India is known as the land of culture and tradition and is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Indian culture is rich and unique in its own ways. In India manners and etiquettes, the style of communication, values and beliefs are vital components of the culture. Even though India has accepted the modern means of living and people have improved their lifestyle but the traditions and values are still the same. These traditions, customs and values together make India a very unique country. India is a secular country where many culture and religions are flourishing with peace and prosperity because the culture and tradition in India is deeply rooted within the minds and hearts of people which they have gained from their rich culture.
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Due to globalization and advancement in technology things have changed and today people are living and working in a global market place where they are eating Indian food, wearing Chinese garments, driving German cars and working in an American company. The world is changing at a tremendous pace and so is India. Because of consistent growth performance and abundant high skilled man power India is attracting enormous opportunities for foreign investments which brings a lot of multi-national corporations and diverse culture in working in India. India is also recognized for its fiercely competitive education system and is one of the largest providers of experienced scientists, engineers and technicians, making it an attractive market for foreign business. Globalization has several pros and cons, as globalization enhances cross cultural effectiveness and communication level between cultures on the other hand cultural differences are also highlighted in globalization. India is very complex country and the customs and traditions are very rigid and people or organization who come to India for business often find that the course of success in India is not very smooth because different parts of India has different customs and traditions. The culture of India has been shaped by the long history of India, its unique geography and the absorption of customs, traditions and ideas from some of its neighbours as well as British culture has made India a truly diverse country in its own way. For many organizations this need will demand thinking more clearly about cross-cultural issues and more overtly and systematically understanding and valuing the benefits of diversity in international teams. To overcome these issues the organisations should possess or requires certain skills related to team building, understanding the benefits of different cultures, tradition, values and behaviours (India Culture: Culture of India, 2009) (International Business Tour: Business Culture in India and China, 2010) (Doing Business In India: Indian Social and Business Culture, 2007).
Problems and Issues of Cross Cultural Management in India: (Hofstede Analysis)
The Hofstede analysis for India suggests a large power distance society and all other measures are relatively moderate. In high power distance society employees tend to work and behave in a particular way because they accept that they will be directed to do so by the top management of the organisation.This Power Distance score for India indicate a high level of inequality in the distribution of power and wealth within the society. This condition is not necessarily weakened upon the population, but rather accepted by the population as a cultural norm. In India, social hierarchies are very much in place and even at work it is not easy to be friendly with one’s boss in most organizations. Calling a person who secure high post in the organization by his/her first name is rare in India. In fact abuse by seniors is also common and usually the employee is helpless and his only recourse is to leave. So in India power means everything and most of the people in business and in politics are misusing their power that is why there is a high level of inequality in distribution of wealth and power in India. Indian people are very much sensitive to rank and position. They are used to a system of hierarchy in the work-place; senior colleagues are obeyed and respected. Discussion is almost always lead by the most senior person. People respect only those who are rich and the poor doesn’t hold much power and control in the society (ITIM International: Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimension India, 2009) (India Business Etiquette, Vital manners, cross-cultural management, 2008) (Nita, 2008).
This dimension reflects the extent to which any individual values self-determination as opposed to its behaviour being determined by the collective will of a group or organization.In India there is no custom for rewarding individuals of a company that are practical in their career advancement. This concept is traditional to an individualistic culture, which India is not. This means that nobody can expect managers in India to ask for decisions from an employee of a company without them contacting someone of authority first. Doing business in India involves building relationships and trust. Indians only deal favorably with those they know and trust even at the expense of profitable deals. It is vital that a good working relationship is formed with any business partner. This must take place on a business level, for business advancement and exhibiting the positive traits of trustworthiness and honour from the business partners. Business dealings in India which involves negotiations will always be at a slow pace. Decisions are always made when the trust has fully made. Decisions are always made by the top management. Indians take their time to pronounce their decisions so don’t be impatient because impatience is viewed as discourteous (ITIM International: Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimension India, 2009) (India Business Etiquette, Vital manners, cross-cultural management, 2008) (Nita, 2008).
India has the high rate in Masculinity dimension of Hofstede cultural analysis. The higher the country ranks in this dimension, the greater the gap between values of men and women. India has witnessed gender inequality from its early history due to its socio-economic and religious practices that resulted in a wide gap between the position of men and women in the society. For parents, they value boys more than girls as boys generally do more laborious tasks and are normally become the breadwinners. For a girl, being good mother and housewife is valued. Women possess a respectable position in the society and business in India. Due to higher masculinity men are exposed to all the business work and women have to take care of the family and children but in recent years women also had joined hands with men in business arena and are doing well in their respective fields (best example is Indra Nooyi CEO of PepciCo. India) but that freedom is allowed mainly in urban areas but in rural areas the values and customs for women is still very strict and traditional (ITIM International: Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimension India, 2009) (India Business Etiquette, Vital manners, cross-cultural management, 2008) (Nita, 2008).
This dimension by Hofstede is concerned with employees’ tolerance of ambiguity or uncertainty in their working environment. Normally a low score is ‘good’, as it means that the society has fewer rules and does not attempt to control all outcomes and results. It also means a greater level of tolerance for a variety of ideas, thoughts, and beliefs and a high tolerance for uncertainty in business and in daily working. Collaborating on complex problems in business will be much easier in India as long as you have establishes an authority or command. Indian people believe in fate and destiny and think that everything happens for a reason and human beings don’t have much control over their lives and they should accept everything as it is. So, many of the important decision are also left on fate and destiny and people believes that everything has a specific time to happen and they will happen accordingly. Low score in this dimension of India reflects that India facilitates achievement and success, there should be minimum rules for the people to flourish in their field and it facilitates open ended learning but success and achievement can also be achieved by having set rules and regulations and the best example of this are most of the western countries like U.K, France and Germany who have achieved success on the basis of their set rules and regulations (ITIM International: Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimension India, 2009) (India Business Etiquette, Vital manners, cross-cultural management, 2008) (Nita, 2008).
Long-term Orientation: India’s Long Term Orientation Dimension rank is high as compared to the world average. India has a very high score meaning that their culture is more constant and cautious. Indian’s have a sense of shame that is shared amongst a group of people and relationships are viewed by order of status. It is expected that the Indian businessperson will need to plan further out in their business plans because of their need for Long-Term Orientations. It’s interesting to note that even when Indians travel abroad they work very hard and sacrifice a lot for long-term benefit, which is the education of their children and upliftment of the family status in society. Staying put in one job is also an indication of long term orientation and this once was very common in India, however this is changing due to economic growth and better opportunities (ITIM International: Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimension India, 2009) (India Business Etiquette, Vital manners, cross-cultural management, 2008) (Nita, 2008).
Major Cross-cultural Implications in India:
Focus on code of behaviour, values and culture.
Society is built on personal relationship and trust.
Behaviour and values are controlled collectively & accompanied by feelings and emotions.
Strong Hierarchical framework for operation.
Cooperation and relationships based on mutual dependence.
Suggestions and Recommendations:
Cross-Cultural Training: People who are going abroad or coming to India for business will face different types of difficulties related to socio-economic factors, cultural, language and customs and tradition related difficulties. Companies should offer training programs to the employees which gives employees an idea of other cultures and tradition their values and methods of working etc to reduce cultural shock. Thus, the goal of cross-cultural training programs is to provide skills and strategies that will help them through the process of cultural change. This will create a global working environment in the workplace so that the employees don’t get culture shock when they need to work on off shore assignment. The managers in India have to conduct a specific Indian cultural training, including key concepts and values, Indian business practice training (management style and communication methods) and Indian business etiquette training. This training will help employees to understand the differences, bridge the gaps and manage these differences (Aswathappa, 2003).
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Organizing, Planning and control:
India has a high score in power distance dimension so it is suggested that the planning and control should lies with the top executive of the organisation for efficient working. Therefore, the Headquarters or Executive management team should have the strategic planning and guidance for the common value platforms and then the middle managers should recognize and defines common organisational values and goals as prescribed by the top management and then these values and goals should be introduced or formulated on lower level of the hierarchy. For efficient working and extracting maximum from given resources the MNCs should follow this hierarchy in India. Indian people are good with teamwork, and they prefer the hierarchy organization system. So it’s suggested to setup pyramidal power structure the company should encourage working in teams and assign roles and responsibilities and monitor and check the working of the employees for proper control (International Business Tour: Business Culture in India and China, 2010).
Effective Communication System:
A work group cannot function properly without proper communication. In any type of the relationships, especially in a group, communication is the key to understanding and solving problems. The perceptions of time, space, and business practices can disrupt effective communications. Being alert and sensitive to cultural cues and context before speaking is the first step in overcoming cultural communication barriers. Indians prefer indirect communication so I would recommend that in order to enhance effective communication there should be a process or link between employees and management in order to get feedback from employees. In India English is widely spoken in corporate sector but the meaning and expressions of certain words may differ from one culture to other so it’s better to understand what the person is trying to say and then draw your conclusions. It is recommended that to be aware of local vocal variations and pay attention to local accents and pronunciation.
Flexible Time Management:
According, to the Individualism dimension Indians take their time to articulate their decisions so it is acceptable to allow some flexibility in the time arrangement and you should plan in advance for appointment with major clients. Indians are very cautious in accepting new ideas and business deals they will analyze all the aspects of the new ideas and technology and if they are fully satisfied then only they will move ahead with the idea so, it is recommended to include all the details related to the project accordingly.
Business women are well-educated and respected in Indian society. Be aware of the gender gap in the Indian society. Overfriendly and unfriendly attitude towards women is not acceptable in India. Displays of affection for women in public are considered inappropriate and sometimes illegal.
Example with Stages of Adjustment in India:
Stage 1: Honeymoon stage: initial stage when some foreign employee comes to India, he/she will be thrilled with new experiences and anxiety because of the cultural differences and values.
Stage 2: Culture Shock stage: lack of awareness of Indian culture and tradition which the foreign employee will face and it will result in confusion, frustration and tension. The frustration occurs as the person begins to realize that past behaviours are inappropriate in the host culture but has not yet learned what behaviours to substitute.
Stage 3: Adjustment stage: in this stage with proper cross cultural training and communication skills provided by company the employee will increase his/her ability to adapt Indian culture and learns more about Indian business environment.
Stage 4: Acceptance stage: The anxiety and frustration is largely gone and the employee has gained confidence in ability to understand Indian culture and values and now the overall productivity of employee increases (Hayes, 2005).
Every company who thinks of doing business are aware of the fact that ability to adapt new culture and condition of living may be the most important factor for success in more culturally diverse market. Diversity within a company or within a country is considered beneficial to the overall development of human resources and its culture and values. A wide range of perspectives resulting from bringing together people from different cultures, ages and genders not only enhances innovation in thinking but also brings added strength to the company and country as well. In India companies should focus and employed talented people and provide them with adequate support to achieve their highest potential. Further I believe that there should have adequate manager- employee interaction within the organisation so that the managers should extract maximum from the employees because at the end of the day they are there for business and to earn profits.
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