim some chapters to get some working knowledge of what this guy Friedman was wall about. That was it, I thought. An hour of my time at the most. 

You can probably guess where this is going. The more I read, the more intrigued I became—realizing that this writer looks at things exactly the way I do. In fact, during my years of experience in dealing with global suppliers, meeting them face to face and getting to know them as human beings (and not political friends or enemies) I realized that there was a great deal I could take away from this book and pass on to others.

So, check out the book. It’s worth your time. 

In this book, Friedman outlines several reasons why global commerce can be beneficial for the world and contribute to world peace. 
Here is my summary of some 20 points that he made in the book:

  1. Economic interdependence: Global commerce fosters economic interdependence among nations, making it less likely for them to engage in conflicts that could disrupt trade.
  2. Cultural exchange: Trade allows for the exchange of goods, services, and ideas between cultures, fostering mutual understanding and reducing cultural tensions.
  3. Conflict prevention: Nations with strong economic ties are less likely to resort to armed conflict, as it would disrupt trade and economic prosperity.
  4. Wealth creation: Global commerce creates wealth by allowing countries to specialize in the production of goods and services in which they have a comparative advantage, leading to higher living standards.
  5. Poverty reduction: Increased trade can lift millions out of poverty by providing access to global markets and job opportunities.
  6. Technology transfer: Global commerce facilitates the transfer of technology and knowledge across borders, driving innovation and development.
  7. Environmental cooperation: Economic interdependence encourages nations to cooperate on environmental issues, such as climate change and pollution, as these problems have global ramifications.
  8. Diplomatic channels: Trade relations provide diplomatic channels for resolving conflicts peacefully, as nations have a vested interest in maintaining stable trade relations.
  9. Stability: A stable global economy, fueled by trade, promotes political stability within nations and regions, reducing the likelihood of internal conflicts.
  10. Soft power: Economic strength and prosperity enhance a nation's soft power, influencing other countries through attraction and persuasion rather than coercion.
  11. Rule of law: Global commerce promotes the establishment of international norms and institutions that uphold the rule of law, fostering a more predictable and peaceful international order.
  12. Resource allocation: Trade allows for more efficient allocation of resources globally, reducing resource-related conflicts and competition.
  13. Crisis management: Interconnected economies can collaborate more effectively in times of crisis, such as natural disasters or economic downturns, promoting cooperation and solidarity.
  14. Cultural understanding: Exposure to different cultures through trade promotes empathy and understanding, reducing prejudice and xenophobia.
  15. Human rights: International trade agreements often include provisions for human rights protection, encouraging countries to improve their human rights records to participate in global commerce.
  16. Conflict resolution mechanisms: Trade agreements often include dispute resolution mechanisms, providing peaceful avenues for resolving trade disputes between nations.
  17. Infrastructure development: Trade stimulates infrastructure development, such as ports, roads, and telecommunications networks, which benefits both domestic and international communities.
  18. Job creation: Global commerce creates jobs not only in exporting industries but also in related sectors such as transportation, logistics, and services, contributing to economic stability and social cohesion.
  19. Wealth redistribution: Trade can facilitate wealth redistribution by enabling developing countries to access global markets and benefit from comparative advantages, reducing global income inequality.
  20. Shared prosperity: Ultimately, global commerce fosters a sense of shared prosperity, wherein the economic success of one nation contributes to the prosperity of others, promoting cooperation and peace on a global scale.

Do you know what’s funny? I have found all of these things to be true and then some. One of the great pleasures of my experiences with global sourcing is meeting people and developing relationships. I have come to realize that people all over the world are basically the same. We all want the same things and work hard to get them.

By the way, I did play golf with my friend, and we talked more about The Lexus and the Olive Tree than about our game. It was a great round.

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