This research paper will help in identifying the different elements that are seen in India and in understanding these cultural dimensions when incorporated in Indian businesses by locals. The purpose of this paper is to understand the global business culture between India and the United States of America. Though India is still a developing economy it is the second biggest emerging market in the world and is one of the biggest and largest contributors in the global arena. However, many Indian companies struggle with corruption and unethical practices that are still prevalent in the country. In this paper, after examining the different cultural aspects of India that are led by few major elements, these elements will then be compared to the U.S.A, that will help in determining if companies in the U.S.A should plan on extending their business venture to India or not or what factors companies in the U.S.A should take into consideration before entering the Indian market.
Indian history takes one back to 2500 BC when the Indus valley civilization began. This civilization ran on commerce and was sustained by agricultural trade showing how ahead India was of its time, which is why many wanted to come to this country like Christopher Columbus and even though Columbus “died in Spain in 1506 as a great sailor who found the New World” (Botelho, Young & Nappi, 2014), this new world was discovered only many years later by Vasco da Gama which then allowed “Portugal to establish a rich trade with India and southeast Asia.” (Micalizio, 2014). After few years, England entered India and then ruled India for many years till when it got its freedom on 15th August 1947. India won its freedom in a peaceful act of revolt led by Mahatma Gandhi.
Mark Twain states in his journal ‘Following the Equator’ that “India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” (Miller, 2014). “India is the largest democracy and second most populous country in the world.” (India country, 2018). It is even one of the biggest populations still living close to, or below, the poverty line. (India et al, 2018).
I was born and raised in this country and I have seen this country grow tremendously. From the time when the only few international products were sold like Coca-Cola to now have the majority of international brands available in India, shows the growth it has undertaken. India is definitely one of the most fast-growing markets in the world. Even at the time of world recession and economic slowdown from 2009 to 2011, India had grown at 7.2 per cent vs 2.5 per cent global average.
For national and international businesses to be successful in India, the employers need to keep the employees happy and content. For if they are unhappy and have a poor work environment, then the employees are not motivated enough to give their best which in turn affects the consumer satisfaction that turns to no growth for the company itself.
RQ1 What are the major elements and dimensions of culture in this region?
The major elements and dimensions of culture seen in India are Communication, Religion, Ethics, Values and Attitudes, Manners, Customs, Social Structures and Organizations and Education.
One of the major elements that makes India so diverse and that can create a big problem for international businesses that want to enter this country is religion. For there are 6 main religions in India, which are, Hindu, Muslim, Christianity, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. Each religion has further bifurcations and many different ways of looking at things.
Among Hindus, all those things or people that bless or help is treated as a god and is worshipped. Hence, a cow is worshipped and is considered to have many gods in it, trees are worshipped especially the banyan tree, people are sometimes made to marry a tree for the wrong they did in their previous life (Hindus believe that they get seven lives and the life they are currently living is part of one of the seven), parents and money are sometimes worshipped, some kitchen equipment’s like the pressure cook is worshipped by a group of Hindus and Jains once a year at least.
The second biggest majority in the Indian population are the Muslims, and they worship Allah, pray at least 5 times a day and have Jummah on Fridays where they usually wear an Indian attire in white. They are not allowed to touch alcohol and pig meat. Muslims have 4 divisions among them and majority of Muslim women wear a burkha which is a veil, when they step out of their homes, that usually covers their full head and face except their eyes and sometimes just their head while showing their face.
There are a majority of Catholics in comparison to protestant Christians, where the latter is further divided. The former is pretty similar to Hindus, as they have many statues of Jesus, Mary, John the Baptist, etc., that they pray and burn candles to and believe in sacraments. While the protestants consist of many denominations that are similar to Catholics but are yet different. Usually a church is looked as a building structure and its holiness is depended on how well it is decorated with the finest cloth. The Christian population in India eat all types of meat.
In India, all Hindus, most Muslims and Christians believe that their good works forgive them for their sins. Hence, they try to be very hospitable and helpful.
Sikh & Buddhist
Sikh believe in one god but have various ways. The Sikh men and women are asked to not cut their hair with scissors but if they want to trim it they can do so with fire on a candle. Sikh men need to wear a turban around their head and carry a few things like a comb and a knife as a representative of who they are. If they do not follow this, then they will no longer belong to the community of Sikhs. Buddhists are those that do not believe in God.
Since a cow is worshipped by Hindus in India and if anyone kills a cow then they are sentenced to jail for 5 years as per Indian law. Hindus and Muslims are forbidden to eat pig which is why very few places in a handful of cities serve pork. The popular meal in most countries have the inclusion of cow meat and pig fat.
Values and attitudes
There are a lot of values and attitudes that come out from the religious background one comes from. Most Hindu’s treat money as god, hence when a check is given to them in a company they would find it disrespectful to have it handed it over to them by their left hand, for they believe all good things should be given or taken with their right hand. In educational institutions, all professors are addressed either with ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ or with ‘sir or ‘madam’ is used before their first name. Calling someone with just their first name is very disrespectful in schools. Even in companies, most employees would address their employers or managers as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ unless they tell them not to do so. It is a known factor in India that most of the sons of the family are required to take care of their parents once they start working and even after they get married and have their own family. The attitude of Indians with time is definitely very different from people all over the world. People are usually late for everything in India and their punctuality grows lower based on the importance for the meet. For if an associate would tell his/her colleagues to hurdle up for a team meeting at 6:00 pm then they all would turn up for it only by 6:30/6:45pm. If a manager asked the colleagues to hurdle up, they would all be there by 6:00/6:15pm. And if a family member throws in a party at 6:00pm then everyone would start showing up for it only by 7:00/7:30pm.
Cultural differences. Cultural differences in association with the business world (Christie& Kwon, 2003).
Regarding ethics, even though most schools have inculcated it as a subject, most Indians get their ethics taught to them by their parents and teachers, where they are taught what is right and wrong. In companies that deal with customers bank accounts and credit cards, employees are given strict instructions to not take personal notes of the customer’s account number, date of birth, etc. so that they do not tamper or misuse confidential information. Employees that work in outsourcing companies are not allowed to disclose who their client is, for that is also considered as confidential information, even after leaving the company. Indian companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), allow employees to use their phones only on the ground floor and submit it in lockers, and aren’t allowed to take it to their respective office space, nor allowed to take any photo on the floor or in the building for all of this is considered as a security breach. Employees of this firm aren’t even allowed to upload the company logo on Facebook or other social media sites for even that is considered unethical.
“as per this study bribery and corruption along with safety and security at work place are the most critical ethical issues in India.”
Corruption: There exists much social, political and economic corruption in India today.
Ramesh, R. S., & Goel, P. (2014). ATTITUDE AND PERCEPTION OF PUBLIC TOWARDS BUSINESS ETHICS: EVIDENCE FROM SELECT SEVEN STATES OF INDIA. Indian Journal of Commerce and Management Studies, 5(1), 47-53. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1511107347?accountid=12085
Speaking in English is a struggle usually seen among Indians, residing out of the main cities like Mumbai and Delhi, due to its limited usage and exposure towards it. Indian men and women are fluent in communicating verbally in Hindi and with their respective state language/s. This is because most families speak in one language at home like in Hindi, making them comfortable with it and not in an international language like English. In school I had teachers who would teach me English with very different pronunciations from the world. Hence, I would speak the same language but due to the difference in pronunciation my verbal communication wouldn’t be conveyed correctly or understood. Indians even do not communicate using words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ for they usually communicate it with bodily gestures/ body language or a smile.
Non-verbal is a communication excluding any tone or message but revolves majorly around body language, facial expressions and gestures (Buck & VanLear, 2002, Pg. 5). Outside the major cities in India, a son’s birth is celebrated while a girl’s birth is usually treated as a curse to families especially residing outside big cities. With such an atmosphere for a girl to be raised as a lady puts a lot of low self-esteem on her. Many families do not allow their daughters to study in school after a particular grade for they try to teach them how to be a good wife, and if they do allow them to study then the only reason in doing so is because they want to ensure the girl gets a marriage proposal from a rich family and only after marriage if their husband asks or allows them to work is when they do so. Such women struggle a lot when they enter a company for they lack the body language and professional gestures.
With each religion the mannerisms differ however since Hinduism is the dominant religion in India, everyone usually follows or inculcates their manners. Most Hindu’s treat money as god. When cash or a check is given to any India, they would find it disrespectful to have it handed it over to them by their left hand, for they believe all good things should be given or taken with their right hand. Pushing a book, a packet of clothes or vegetables bought from the market to a side by one’s leg is treated disrespectful and wrong. If a group of individuals are sitting together and one mistakenly touches the other persons leg or hand, then the former apologies for it and says sorry to god too. They do not believe in talking when food is eaten, nor will you find the majority of Indians waste food for most families come from poorer backgrounds and never got to eat more than two meals in a day. When someone is thirsty or hungry, Indians just hand over their own bottle or food to share. Among Hindus, when an elderly family member or family friend greets the children or young adults of the house, they are asked to touch the adult’s feet out of respect to take the elderly persons blessings. Most Indian women do not speak in family gatherings unless they are alone with their immediate family or youngsters for it is considered disrespectful and not honorable. Sharing one’s food and eating with one’s right hand is considered as good manners.
Indians were ruled by the British and hence many things like government policies, customs, tariff, taxes, etc. were learned by them and influenced in the Indian law. Customs will seem familiar to westerners, and in other ways they differ greatly. Customs duty is charged on the assessed value of a product by the customs officer and not on the invoice value. However, many changes were brought in 2017 when the government introduced a new indirect tax, GST (Goods and Services Tax), which has been introduced and running in other countries of the world. With the implementation of this tax, all other taxes like VAT (Value-Added Tax), Excise duty and Sales Tax will be removed, and a standardized tax will be charged to the consumers. (Sankar, 2017). This tax helped users to receive their goods faster since the states in India do not need to fill many forms of state tax, logistics, etc. which was needed earlier. However, the sellers have to charge 1% tax at fixed rate.
Social structures speak about different relations among large social groups. Prior to the independence of India social structure played a very big role. For all Hindus that came from different castes, they were divided and treated differently. The lowest caste (Scavengers) and the highest caste (Brahmans) being treated as royals. This caste hierarchy, though thought to be based on spirituality was actually due to a secular factor. This division was caused due to the difference in richness and power between the castes. (Shah, 2012, Pg. 10) The scheduled caste (SC) and the Dalits were treated as untouchables. They are still very few in number in India. Which is why most of these lower castes are given many preferences in companies and educational institutions wherein the two are required to have at least few seats available for the SCs and Dalits. However, the caste system and government situation in India varies greatly from state to state. Even the housing conditions in India vary greatly from cardboard shacks to beautiful palaces.
There are various types of business organizations in India. They are Sole proprietorship, Partnership, Joint-Hindu family company, Private limited companies, public limited companies, Cooperative, etc.
Sole proprietorship is owned single handedly by one person who incurs all the losses and gains all the profits of the company. Partnership involves two or more persons that share profits based on the percent invested by each, they similarly even incur the same amount of losses. A private limited company can have members ranging from 2 to 50. In such a company the shares of the company are not open to the public, i.e., they are not available in the stock market and all the investors of this company revolve around the members. Public limited companies consist of members ranging from 7 to no limit. The shares of such a company are offered to the public hence making it a public offering and increasing the growth of such companies. Public companies even need to be transparent and disclose their accounts to the public (since most of the investors are from the public and not part of the board of directors). Joint-Hindu family is a business that is owned and run by a Hindi family. Such businesses are usually started by one member of the family and is continued including all the generations alive. The eldest man of the house is usually the head of the business and everyone needs to seek his advice before making a business decision. Such businesses usually struggle with growth because the younger generations only get to learn from their parents and the elder of the house is usually more comfortable with older techniques than new. A Co-operative company allows members to enter and exit and is governed by the Cooperative Societies Act 1912.
India realizing that higher education is the key to development has change the quality of educational institutions in India.
There are various types of educational institutions provided to high school students in India.
1) SSC: The Secondary School Certificate (SSC) is an education under the state government, provided to all students residing in the same state. This education is further subdivided between English medium and other language medium. For Example. In the state of Maharashtra, there will be three types of schools under state education, i.e., English medium, Hindi medium (national language) and Marathi medium (state language). This educational system is the least tiresome and difficult.
2) C.B.S.E: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) usually consists of students’ part of families that travel from one place to another in India. This board unlike the SSC is not under state government but under the Government of India.
3) I.C.S.E: The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) is one of the most renowned boards of education in India. It is vast, as it covers general subjects in detail like books of Shakespeare in Literature, but even makes a student an all-rounder in all subjects.
4) I.B: International Baccalaureate (IB) All students who want to study with an international curriculum and are looking forward to studying abroad, sign up in such an educational institution. A certification is granted for IB in the 12th grade. This education doesn’t have a fixed curriculum, hence giving the teachers the freedom to select the chapters and books. Only students who are able to cope with the difficult assignments and exams of this institution take admission.
5) I.G.C.S.E: The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is similar like IB. Where in students who plan on studying abroad or want to experience a western experience in their education can adopt it. A certification is granted for IGCSE in the 10th grade. This education has a fixed curriculum that needs to be followed by the teachers and student.
Many undergraduate and graduate schools are available to students of different streams. One of the world-famous institutes, the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management, for students pursuing a degree in Engineering and in MBA are available in India. And this is because of the importance given by the country to higher education and to prove higher standard of education. (Altbach, 2009).
RQ2 How are these elements and dimensions integrated by locals conducting business in India?
Local businesses need to ensure that they have the knack to cut good deals with the third party. They need to hire few people who speak the state language they are in. For example, if a company in Mumbai plans on buying materials from Pune (which is a 2-hour drive from Mumbai) then the employees buying/ selling materials to Pune need to know the language Marathi (state language). This communication is required for this eases the company in Pune to do business with Mumbai and helps them to gain trust on the latter company. They even need to know when and how much to bargain. There are 21 recognized languages in India and 1500 languages spoken around the country.
Due to the restrictions over Indian women’s education and growth as a profession, they are not able to communicate smoothly like the western women, hence they do not grow much in companies. For they lack the knowledge, confidence and exposure. Indians even usually say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ with the nod of their head which can sometimes be confusing for the asker when they are just looking for a direct answer. The local company would either need to be strict with the employees to state the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ or they should just understand the nod of one’s head.
For a business to function and be successful, the company needs to understand the difference in religions and the religious days for each employee that are not part of the national holidays. “For by respecting the local sentiment, management can win the hearts of employees.” (Gupta & Bhaskar, 2016). They need to grant Hindus religious holidays like Ganapati Chaturthi, Holi, Vishu, etc. Muslims need to be granted holidays on days celebrating Eid, Moharram, etc. Christians would need a leave on Good Friday, Christmas, new year, etc. Jains would require holidays on Paryushan and Mahavir Jayanti. Which is why most companies have employees of different religions, so that when a Hindu cannot make it to work due to his/her religious holiday a Muslim or a Christian is present as a backup and vice versa. This helps the company to run throughout the year and keeps the employees happy and satisfied on getting their holiday offs. The company even needs to allow the employees to celebrate their required festivals in the office, by decorating the offices and passing some sweets that were offered to their gods, and the managers need to ensure that the employees are maintaining the company’s decorum by being part of the festival.
There were many frauds that took place in India like the Harshad Mehta and Satyam scam. This shook the corporate industry and brought in the urgency for ethics. Ethics is used as a cornerstone for businesses to build the stakeholders trust and confidence. It is even used to build the consumers trust who are either equity shareholders or debenture holders. Ethics are inculcated in local businesses in India by the Human Resources department, where they teach the employees, when hired, the ethical practices of the company and the requirements needed to be followed by the employees. When I joined Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), my first day at work was an induction that was conducted by two to three HR(s). They taught us the history and values of the company and then went on to explain what is expected from us and if we do not meet their ethical expectations, then based on the severity of the problem the associates are either given a warning or asked to leave the company. Business Ethics in India are related to one’s personal integrity, for culture plays a strong influence towards business ethics and general practices. (Christie, Kwon, Stoeberl & Baumhart, 2003).
Ask the librarian for this article: Assessing business-school students’ attitude towards business ethics: a study from India
How corruption affects the climate of the business world
Values and Attitudes
All the locals in India, usually understand and respect the values and attitudes of their fellow locals. Being a Christian, I would respect the values of a Hindu and Muslim. When it comes to values towards families, a local business would need to understand the backgrounds a man and woman come from and their responsibilities. Hence, if they need holidays to care for their sick parents then the company needs to understand. To prevent it from affecting the functionality of the company the managers need to have back-ups, give laptops to the employees to work from home, etc. Local businesses even need to understand that Indian women are more comfortable wearing simple Indian attire to work, hence most companies in India consider it as formal wear, including western formals as well.
For all the locals conducting businesses in India need to understand that each town and city have different cultural perspectives and manners. In businesses that have a cafeteria/ canteen for their employees, need to ensure that they have separate sections for vegetarians and non- vegetarian and the employers need to allow their employees to eat with their hands and not with forks and knives, only so that the employee is at ease at the dining table at least. Employers need to ensure to handover checks to their employees by their right hand, so that their employees do not take offense by it.
The Human Resources (HR) department need to be just and impartial while hiring employees and not hire them based on their caste or social status.
Hire SCs, STs and Dalits in schools and companies.
Law (Kwantes, 2009)
Economic impact of India in social structure
Education in the business realm
As there are many kinds of Organizations, locals need to compete with nationals and international businesses.
E-commerce is a term that is still very new in India, which is why many locals cannot completely opt for e-banking or e-ticketing, because Indians do not have complete trust in this sector and are afraid of being cheated.
E-commerce in organizations.
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