The need to have an Indian Style of Management – Arindam Chaudhuri
How often has one heard of an American organization adopting the Japanese management style to surge ahead? How often has one heard of the reverse? Probably never. However, I do remember reading somewhere that when IBM-USA was making losses while IBM-Japan was making profits, IBM-USA tried to adopt the Japanese management style to turn around. The result was increased losses.
Predictable? Should be. It is most likely that a style that is successful in Japan would not be as successful in the US and vice versa. People are different, the cultures are different and so is the life-style. That is the reason why Japan has developed its own management style and the US its own.
Thus, when they enter into their job lives and see a management culture prevalent, which is contractual in nature with hire and fire style of management, they don’t get disturbed. In fact, this motivates them to work harder and a typical American would say, “we are tough guys and as long as we are good the company keeps us, else we go out”. The bottom line is that the fine-tuning between the cultures at home and at job works wonders and enhances productivity and motivation.
Looking at the Japanese companies one finds concepts of lifetime employment working wonders out there. A Japanese finds a bonded culture in his organisation, unlike the American contract culture. If we look into the Japanese life style and culture we would find the importance of bonds being very high. The Japanese have strong family ties and a strong sense of community.
From such an upbringing, they feel at home when they see a bonded style of management on the job. The typical Japanese would say, “I am a Honda man (and not that I work for Honda)” displaying the bond that he shares with his company. The point that gets highlighted again is that a management style, which flows out of your own culture and roots would any day, motivates your people much more than one, which is adopted from somewhere else.
The basics of “Theory ‘i’ Management”
Like Theory ‘X’ which tried to define a worker in its own manner as a mindless lazy rascal who loves shirking responsibilities and the Theory “Y” which tried to define the worker as an ambitious responsible citizen looking for the right environment to contribute constructively, Theory ‘I’ is an attempt to understand and define the Indian worker just like the Japanese had tried to do with their Theory “Z”.
In spite of India having some of the best management schools of the world and the best reservoir of skilled human talent, our organizations have not been able to do well. Amongst other reasons one of the most important reasons for the failure of Indian management has been our failure to develop an indigenous management style, which revolves around our cultural roots and upbringing.
An Indian grows up in a system, where family ties and a sense of belongingness get an absolute top priority. Coming from this environment, he gets a shock, when he sees the job environment practicing American philosophies of contractual style of management. He is not able to adjust productively to this cultural mismatch and thus, very often, fails to be as productive as his Japanese or American counterpart.
An Indian worker is perhaps looking at a system without ruthless management practices and inhuman work pressure even if the job security is a little less. Instead of the system (specially in PSU’s) giving them near 100% job security, it could give them some fear of job security, since Indians culturally like to take life easy and tend to become complacent in such situations.
While, the job security aspect could be reduced the human touch in managing them could be increased. They should be made to feel that the company cares for them through regular training programmes, family welfare schemes etc. They should be made to feel that they matter in the organization through programmes, which involve them directly or indirectly into various decision-making processes. This would increase their level of commitment for the organizations and perhaps tomorrow we would also see people telling, “I am a Bajaj man” instead of “I am working for Bajaj scooters”.
In one of my workshops Sr. Manager – Corporate Planning of NTPC, P. Purukayastha could not agree more and cited two beautiful examples. The first related to NTPC spending up to Rs. 5 crore on the medical expenses in US for one of its drivers and his wife who were affected by incurable diseases. This incident of humanity has been a motivating factor for all employees for years.
The second related to his own experience where he made flexi timing for one of his workers whose wife was ill. This not only removed the troubled look from his face but also made him one of the most motivated workers who was always ready to give more than 100% to his job once his wife became alright.
These two incidents can explain how human touch can do wonders on an average Indian psyche. I would even go up to the extent of suggesting that professional studies could be made a part of on the job training like in Japan and not that people first get trained and then wander around for jobs like in the US.
It has to be kept in mind that the Japanese without a single business school of repute have produced some of the most successful corporations in the last 50 years, while with so many reputed management schools the US has not been able to stop the entry of one after another of the Japanese organisations into the Fortune 500 list.
Again out here I might add that Mr. Purakayastha himself went through a training program after which the company, based upon the results of the test, decided to shift him from industrial relations to corporate planning which has been one of the most motivating aspects of his job.The idea that I want to suggest is that it is high time Indian companies thought sincerely about their people and developed “Indian – people friendly management” practices.
They might have some American touch or some Japanese touch but the thought essentially has to be given on what will suit the Indians. The sad part is that successful Indian managers who have developed indigenous styles of management don’t end up theoreotising their styles and propagating them through books or articles. In the US almost every semi-successful manager ends up writing a book and thus, today one does know how IBM is managed, but one doesn’t know about how an Indian corporation like, may be, the Reliance Group is managed. So, when it comes to learning management the only option is to refer to foreign books and learn foreign management styles.
The Principles of “Theory ‘i’ Management”
- Most Indians value bonds emotions and long-term relationships.
- Most Indians value growth opportunities and commitment.
- Our cultural roots (of tolerance etc.) often make us complacent.
- Lack of patriotism at a macro level leaves us aimless.
What do these principles prove?
These principles have been arrived at after a thorough research that we conducted on more than 3000 managers across the country. The managers were asked to talk about their colleagues across functions and levels. The most important revelation from this survey is about the uniqueness of today’s Indian psyche.
On one hand as expected, the first two points go on to prove our cultural values and a lot of similarities can be drawn with the Japanese value systems. On the other hand when faced with the fact that everything Indian is so cool outside India, Bhangra and Indipop find place in the US pop charts, the global IT revolution has been fuelled by homegrown geeks, in Ohio the Wright State University College of Business and Administration gets renamed after an NRI businessman, our B-school graduates are becoming global leaders, NASA has top Indian scientists, yet Indians have time and again failed to perform in India ; Indian’s like to blame it on complacency, a characteristic that they like attributing to our culture ! It seems Indian’s look for the first opportunity to become complacent; something that they are unable to become in the western world of competition and hire and fire system.
Not only this, when faced with the question about the lack of patriotic instincts and decaying values; they love to blame it on their leaders. Somebody says if our Prime Minister can be bribed Rs 1 crore by a stock broker, what’s wrong in taking bribes; somebody else says if my general manager can take a bribe from the company’s travel agent what’s wrong if I get some account through corrupt practices? One might argue that even in
Japan there is corruption.
The reality however is that in Japan corruption doesn’t touch everyday human existence the way it does in India and moreover they have a more effective judicial system, which even their presidents can’t escape. The other day I read that in Uttar Pradesh fire brigade people have started to ask for bribes before starting to put off the fire! Criminalization of daily life is to such an extent that every individual is actually being turned into a criminal.
The socio – cultural and geo-political environment in India has today resulted into a mixed breed of Indians who on one hand retain family values and a longing for emotional touch and on the other hand are complacent (given the first opportunity to be) and unashamed of being morally bankrupt.
Thus, Indians need an India centric management theory.
Macro aspects of Theory ‘i’ Management
Micro aspects of “Theory ‘i’ Management
Author : Arvindam Chaudhari
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– Ajay Singh Niranjan