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Approach:

  1. Intro – define work culture.
  2. Briefly mention about the prevailing Indian work culture.
  3. Chart out the comparison b/w Indian and Western work-cultures.
  4. Conclusion suggesting some required changes.

Work culture, in an organization, is a consequence of the set of values and beliefs carried over a long-time and has substantial impact on the behavior, quality and quantity of work done by employees in an organization.

A decade ago, the work culture in India had a vast difference when compared to the rest of the world. But now, there has been a paradigm shift due to enormous growth of MNCs in IT sector, BPOs, etc. The advent of globalization made enterprises and employees to work across borders. This eliminated the huge gap in work culture to some extent, but still some difference remains between Indian work culture and other countries, especially the west.

Indian work culture: Indians have various cultural yardsticks which extend to their professional culture too. For e.g., ‘namaste’ forms an important part of Indian etiquette, generally used while greeting. However, educated Indians also are acquainted with western customs of preferring hand-shaking. Besides, Indian workplaces follow a hierarchical system and decision-making is usually top-down. The lack of infrastructure and inadequate supply chain management creates hindrances, which requires immense patience to transact business. Additionally, bureaucratic hurdles and a laidback approach in government circles can result in delays in processing, paperwork overload and a general lack of confidence in the system.

Comparison between Indian and Western work cultures:

  • In all western countries, people strictly adhere to time, attend meetings sharply in the scheduled timings. Contrarily, Indian people don’t always abide by strict timings. They are not very impressive on deadlines and negotiate for extending timelines. Sometimes, even scheduled meetings get cancelled for unavailability of key persons.
  • In western work-culture, they value more to the time spent for their personal life. They seldom carry workplace pressure to home. Eventually work is a part of their life, not life itself. But Indians have a poor work-life balance as some even work day & night beyond limits. They value work more than personal lives, which causes stress in personal lives.
  • In western culture, the boss-subordinate relation is not more formal & hierarchical. Superiors treat subordinates with respect and do not demonstrate ranks. They are entrusted with important assignments. They accept shared responsibilities. Managers often socialize with subordinates, and meetings are interactive sessions to arrive at best decisions. Whereas, in India the relationship is overtly formal & hierarchical. People in power openly display ranks. Subordinates are not always respected and they are expected to take the blame for failures. The boss-subordinate relationship is rarely personal. Meetings are more dominative than interactive.
  • In mentoring, in India, either due to the appraisal process or due to lack of skill of the appraiser, the much needed critical assessment is often held back. Even assessments are influenced by personal biases. In west, there is a better balance in practice.
  • In west, people are adaptive and conducive to change implementation. In India, work culture do not accept change easily, lot of resistance is encountered to implement changes.

Work culture is important for not only organization’s growth, but for national growth as well. There exist many differences with pros & cons in work cultures. We need to pick and adapt the best practices of work culture around the globe and implement them. Changes need to be brought about in the mindset about management hierarchy, in attitudes towards appointments & deadlines, in ensuring more commitments & dedication, in following a result orientation over process orientation and directedness, especially in addressing disagreements.

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