Friday, April 15, 2005

Fifty years ago today, Ray Kroc started up a company in Des Plaines, Illinois that would later become synonymous with globalization. As some of you may know, that company was McDonald's.

I'm tempted here to write an encomium on great french fries, but that would be missing the point. The spectacular success McDonald's has enjoyed is as much a result of the emergence of a new global order as it is its own business practices. Unlike fifty years ago, there now exists a vast community of countries with compatible legal and proprietary systems; McDonald's has simply done the best job of exploiting new markets as soon as they emerge in stable form.

The greatest testament to all this? In April 1955, Time had only recently run a "Shake-Up in the Kremlin" cover story on Nikita Khrushchev. Today, the most frequented McDonald's in the world is in, of all places, Russia.


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