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Angelangels Angelangels
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Posts: 36
2 months ago
You are the vice president of operations for a U.S.-based software firm that is exploring building a software design operation in India. Typically when international firms enter the Indian market, they quickly learn how a caste system can affect business activities. Although officially banned, the caste system still dictates everyday life for many people in India. You are confident regarding the likelihood of business success there, but you have strong misgivings about the caste system.

Do you think it will be possible to import and uphold a U.S. management style in India despite lingering effects of the caste system?

How do you think your company’s stakeholders would feel about your company simply adjusting to local management practices?
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anonymous661anonymous661
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Posts: 191
2 months ago
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Do you think it will be possible to import and uphold a U.S. management style in India despite lingering effects of the caste system?

A.   A caste system is a system of social stratification in which people are born into a social ranking, or caste, with no opportunity for social mobility. India is the classic example of a caste culture. Although the Indian constitution officially bans discrimination by caste, its influence persists. Little social interaction occurs between castes, and marrying out of one’s caste is taboo. Opportunities for work and advancement are defined within the system, and certain occupations are reserved for the members of each caste. For example, a member of a lower caste cannot supervise someone of a higher caste because personal clashes would be inevitable. The caste system forces Western companies to make some difficult decisions when entering the Indian marketplace. They must decide whether to adapt to local human resource policies in India or to import their own from the home country. As globalization penetrates deeper into Indian culture, both the nation’s social system and international companies will face challenges.

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How do you think your company’s stakeholders would feel about your company simply adjusting to local management practices?

Students must understand that understanding cultural differences is crucial to developing strong relationships. The question in this vignette poses a real dilemma for international companies operating in India. Local management practices can be very different from the company’s practices in its home country. The response by most companies is to implement the home country policies but to adapt them to the local market. This is probably best accomplished by placing as head of the Indian operation an Indian-born employee that has worked for the company in the home country who understands the corporate culture. This manager would know what policies can or cannot be implemented in the Indian subsidiary.
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