Managing Across Cultures

Key to Global Success


Indian companies started going global seriously in the 90s after “Liberalization”. The momentum has increased enormously in the last decade. Today, Indian companies are all over the world, some succeeding tremendously, and some faltering a great deal at the outset, mainly because of a lack of cultural insights.

Without cultural knowledge many experienced initial losses: Without a proper understanding of the country or their work culture, and without appropriately tuning in to the expectations of the people outside India that they deal with, it has been challenging for some of these companies, even the most reputable, to know and understand how to be successful in the new culture. The initial ramp-up time, till the ventures were profitable, has taken much longer, and several companies experienced unexpected financial disasters during these initial efforts, unprepared for the cultures they needed to work in.

A large number of investments have been lost or the financial returns diminished or delayed, because of Indian companies being unaware of how they might need to prepare their people or not realizing the importance of investing in this critical step.

However, Indian CEOs and HR leaders, who have been culturally savvy, have realized that the initial cultural and people preparation is critical to their business success. Without adequate preparation, it is easy for misunderstanding to crop up, dissatisfaction to creep in and attrition rates to go up, while projected profits diminish.

Managing Across Cultures has been fortunate enough to be called in by some of the more savvy companies to assist in this area. For example, we were called on to hold a Retreat for the Board of Directors of the first Indian manufacturing company to set up operations in the US. We also oriented their first CEO to enter and work in the US.

Managing Across Cultures was also the company selected to develop the cultural and communication orientation for Indians and local hires for the IT arm of the largest Indian conglomerate, as they entered the US in a big way. This was developed and implemented very effectively after we did an in-depth analysis of the issues and behaviors that had created hurdles in the business.

Managing Across Cultures was also called on, by the first Indian IT company to be incorporated in the US, to develop and conduct the initial training for their IT groups coming from India to the US.

Today, as Indian companies have been on a “global acquisition spree”, it is even more critical that they orient their people, help raise their cultural awareness and their awareness of ways of working of other cultures, so that they can avoid the losses that come with inefficient post- merger cultural integration.

We have coached the leaders of many Indian companies who aspire to “globalize” their culture, develop a global mindset in their employees and help their employees to aim for excellence as they work across cultures.

NASSCOM sponsored workshops on “Going Global” by Dr. Zareen Karani Araoz for their member companies in Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai.

As a session with Dr. Araoz for one organization was named: “Learn to Manage Across Cultures: Don’t go Abroad without it!”

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INDIA: the Land of Diversity

Modernity is Interspersed with the Traditional. “The creation of new values and the conservation of the old that have stood the test of time are both equally necessary.”
Jamal Khwaja

Indo-US Teams abound and are increasing. 34% employees at Microsoft are Indians. In NASA,36% or almost 4 out of 10 scientists are Indians.

There is much wisdom—even in the poorest. “Swami Vivekananda keenly felt that both the West and India needed each other for their mutual welfare & for the ultimate good of humanity” Politicians and Corporate Leaders in India and the US seem to feel the same today!

People in India work and toil through many challenges. Indians are the 13th most hardworking country in the world, better than Australia or Korea. The US is 9th.

There is color, grace and charm in the people of this fascinating country. “Even a sceptic can experience a miracle in spiritual India”
Tim Loft