The Grey Chronicles


Cultural Performance Management Analysis, Part II

This post, continued from the Cultural Performance Management Analysis, discusses the opposing pairs of cultural characteristics, Meritocracy vs. Aristocracy, in terms of GSPI’s corporate scenario. Based on an example as explained by Buytendijk (2008) and featured in Profit Magazine (2009), instead of two companies, the cultural performance management analysis below considers two cultures: Indian expats and Filipino workers.

B. Meritocracy vs. Aristocracy

At NSC, everyone had a chance to work himself or herself up based on merits. Even new graduates could become NSC employees based on their respective qualifications and performance. Prospective replacements of NSC retirees, as stipulated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, were similarly hired based these requirements. Furthermore, the bonus program, based on over-performing on the goals, were given equitably and promptly.

In its Corporate Philosophy, NSC addressed a distinctive paragraph To our Employees:

“To recognize that the personal interests of employees are not alien to those of the company. To maintain high standards of performance and realistic and fair compensation for that competence.”

As such, NSC instituted a Behaviorally-Anchored Rating System [BARS] in the 1990s and this afforded financial gain, in terms of salary differentials, for individuals with exceptional or outstanding performance. The salary increase was commensurate with the latest BARS’ result and it was added to the basic salary in perpetuity.

NSC promotions were equally available to everyone. It is based on a set of objective requirements rather than whom one knows.

Most Indian expats came from Ispat which has been a family-owned business, particularly Mittal, for multiple generations. Also, Indians being British subjects historically, aristocracy is more the norm. Indian expats here have more to their name, in terms of renumeration and privileges, which has no equivalent to the similarly-ranked local employees.

Unlike NSC, there are virtually no reward systems based on job performance at GSPI. It rewards loyalty and provides bonuses only to certain employees, if rumors are to be believed, mostly expats. Only through the efforts of local managers had there been productivity bonuses based on performance for GSPI local employees. But the latter has much to be desired. One might argue that there is the TPM reward system. Unfortunately, the latter is used to promote a management-initiative to generate fuguais, kaizens, OPLs, but not inculcate the individual value and merit of good performance.

Even the thirteenth-month pay, a legally allowed incentive for all Filipino workers, is a bone of contention at present, irrespective whether the company is doing what some claimed to be illegal in this part of the world. Salary increases, too, are a thing of the past. From 2004, the only substantial salary increases benefited most of all the expats, because of the relative hardship rule, rather than the majority: local employees.

Incidentally, Pradip Bhattacharya (2005) reviewing S.K. Chakraborty’s Values and Ethics in Management: Theory and Practice observes:

“The major and almost insuperable obstacle the author and those embarking on a similar quest face is a wall of blind ignorance existing in modern Indian managers and management institutions. The Occident is seeking to find the secrets of sustenance from the philosophy of the Orient. Tragically, the Indian management don, unlike his Japanese and Chinese counterparts, prefers to look the other way and refuses to heed these warnings that stare him in the face. . . Chakraborty makes a powerful plea for developing wisdom-leadership by cultivating the Total Quality Mind, as a counterbalance to the mechanical Total Quality Management, using Indian psycho-spiritual processes to practice working without personal greed with the superordinate goal of lokasangraha for the world’s welfare.” [Emphasis mine]

Unfortunately, the above is the theory, but not the practice. At least not here!

Going back to Chong and Argrawal (2006) research on the emerging contemporary Indian management style, there appears a tendency “for Indian managers to value relevant educational background and experience.” Yet, in the GSPI experience, Filipinos with high educational background and experience are only left to become subservient to some Indian expat-managers. One case was a Ph.D.-engineer subsequently resigned after he was repeatedly transferred from one area to another to maximize his potentials and expertise, without due respect for the latter’s position, which he retained his old title, or a substantial review of his compensation.

Sinha (1997, p. 58) notes:

“Indians tend to arrange things, persons, relationships, ideas and almost everything hierarchically. Even the Indian Gods are hierarchized. The high power distance, status consciousness, centralization of decision making, need to depend upon a patron and so on, are manifestation of this preference for hierarchy.” [Emphasis mine]

This status consciousness is also visibly seen in the local scenario. Some expats even wanted their own respective cubicle, to separate himself from all others: expats and local employees. It is seemingly important to some expats that they be seen as on top of the corporate ladder rather than being situated near a local employee of the same position. At one instance, an expat arriving for work on the first day in the Philippines called a meeting requiring the attendance of most local supervisors and managers. The meeting was held, devoid of a sensible agenda except for formal introductions, but apparently there was no need for it because the expat was found to be directly reporting to the local division head, instead of the other way around! Some even wanted to be considered royalty requiring that local employees bow their heads before them; or demanding that his request be considered a priority, first and foremost, irrespective of whether there were others with similar, equally important, requests ahead of him.


Bhattacharya, Pradip (2005). The Quest for an Indian Paradigm of Management, BookTitle. Online: Boloji Media Inc., 04 December 2005. back to text

Buytendijk, Frank (2008). Performance Leadership: The Next Practices to Motivate Your People, Align Stakeholders, and Lead Your Industry. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. back to text

Chong, L.C & Agrawal, N.M (2006). Rediscovering Indian Management. Singapore: University of St. Gallen, Singapore Management University. 12pp. back to text

Sinha, J.B.P. (1997). “A cultural perspective in organisational behaviour in India”, in Erley, C.P. and Erez, M. (eds.) New Perspective on Industrial/Organisational Psychology. San Francisco, CA: New Lexington Press, 1997. pp. 53-74. back to text

Mehta, Monica (2009). Performance Leadership: A Q&A with Frank Buytendijk, Profit: The Executive’s Guide to Oracle Applications, 14:1. Skokie, IL: Oracle Publishing, February 2009. p. 32-33. back to text

Disclaimer: The posts on this site does not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions; and unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

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