Cultural aspects of doing business in India
250 years of shared history between India and the UK have led to a widespread understanding of Indian food, people, film and literature in the UK.
But businesses often make the mistake of misjudging their knowledge of Indian culture. Business success will require a good understanding of the underlying values, beliefs and assumptions of Indian culture and how they manifest themselves in the market and workplace.
India is a vast, populous and diverse nation encompassing many different identities, languages, cultures and religions. These factors, in addition to the caste system’s legacy and the gap between poor and wealthy, make India one of the most diverse nations on earth. This makes it very difficult to make generalisations about Indian culture. There are, however, a few tips that can guide you in your Indian business venture.
– There are many Indias within India: be aware of the cultural diversity and be cautious about generalisations. The great Cambridge economist Joan Robinson once observed: “Whatever you can rightly say about India, the opposite is also true.”
– Research each contact thoroughly: traditional Indian businesses may be family-run and hierarchical, but India’s openness has introduced Western management practices into some emerging industries.
– Hierarchy plays a key role: decisions are made at the highest level and roles are well defined.
– Indians place great value on relationships: take the time to develop contacts and relationships.
– Time is fluid, so flexibility is essential.
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