Liberalization of policies has transformed in India into offshoring capital. This globalization although good, has brought along with it new challenges which companies must confront in order to become successful. One of the key challenges is bridging the gap between Indian work culture and the rest of the world.
According to study conducted in 2007 by the Hay Group, a global management consulting firm more than 90% of corporate mergers and acquisitions were unable to succeed because companies could not integrate corporate cultures and structures. In a similar study conducted by KPMG in 2010, 83% of mergers and acquisitions failed to produce the desired results because of people and cultural differences.
What is work culture? It can be described as the rules, regulations, practices, values, beliefs etc. passed from generation to generation, followed by people in their homes, which in turn extend to their workplace.
This paper is the result of analysis of Indian work culture and the advantages of ERP implementation, the end-objective being to demonstrate via ERP, companies can align Indian work culture with the rest of the world.
To add credibility to my analysis on Indian work culture, in addition to my observations, the dimensions of Power Distance, Individualism-Collectivism, Uncertainty Avoidance and Performance Orientation coined by Geert Hofstede, a renowned anthropologist are used.
- Power Distance is the extent to which employees of an organization within a country expect and accept that power/authority is distributed equally.
- Individualism-Collectivism is described as the strength of ties within a given social network. In a collectivist society personal relationships prevail over processes, tasks etc.
- Uncertainty Avoidance refers to the extent to which members of a culture perceive ambiguous or unknown situations as threats as opposed to opportunities.
With reference to Indian work culture, Indians; exhibit high Power Distance where the boss/superior shows a paternalistic style of leadership; follow a collectivist style where personal relationships take precedence over the process and procedures, preferring to cut corners to get the job done; rely on subtly implicit information; have a tendency for low uncertainty avoidance hence able to tolerate chaos and ambiguity; are casual at meeting deadlines and are quick to make commitments which they don’t intend to fulfil.
Such behaviour is strikingly different from the American and British where people believe; that power is equally distributed in a company; have a tendency for high uncertainty avoidance; stick to deadlines; prefer explicit communication and adhere to processes and procedures.
Indian organizations seeking to establish international business or bolster efficiency should consider adopting ERP to negate the influence of Indian work culture on their operations, to facilitate seamless communication between all employees.
So how does ERP help to bridge this gap? A requisite for implementing ERP is Business Processes (BPs) should be defined, thereby demarcating roles and responsibilities of every employee. Defining BPs without ERP does not help because it is very difficult to ensure whether employees are following their defined roles and responsibilities. Within ERP the roles and responsibilities can be defined, this ensures that employee/employees follow the process and there are no short cuts. Using Data Base logs, at any point in time it is possible to trace which employee/employees has performed what task, this ensures accountability and adherence to deadlines. Processes and procedures are given importance over personal relationships because of the domino effect of non-compliance with procedures. Distribution of authority/power becomes uniform because a single employee can’t solely complete a process. Finally, most important employee/employees begin to realize the benefits of being organized and following a process becomes a habit.
The other advantage of using ERP, employees have issues in attending soft skills training in which they are taught how to work, communicate etc. with other nationalities, they feel they are losing their identity in the process.
Please note we are not saying that ERP can solve all issues related to work culture but can certainly help in overcoming the drawback, if any.
The opinions expressed by me are personal.
About the author;
My name is Nikhil Gajendrgadkar. I work for a private company.
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