“Balancing Values - An Indian perspective on corporate values from Scandinavia”
Pharmaz is a multinational pharmaceutical company, which headquarter is located in Denmark. Worldwide, Pharmaz employs around 6000 people in 30 countries. Currently, the management concentrates on presenting Pharmaz as a value-driven and innovative company. As a result, the following three corporate values should be focused prospectively (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 319):
1. Empowerment of all employees
2. Equal opportunities for developing the employees' competencies
3. Openness in communication associated with knowledge exchange
Furthermore, a focus for Pharmaz is the growth of the Indian subsidiary. It gains strategic importance, more people shall be recruited and the management likes to take advantage of the low cost, professional Indians.
Accordingly, Amrita Chopra, the senior financial manager of Pharmaz India, and Niels Nielsen, the finance director of Pharmaz India (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 322), discuss the alignment of local work procedures. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 319)
In sum, Pharmaz reflects a company's cultural differences between Denmark and India, while the Danish executives try to apply its new values. Also, the company represents the huge managers' efforts that are required for the change.
Main issues raised at Pharmaz associated with the differing cultural and institutional contexts of Pharmaz Denmark and India
In general, all issues at Pharmaz are depending on the cultural differences. The headquarter's management is keen to implement the focused corporate values worldwide. However, experiences in India have shown that the work culture is different.
The following paragraph will discuss three main issues:
1. Independency of employees
2. Interdepartmental misunderstandings
3. Different perspectives in communication
First of all, Pharmaz' corporate value 'the empowerment of employees' raises major problems. The company's management argues that it is important that every employee is able to make independent decisions. Certainly, the executives expect confident and powerful staff but not everybody in a subsidiary of Pharmaz like the Indian is able to lead own projects cause of their education. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 320)
Consequently, a first characteristic of India's work culture is highlighted. Employees struggle with accepting unknown challenges, require structure and are in need of regulations from direct supervisors. (Birkinshaw & Caulkin n.d., Abstract)
Secondly, Amrita experiences difficulties in one of her teams. In consequence of different employees' cultural background and a completely different work culture at Pharmaz Denmark, lots of misunderstandings demand attention. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 321) Associated, the company should prioritize Amrita's management. Nowadays, it is important that manager focus on people management and so-called “push”-activities like coaching staff and meeting customers instead of “pull”-activities like responding to emails, according to the British columnist Simon Caulkin and professor Julian Birkinshaw. (Birkinshaw & Caulkin n.d.) Considered in an institutional context, the mentioned issue emphasizes a conflict during managing Indian staff in their home country with corporate values of Danes. The executives bring much pressure on Amrita and challenge her. Instead, asking for her proposals could be helpful to achieve corporate goals faster. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 321)
Another main issue is becoming noticeable while Niels and Amrita hold their meeting in Bangalore. Niels' way of communication seems to Amrita as strict, demanding and a challenge. Nevertheless, Amrita is collecting inspirations for further work. Simultaneously, Niels expects an exchange of ideas and likes Amrita to be open-minded. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 322)
Following this, the cultural difference of communication is shown: the powerful dominant Dane confronts the Indian who is communicating more emotional and looking for creativity. Moreover, Amrita does not express her doubts (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 323) when Niels is explaining the company's focus. She reacts unsociable while Niels demonstrates strong opinions (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 322).
Another discussion topic raises since Niels does not believe in the Indian work culture. Amrita needs lots of stages to convince him that her department cannot adopt the values immediately. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 324)
Furthermore, Denmark has a sharp focus on the values and also, Niels seems too optimistic in implementing them instead of abiding their time. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 324)
All mentioned issues can be linked to the model from Dr Geert Hofstede, a Dutch psychologist, who is well-known for his development of a framework for cross-cultural differences. (Hofstede n.d.) The hierarchic issue as well as the strict Indian role compliance will be discussed more detailed in the following paragraphs.
Key components of Amrita's approach for implementing the corporate values in India
Amrita contributes her ideas and work experiences while meeting the director though the implementation seems difficult to her.
The next aspects are components of her approach and count as demonstration of her openness and motivation:
1. Careful development
2. More work titles and focus on hierarchy
3. Reward system
Firstly, Amrita emphasizes the importance of acting well-considered. The values and especially the high focus on India need to be implemented slowly so that the employees can hold their performance level. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 324) Therefore, she suggests that Pharmaz focus on the Indian work environment and ethics. Bob Hayward (Hayward n.d.), an Australian consultant, holds a comparable opinion. In a blog entry named “10 important ingredients for a successful change implementation” he focuses on related risks and highlights that the environment, ethics and norms of leadership in selected countries play a decisive role. (Hayward 2012) Associated with Pharmaz, Amrita is doing well while concentrating on the employees' different expectations compared to the headquarter's.
Secondly, Amrita holds the opinion that her staff will be fairly engaged if more work positions exist. Indians like to have smaller steps on the career ladder to achieve a proper curriculum vitae, more employer's references and certificates that show their competences.
Oppositional, Niels is critical cause Amrita's desire does not fit into Pharmaz' title structure although he describes it as interesting. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 325) According to Amrita, a reward system could help slightly to lead her staff to accept the changes quickly. She describes that component as stimulation for employees since they parallel reach nominations for themselves. Awards might also bring new motivation in the everyday work and each employee can distance oneself from the group. (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 325) Finally, Amrita reflects a possible thinking in terms of welcoming a change even if it has to be modified for India. Though it is important to consider her approach since it includes changes as well.
Suggestions for improvements of Amrita's approach
The components of Amrita's approach are comprehensible from an outside perspective and target the Indian culture well. It is readily identifiable that Amrita gathered experiences in an Indian work environment (Dowling, Festing & Engle 2013, p. 320).
Nevertheless, Amrita's approach might be aligned to the Danish management. The Indian team has to pass the adoption of new corporate values like the company's management wants them to be lived.
On the one hand, the challenge for Amrita is to change her department carefully and to implement a way of motivating people like a reward system as mentioned. On the other hand, it must be at least equivalent that she involves employees and treats them with respect.