Culture is every thing around us. A simple word such as 'water' also is said differently in different languages across the globe. However, language is just a small tip of the iceberg culture. In this essay, we focus more on the personal relationship aspect of culture of both the countries.
Both countries have different cultures with distinct value and belief systems that require different approaches to business. Confucian in China makes its cultural roots even deeper than India. It stresses on the hierarchical order in society and family with obligations and duties related to individuals. Relationships are given high priority and the distinctions between outsiders and family is made clear. These relationships when continue for a longer time reciprocity and trust is developed, leads to the Guanxi network being more personal and reliable than western networking.
The literal meaning of 'Guanxi' is 'relationships'. In China's workplace Guanxi is considered as a network of relationships amongst various members that hold and support each other. The core of Guanxi is laid by exchanging favours, which is likely to performed on a regular basis and on ones own will. Thus in order to be a part of the Chinese society, it is must to understand Guanxi by all outsiders.
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In India, collectivism is only restricted within the families. They tend to be individualistic in terms of interaction with outside people. Indian personal relationship is based on cognition more than emotion. Compared to China, Indian personal relationships are less resilient in nature. Indians are more past oriented rather than being in their present or future due to which they are mostly passive in decision making and maintaining pace with the external environment.
While considering the management implications of personal relationship in India and Guanxi in China it is seen that some people often confuse Guanxi with the social network in India. We need to understand that there are subtle differences between them. Guanxi generally refers to one exact connection between two individuals, whereas network on the other hand refers a multiple connections.
In terms of negotiation styles, both countries have their different approach. Indians are more likely to follow the debatable strategy whereas it compromise in case of Chinese. The strategies adapted by both countries not fully integrative, thus end up leaving gains on the table. For Negotiating with Indians its like an exercise in reasoning, whereas its an exercise of harmony management in terms of China.
The way the business is conducted in both countries is also different. Though high level of trust is required in doing business anywhere but Chinese mostly prefer to have business relations with people whom they know and trust more. India in reality, who tends to follow the western culture, will have to make themselves known to their Chinese counterparts in terms of any joint venture. Relationship in China is not only confined till the first meeting. It is a continuous process and also required at all level of management.
In terms of decision making, both these countries have almost a similar approach with a slight difference as in Indian context, even though the decision making is a group task but the final decision still lies in sole individual whereas in China, we have a strong centralization of decision making and responsibility is decentralised. They have top-down approach with strong hierarchical structures.
Personal relationship also has implications on employee motivation. Indians are motivated by both group as well as individual achievements, whereas the motivation among Chinese employees is attained through group rather than individual achievements.
Both the countries are famous for their high level of corruption and bureaucracy. However, in India the level of corruption is falling down sue to the free present which lacks in China. In terms of China, people need to understand that Guanxi is not bribe as there is no money involvement in the exchanges.
Let's now understand how personal space and Guanxi can actually cause management issues at workplace by a case study example. Considering a hypothetical situation where, a sales manager after his success in the Indian branch is being sent to China to implement strategies. Considering language is not a problem for him. During the first meeting, manager explains about his Indian incentive programs that he plans to implement in Chinese branch too, so that employees can be better rewarded for their hard work. After a few days of implementation the employee morale has actually gone down and employees do not seem happy about the change. Now, being an Indian manager, what could have possibly gone wrong?
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The solution is that Chinese employees do value the better incentive plan but the whole idea of being treated as a group and not individual is more important than the money unlike India. The management assumed that incentive plan would work the same way it did in India. Thus reasons of failure are the cooperative Chinese culture which includes traditional network achieving a goal and in term of recognition, they prefer group than individuals doing extremely well.
Thus it can be seen that while both Asian countries, have different business practices from the western world, there are differences amongst their cultures too.
What make the industry of call centers more competitive in India in recent decades? Can HRM management strategies and practices in UK call centers be successfully transferred to India? Why or why not? What potential advantages or disadvantages are imposed in the Indian context?
As knowledge-based service industries are taking over the economies worldwide, call centers are becoming integral for the service industry. The Call Centers are aimed to manage interaction with the customers more effectively and thus provide better customer service. With call centers being increasingly introduced by companies, job opportunities for call centre operators are also on the rise. Even among customers the popularity of call centers has increased over the years.
Call centers had been synonymous with voice-based customer support, until recently. However in countries like India, the perception and character of a call centre is evolving, to what is sometimes referred as 'contact centers', or a business process outsourcing (BPO) centers or information technology enabled services (ITeS).
In the recent years, India along with other developing countries such as Philippines has seen an overwhelming growth in the call centre operations sector. India is becoming the preferred destination for as many as 400 of the 500 Fortune companies to establish offshore call centers and business process outsourcing. Cheap skilled human resources have been the main reason for this. It is more cost-effective for the companies to offshore the work to Indian shores.
Other reasons for the move to India for the call centre operations, besides cost-saving are, software development and the availability of thousands of well-trained professionals who can speak fluent English. In India, every year, more than two-million English-speaking graduates are accessible to work at upto 80 per cent less salary then their Western counterparts. Availability of technical and computer-literate human resources as well as of useful infrastructure such as established telecom services, better productivity and quality of services, secured environment, increased focus on core competencies and cheap costs to set-up new offices are also reasons for companies to prefer India.
India stands way ahead of other competitors in this sector too such as the Philippines, China and Ireland, because the number of English-speaking graduates in India is more. Furthermore, these graduates work at the lowest price as compared to other countries, thus giving the Indian market a cut above the rest.
For India, call centers is a new industry and organizational structure, employees cope with having control over their work, but in a heavily monitored environment. The work environment of a call centre is under strict management and the performance is under close scrutiny and supervision. But on the other hand, taking responsibility for their own and their team's performance themselves is also upholded. Rewards are also awarded in conjunction with performance on behalf of the employees.
The call centre industry in UK has a different organizational form as compared to its Indian counterparts. Recruitment of an employee is based on a competitive selection process, with focus placed on their selling skills, aptitude skills and flexibility of the employee rather than the qualification. Part-time employment in the call centers is also encouraged. The jobs are well paid, with attractive bonus and incentives also being offered to the employees. The average age of work force in UK call centers is 33 - 35 years. Consistent and efficient workers with desired qualifications can progress to higher positions such as Operations Director as well.
Taking this organizational structure into consideration for the Indian counterparts, might not be an easy and successful implementation. In India, a job as a customer service representative in a call centre is not seen as an option of career. Instead it is an alternative career option that fresh graduates go for. Thus the average age of the Indian call centre employee is also lower, at around 26 years and the work force is usually graduates and thus immature. In addition to the process training required for the employees, in India, training is also required and provided for voice, accent (British and American) and cultural awareness.
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The growth of the call centre industry in India has brought about a lot of social and cultural changes in the Indian society. Women constitute one-third of the workforce, allowing them to lead an assertive life of financial independence. The BPOs have also played an important part in giving the new generation of India an exposure of the western culture. It also provides an opportunity for cross-cultural exchanges between the east and west, with various companies from UK and US opening up their centers in India. It has also helped in increasing the spending power of the Indian middle-class allowing them to lead a better life, which includes all the comforts of a modern lifestyle.
But there is a flipside to this dream-come-true for an Indian youth. While call centers have provided employment to women, allowing them to lead a better life in urban cities, the women is are still places at a junior level of roles such as customer service representatives, rather than at the managerial level, like their counterparts in UK. A cultural exchange with the western world is also accompanied with call centre employees being constantly attacked with racial and cultural abuse from the developed countries. Family life of the call centre employee is also affected as employees has little time to spare due to the long hours spent in rotating shifts, especially for those employees working on the night shift. Human Resources management issues such as recruitment, promotions and lay-offs are decided on the basis of factors such as communal differences such as the caste system and political influence as well.
Identify the key HR challenges of managing alliances in emerging economies.
Emerging markets are the new areas of growth for the global companies, while companies from the emerging markets are interested in expanding their reach into the global economy. Alliances between the developed and the emerging world thus seem to be a solution suiting both sides. But when an alliance is formed, the management tends to ignore the HR issues. Thus this essay aims to identify the key HR challenges of managing alliances in emerging economies.
With the market environment becoming more competitive, the role of human resource management is evolving and the integral role played by it for the success of an alliance, is increasingly becoming recognized. Thus companies that pay less emphasis on attracting and retaining its talents may find themselves at a disadvantage to their competitors who can outplay them in the strategic employment of their human resources. Thus in order to succeed, a thorough understanding of the organization's big picture and an ability to influence key decisions and policies must be the driving force of HR.
In terms of a strategic alliance between western and emerging economies, the biggest problem that management faces is language as a part the bigger picture culture. For example, British managers may value individual achievement and autonomy, but competent supervision, fringe benefits, security and comfortable conditions would be preferred by their French counterparts, while for the Indian manager's culture and tradition are highly valued.
The problems faced by the management team results in many human resource issues among the alliance. The key HR challenges of managing alliances in emerging economies can be identified as the five R's. The HR team needs to get in right at the stage of defining the business strategy to Resourcing, Recruiting the right talent, Retaining the talent, Retraining and Restructuring from the home country.
Resourcing is the first step in any human resource practice. It is important to understand that re-sourcing is not just about recruitment as re-sourcing helps the organisations to identify the need of human resource as a central part of the alliance. For human resource, resourcing can be a major challenge as the HR needs to decide which department needs more staff and what should be the job requirements for that position.
IT is believed that recruitment and retention go hand in hand, if the HR managers recruit the right person in the first case, the problem of employee retention would be automatically solved. Choosing a right candidate for the vacant position is extremely important as one bad fish can make the entire pond dirty. In an alliance, if the HR manager is from a western country, then finding the candidate in an emerging economy is a big task as the managers needs to consider many things in mind while recruiting.
Retraining and development can be explained with an example of an IT company who develops an alliance with India the employees in India need to first be given proper training and knowledge in order to make sure they know what has to be done and in what ways. Since IT industry is a very fast moving industry. Regular training and development is necessary in order to keep the employees up to date frrm the outside environment. The HR has to foresee and anticipate the future requirements and provide suitable training according so that employees can handle the challenges.
Restructuring- In an alliance between a Chinese and English company, for instance, the structure of the host company would needed to be restructured. The manager might have to bring about changes in, for instance- job timings and pay systems etc. Implementing this change can pose a serious challenge.
Apart from all these key challenges, the HR manager can also be faced with several general challenges such as: Appraisal: In terms of any appraisals, the managers needs to ensure that no bias is taking place. Decision making: Since the alliance would include employees from different cultural background, the HR needs to ensure that the decision-making process includes the interests of all. Communication: This can be one of the major challenges for an alliance on a daily basis. Problems of communication gaps and filtering of information might occur if, for instance, the employees of the home country do not like the HR manager. Another challenge for the HR manager might be unfamiliarity with the environment in a host country.
Now, besides the challenges faced by the HR manager in managing alliance, we also need to understand how can the HR manager be better equipped to face these challenges.
The HR manager must have certain competencies in order to carry out their challenges effectively and efficiently. The various competencies can be: Global and cultural understanding, network building, client service orientation, flexibility, organizational awareness, team work, communication, decisiveness, leadership, self confidence, sharing of expertise, strategic planning and multiple language competencies.
Thus the role of the HR manager must equivalent to the needs of the changing organization. The HR managers must adapt themselves accordingly in order to manage efficiently through leading, controlling, planning and organising.