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MSOD 619
Post American World by Fareed Zakaria
Book Summary Notes by:
Jennifer Case, Marco Cassone, Lisa Dean, Louise Keefe and Juliet Irwin

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the book you read.
What spoke to you? (Contributions by all; edited by Marco)
The US has created an environment of fear that has us spooked; sensationalism in our media
(i.e., the War on Terror since 9/11) has made us alarmist and overactive in our decision-
making and foreign policy. FDR said, We have nothing to fear but fear itself, at a time with
conditions far worse than today. If we realized how relatively good things are, that we have
few true crises to take on, and that we need not turn emerging powers into threats, we could
find ourselves in an excellent position to facilitate growing the world economy. Our
unilateral action based on fear diminishes the legitimacy of our power to the rest of the
world; our reputation is pretty poor.
The rise of the rest points out that as developing nations (especially China & India)
contribute to the marketplace, Americas piece of the pie will necessarily diminish. American
arrogance (e.g., we dont learn other languages and are disinterested in global news or
events) will have a big cost if were not careful, especially related to education; its time for a
wake-up call for us. To put scale into perspective here: China graduates more honors students
annually than the *total* US student population.
A great quote from p. 61 that sums up a key theme is Generations from now, well look
back and realize we succeeded in the mission of creating a globalized world but forgot to
globalize ourselves along the way. Everyone used to look to the US as a supreme power to
help improve poverty, health, education, natural disaster relief, etc., but now there are other
options. We forgot to think of what part wed play one day having helped other nations
develop and contribute to the world economy.
The Standard & Poors 500 shows that 45% of profits are outside the US today, i.e., Coke.
We have prioritized the immediate gain from offshoring businesses and importing/consuming
over our own development and potential to export. In order to be the best, we have invited
ourselves (for economic reasons) into different parts of the world. Now, however, China is
essentially funding our continued blind consumerism.
Even though similar growth has occurred in other developing nations, what makes China and
India extraordinary is the scale due to their relative populations. For example, one billion
people pulled out of poverty and becoming consumers has had a huge effect on the global
economy. Its striking how interconnected we actually are; we are only starting to understand
this and see its importance.
What frustrated you? (Contributions by all; edited by Louise)
There was a tremendous amount of historical facts and data, but the author bounced around a
lot and at times was difficult to follow his logic. While interesting, it was difficult to sift
through all the data to understand his point. A more concise book about half the length may
have been more effective.
The author is from India but has been in the US for a while. Throughout the book he showed
his own personal biases, looking mainly through the lens of America and highlighting the US
as a super power but also using loaded descriptors often pointed at different political
figures. He often stated state his opinion as fact and had very few citations to back up his
stated facts.
His description of Canada as a benign neighbor and lack of acknowledgement of Canada as a
significant trading partner.
While he provides a tremendous amount of history, but spends little time on whats current or
going on in the future. The suggestions he does make at the end of the book are questionable
at best.

What excited you? (Contributions by all; edited by Jen)
The message seems to be hopeful; there is a potential for the US to play a role in China and
Indias emergence as global powers. Based on our position we are able to help facilitate.
Excited about potential for global talent.
The opportunities and possibilities that are opening for emerging markets, particularly around
a better quality of life for people in developing countries. So many more people can afford
water, food, and other important resources. The rising nations will have an opportunity to get
an education and travel (and experience the American dream). There is a hopefulness in the
younger generations growing up in the emerging countries they see endless opportunity.
The fact that the book gave us a broadened perspective about growth around the world (vs. a
competitive view).
Some of the history was really interesting (the cause and effect stories were impactful).

Whats the primary message of the book you read? (Contributions by all; edited by Juliet)
Americas lead as the economic super power is important for the world economy, world
stability, and for more collaboration between countries. The US need to continue to have the
big seat at the table so that they can continue to influence under democratic rule. Growth and
prosperity is the name of the game in this day of globalization and it is critical that the US
remains on top as an economic super power.
If the US wants to continue to be the super power, they will need to wake up, pay attention,
and learn from the past (such as mistakes made by Britain and the Soviet Union), not be
hypocritical, and do things differently. The US needs to make room at the global table and
seriously consider what multi-lateral shared power looks like.
The US will still be the strongest economic power. Dont be spooked or afraid of whats
next. Lets try not to fear the rising nations because the US will still be on top.
The US needs to maintain their competitive edge by monitoring the fast growing developing
nations, such as India and China, and keep an open market with these countries.
Globalization is about modernization, not westernization, as long as it is in favor of keeping a
democratic government (US) as the lead influencer.

Whats the secondary message? (Contributions by all; needs to be edited by Lisa)
This is a wakeup call for the US with respect to consumerism. The US is importing far more
than it is exporting and China is funding the American economy. What are the costs and
benefits of spreading consumer/capitalist behavior?
Developing and developed nations are having a negative impact on the environment. This has
implications around the globe. The US at times is acting in a hypocritical way.
Americans want to continue to be on top of the food chain, an influencer of world economy,
politics, technology, and culture. In order to maintain this, Americans need to continue to
influence the world with a Western view of modernization.
The importance of having one superpower. When there is one superpower, they have the
reserve cash, they provide relief; support other countries when they are struggling or when a
disaster happens. Zakaria argues that a period of long peace can occur when one power is
making sure the global economy is working fine, the market is stable and growing. Is the US
acting unilaterally without understanding if it can add legitimacy?
The US is exporting American culture, the American dream, and consumerism.
Messages about balance of power and education pros and cons of it, how we educate
college students but then the US doesnt provide jobs. Zakaria trys to impress upon the
importance of education and how it will move the US forward.

In what ways do I expect to see these issues manifest during the session? (Contributions by
all; edited by Louise)
During the session, as we work on projects and work with Chinese, this will help us to have a
better lens understanding Chinese perspective, broadening our global perspective, to
understand differences and challenges as we make our recommendations. We could go in
with an American lens, take into consideration where they are, where theyve been, and
where they are heading.
Due to the history of China, the action their leaders have taken over the years and
suppression of information has impacted their progress. While they are catching up in many
areas, we anticipate we will see them lagging in OD/HR practices. They may follow what
we say because they see us as innovators.
We will likely see a lack of trust, authenticity and transparency. There seems to be decades of
the Chinese being taken advantage of by different countries, and their own leaders. It will be
challenging to generate trust with them. Will building trust be different for non-American
students vs. American students? For example, will they see Canadians differently and more
of a neutral party? Building trust will likely be different for businesses that are new vs. those
we have a relationship with.
Expect to see business men eager to generate prospects, focused on money, hungry to make
business improvements.
Questions for us as MSOD students: Will we be able to really listen. Can we set aside ideas?
Can we be in someone elses shoes? Listen from a different perspective? If we dont have
that sensitivity will we be trusted?

Generate a list of things you might look for during the week in China (Contributions by all;
edited by Juliet)
When working with a government organization in China, what perspective does the central
office have versus the people from various regions? This is in light of a quote from page 95
Many of its successes and failures are a result of the lack of coordination between the center
and the regions. This problem, of spiraling decentralization, will be Chinas greatest
challenge. How does communist rule impact communications and the governance of the
regions? How does the government communicate with the regions and how do the regions
provide feedback to their government on their needs?
How do the challenges of different language and culture play into how we work together?
What factors will impact the value we can bring to our work together? Can we stay curious
and co-create together? When we do initial inquiry, how much will we understand about
what they really want? Will our interpretation throw us off because we havent had time to
build a relationship? Will moving slowly and building trust be important to adding value?
What are the Chinese impressions of us? How does that influence individuals working
together? Will it influence in what we can do together? When we do initial inquiry, how
much will we get about what they really want will that throw us off because we havent had
time to build relationship. I think we need to move slowly, we need to build trust.
How does their hierarchical approach impact us in working together? The Chinese culture is
so hierarchical here we are as students, how do they view us in that hierarchy? Will they
value our opinions? American university being viewed differently than Chinese? How does
that dynamic play in?
Will we be able to inquire with high advocacy and high inquiry? Will we be able to add value
and not be compromised by wanting to wait to see if we have a clear picture of whats