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Ferguson, The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power and Friedman, Thank You for Being Late, Organization Studies


Given the increased complexity of our global world, many authors have been trying to make sense of the numerous challenges that we face (Fiss & Hirsch, 2005). In this review, we take two different,but complementary perspectives, on these challenges. To this end, we review two very important recent books on this matter that are written by two of the keenest observers and commentators on today’s world developments, Thomas Friedman and Niall Ferguson. Friedman’s book Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (2016), and Ferguson’s The Square and the Tower: Networks and power, from the Freemasons to Facebook (2017), offer very different interpretations and guides to doing just that, making sense of today’s increasingly complex challenges. Friedman identifies three major accelerations (technological change, digital globalization and climate change) that disrupt and displace our global reality. And, although he acknowledges that these accelerations challenge our social structures, which are not ready to deal with them, he remains optimistic about the opportunities these challenges provide us. Ferguson, on the other hand, draws on a detailed historical analysis in what he conceives to be a major theme in human history; i.e. the interplay between social networks and hierarchies. He makes the point that human history can be characterized as long epochs, where hierarchical structures dominated humanity, and more dynamic eras, where networks had an advantage over hierarchies. Following a rather pessimistic approach, he argues that many times in history, times disturbingly similar to the current ones, networks have run amok, plunging their societies into bloodshed.



Paul Hirsch, Stelios Zyglidopoulos

Date Published



Hirsch, Paul, and Stelios Zyglidopoulos. 2019. Ferguson, The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power and Friedman, Thank You for Being Late. Organization Studies.


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