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Competing in a Flat World: Building Enterprises for a Borderless World Hardcover – September 22, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“This is essential reading for anyone seeking to compete–and succeed–in the fl at world.”

John Hagel, Chairman of Deloitte Center of Innovation


Competing in a Flat World provides an extraordinary glimpse into a new kind of organizational architecture, one built around the notion of orchestrating resources you don’t control and doing so in a way that builds both trust and agility. This architecture may well turn out to be the dominant model of the firm for the 21st century. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to compete in a flat world. Every chapter details new and powerful ideas.”

John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and coauthor of The Only Sustainable Edge


“We are led by unstoppable economic forces to connect our resources to form smart networks, either wired or unwired. The authors bring forward the notion of ‘network orchestration,’ an almost one-size-fits-all strategy for organizations to survive and excel in an ever-flattening world.”

John Chen, Sybase Chairman, CEO and President


In the “flat world,” everything changes…above all, what it takes to run a winning company. Success is less about what the company can do itself and more about what it can connect to. Find out how it’s done, from the company that pioneered “flat world” success, Li & Fung, which produces more than $8 billion in garments and other goods for the world’s top brands and retailers–without owning a single factory.


Victor and William Fung and Jerry Wind, author of the best-selling The Power of Impossible Thinking, reveal how they’ve replaced “old-fashioned” infrastructure and huge employee bases with a fluid, ever-changing network that can design, manufacture, and deliver almost anything, anywhere. The key to success in this world is a set of principles for “network orchestration,” described for the first time in this book. They examine how these principles can be applied in manufacturing, services and other industries. They show how to build and orchestrate your own world-class global network.


    *   Compete “network vs. network”–and win!

    *   Create a “big-small” company that combines scale and agility

    *   Forge loose-tight relationships with suppliers

    *   Balance control with empowerment, stability with renewal

    *   Manage the “bumps” in the flat world–from politics to terrorism


Visit the authors' website: 

About the Author

Dr. Victor K. Fung is Group Chairman of Li & Fung. He is Vice Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard.


Dr. William K. Fung is Group Managing Director of Li & Fung. He has chaired the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Exporters’ Association. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Yoram (Jerry) Wind, the Lauder Professor and Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, is an expert, consultant, and lecturer on business buying behavior, market segmentation, and marketing strategy. His books include The Power of Impossible Thinking. He holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University.



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall; 1 edition (September 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132332906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132332903
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,156,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Victor and William Fung, group chairman and group managing director respectively of a Hong Kong-based multinational corporation specialized in sourcing, have partnered with Jerry Wind, a Wharton marketing professor and co-author of the illuminating The Power of Impossible Thinking: Transform the Business of Your Life and the Life of Your Business (2005) about strategic inflection points, to provide an exceptional how-to book focused on drilling down globalization to the level of existing businesses. The Fung brothers are authorities on the topic since their firm, Li & Fung, is one of the world's largest trading conglomerates managing the supply chain for high-volume, time-sensitive consumer goods through a network of sixty-six offices in over forty countries. Instead of investing in production facilities, the Fungs have mastered supply chain management by providing the convenience of a one-stop shop for customers through a coordinated package which runs the gamut from product design and development through raw material and factory sourcing, production planning and management, quality assurance, and export documentation to shipping consolidation.

Without the burden of unnecessary overhead, the Li & Fung business model has allowed the company to generate over $7 billion in annual revenue on an employee base of only 7,000. It is the unprecedented geographic flexibility of the firm's operations that epitomizes what Thomas Friedman talks about in his groundbreaking book,
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Format: Hardcover
Those who have read Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat no doubt recall an assertion he makes in his introduction to the second expanded version: "My use of the word `flat' does not mean equal (as in `equal incomes') and never did. It means equalizing, because flattening forces are empowering more and more individuals today to reach farther, faster, deeper, and cheaper than ever before, and that is equalizing power - and equalizing opportunity, by giving so many more people the tools and ability to connect, compete, and collaborate. In my view, this flattening of the playing field is the most important thing happening in the world today, and those that get caught up in measuring globalization purely by trade statistics - or as a purely economic phenomenon instead of one that effects everything from individual empowerment to culture to how hierarchical institutions operate - are missing the impact of this change."

Curiously, there is no reference in Friedman's book to Li & Fung, Hong Kong's largest export trading company, which has been "a flat business for a flat world" since the early 1980s. In an interview by Joan Magretta that appeared in the Harvard Business Review (September-October 1998), Group Chairman Victor Fung explains how Li & Fung reinvented itself to become and remain fast, global, and entrepreneurial. The company's new role (then and now) is to be a "network orchestrator."

In this book, Victor Fung, William Fung, and Yoram (Jerry) Wind explain how to build an enterprise for a borderless world, one that can "embrace the flat world" and understand how it works so as to take full advantage of the many new opportunities it offers.
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Format: Hardcover
The phrase, "flat world" is one of those that would have been best left unused, substituted by a more accurate one. In databases, a flat file is one where the data is in one large file with no relationship connections. When there are multiple entities with connections between them, we use the term relational database. Also, the phrase "flat world" seems to mean that everyone operates on the same level surface, which is hardly the case. There are now and always will be advantages to locating specific business activities in one location over another.
In the context of business and this book, the phrase "flat world" is used to refer to the situation where business entities have complex relationships with entities in other countries. The manufacturing process is one where the phrase "country of origin" for a product no longer has any real meaning. The parts that are created to make the final product are often manufactured in several different countries and in many cases different steps in the assembly are performed in different countries. In this situation, the only phrase that is applicable is, "country from which the finished product is shipped."
This modern world means that there are companies that serve the role of what the building trades call "general contractor." This is the person or company who organizes all of the steps in the building of a home, from the first spade of excavation until the last bit of landscaping. The general contractor may not even so much as pound a single nail in the construction, yet is essential to the development of the final product.
This book is generally a case study of a company called Li & Fung that is the manufacturing equivalent of a general contractor.
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