The concept of ‘work culture’ becomes important when any organization goes global. This very topic becomes all the more interesting when I look into Indian tech companies. Before getting into details, let me lay down two major type of work cultures (Eastern & Western) and their underlying philosophy.
It is also important to understand that work culture is primarily derived from the societal architecture of that particular country or geography, where the organization has its origin. For example, US is known for creating innovative stuff (ex: iPhone from Apple), ranging from cars to music players, whereas organizations from countries like Korea (ex: Samsung Galaxy) is known for optimizing and making them cost effective. Free thinking oriented western approach helps in creating new products, whereas discipline oriented eastern approach helps in optimizing the product in terms of cost, quality, time-to-market etc. If we look little deeply these are strengths ‘by design’, derived from the way how the society functions.
The fun begins when these technology companies (both from east and west) open their offshore/captive organizations in India primarily to leverage the low-cost talent. India is very different both from east and west where we don’t have a work culture of our own. The first generation public sector organizations still follow the same old hierarchy oriented system and second generation manufacturing organizations have somehow able to create a work culture aligned with Indian society. But for folks working in technology companies the experience varies from one organization to other, depending on the origin of parent organization.
The bottom line is this – Are people are really productive? For example flexible, open and responsibility oriented western work culture is perceived as a ‘cool place’ to work in India. Based on my personal experience I have seen very high level of misuse. The so called ‘flexibility’ is misinterpreted as ‘doing less work’ and openness is misinterpreted as ‘can ask anything to anybody’. I see such behavior creating a great damage in the long run as the cost advantage already started evaporating over the years now. On the other side we are not as disciplined as eastern organizations. When policies are imposed, people started cribbing from all the ends.
This leads to another interesting question – What exactly is going to be the value addition from Indian product organizations in the long run, beyond cost? If neither innovation not discipline is our core strength, how long it can sustain? How long we can sing the song of ‘software engineering processes’ and derive sustainable advantage out of it?