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Foreign Businesses In India Must Understand Indian Culture

2344 words - 10 pages

Introduction
India is one of the world’s oldest and largest countries. After gaining independence from Great Britain in 1947, India has become the world’s largest democracy with a flourishing economy and a variety of cultural differences. India has become gradually more appealing to foreign investors in various parts of the world because of its low costs and huge, English-speaking workforce. India has the second largest English speaking population in the world. India is currently the world’s tenth largest and fastest growing economy. There are a plethora of reasons why United States business organizations would want to conduct business with India. However, it is imperative to understand the nation’s various cultural differences before conducting business in India. Without understanding the proper ways to communicate in a business setting, it would be nearly impossible to conduct business in a mutually beneficial way.

Cultural Considerations
The American business environment in many ways resembles Indian business practices. However, there are a few apparent differences in the Indian business structure, corporate culture, negotiating styles and basic etiquette. In such a richly diverse and complex country as India, the business environment is heavily influenced by culture. For example, roles and status are very important to Indians as their society is extremely hierarchical in nature. It is imperative that there is a boss and that his subordinates act in obedience to him. “Thus, companies tend to be run by one very strong individual (especially in the ubiquitous family companies) who will issue direct instructions down the chain of command” (WorldBusinessCulture.com). People do not question either these instructions or their position within the organization.
When doing business via verbal communication or face to face, many Indians have adopted the western style of the direct method, but refrain from using it when they feel that current and future relationships are at risk. The indirect method is used for bad or negative news although Indians would be more likely to avoid confronting an issue altogether if that method is not possible. Many times they confuse business partners who are unfamiliar with the indirect method of communicating in business situations because to avoid conflict they will be vague and unclear with their responses.
The distance of interaction is much closer in India than in most western countries. In general, a distance of about two or two and a half feet is seen as a comfortable distant in western countries. Whereas in Indian interactions are nearly face to face. Even in public places their interaction is close. It is not uncommon to see Indians communicating almost literally face to face in elevators, subways, and other public places. In America it's a common practice to cross your legs when sitting, it's viewed as disrespectful to show the sole of your shoe in India. To go along with your shoes, the cow is a sacred...

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