Managing the Risks of Globalization

A couple of years ago, I was at the ET CEO Roundtable on this subject, part of ET’s Corporate Excellence Awards annual do.  An Indian corporation already manages people from 5-7 cultures who speak 8-15 languages and 3-4 variations of English.  They eat different varieties of food and have different social habits.  They are Indians.  Cultural challenges of globalization are far more manageable for Indian companies, compared with MNCs from around the world.  One key aspect that needs to be tackled is the disparity in remuneration – which is also true within India.  Within the same company, a person could be earning Rs.35 lakhs p.a. at Bangalore and his counterpart at Jaipur Rs.15 lakhs.

Let us look at another important issue.  We hire foreign consultants, especially for new-age businesses, as we believe they bring knowledge and experience, and will create value.  But we don’t follow 80% of their advice.  We say it won’t work in India.  How do we know, when we haven’t done it before?  And, if we know, why hire the foreign consultant? 

On the other hand, when foreign sahibs suggest something, no matter how irrelevant, Indian consultants and employees (sometimes even JV partners) accept it as is.  After all, the gora sahib wants it.  Well, some goras want to build apartment buildings in India with bomb-proof concrete walls and bullet-proof window panes.  They’re from a country which is under constant attack from adversaries.  They also want to mix 1-bed and 4-bed apartments on the same floor.  As is usual, the Indian partners and architects have accepted this.  Hmmm …. Globalization…


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