The Grey Chronicles


Cultural Performance Management Analysis, Part III

This post, continued from the Cultural Performance Management Analysis, discusses the opposing pairs of cultural characteristics, Rules vs. Relation, 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.

C. Rules vs. Relation

NSC was very rules-oriented, there was a process for everything, almost everything. With the ISO documentation, processes were provided with checks and balances and this was even adopted to other management practices. Previously published standard practices and instructions and standard operating procedures were mostly transformed into ISO documents. There was even a time when NSC gave this particular process a new name: ISO-nized.

During my visit to an Indian plant sometime in August 2008, a former colleague who had been expatriated years ago, commented that compared to NSC’s ISO documents, which was voluminous, specific and detailed; their version only contained the minimum requirements of the QMS standard. Perusing the same, of course hiding my initial shock, I wondered how the company was able to handle the ISO certification when the documents were not even at par to my eye-for-detail as a ACCTII-trained Internal Quality Auditor.

Most NSC management personnel were adherents of the western-style management schools of thought. Participative management style where input from all participants is solicited became the norm. The NSC President, once claimed that its mantra was: Management by Objectives! and these objectives had their own requirements yet remained within a certain, limited, rules. Even in NSC’s pursuit for production volume, it was ruled by the value of quality: Quality of individual work, quality of production and quality of the end products.

Relationships remained impersonal. Most catered to the tenet: It’s only business, nothing personal! Although, some supervisory and managerial employees personally knew most of his subordinates, their family, even their dreams and aspirations, these intimate knowledge and personal relationships remained at a backseat during the performance of each other’s respective assignments.

Kanungo and Mendonca’s (1996) model explain the internal work culture of organizations in developing countries like India based on four dimensions and one additional dimension of associative thinking-abstractive thinking. Unfortunately, the Indian socio-cultural dimensions of high power distance, low masculinity, and high context-sensitive thinking are incompatible with participative management. Thus, it is no surprise that Indian senior management will ask input from a few trusted employees and then the inner circle will make a decision.

Furthermore, Indians, particularly Hindu, Dharma motivates duty to one’s life roles and family. Dharma states that every man should perform the duties incumbent on his station in society. Cultivation of relations, instead of rules, is much given a premium. Chong (2006) observed that traditionally, Indians’ “Nepotism and caste considerations affect selection and compensation. . . Work is viewed as a means to an end, i.e., for the sake of satisfying family needs. Little demand for changing work tasks, only the compensation is relevant.” Using any Internet search engine, one could view the relations in Ispat’s corporate organization. It is like a family tree, as normally found in any family-owned corporation.

Arindam Chaudhuri (2007) proposes to have an Indian Style of Management. Chaudhuri’s Theory “i” is based on these principles:

# Most Indians value bonds emotions and long-term relationships.
# Most Indians value growth opportunities and commitment.
# Our cultural roots (of tolerance etc.) often make us complacent.
# Lack of patriotism at a macro level leaves us aimless.

Among the praises from its readers, however, one very succinct comment states: “Actually what today is being called as Indian Management is hotchpotch of English teaching, American following, and Chinese stinginess and Russian equality in poverty put together” and was wary about the “Indians valuing bonds emotions and long term relationships.”

In the Indian context, hierarchy, operationalized through the gurushishya (teacher-student) relationship between the boss and the subordinate (Kumar and Sankaran, 2007), is loosely translated into organizational tutelage. Personalized relationships and nurturance of subordinates are typical. At the parent company, it was somewhat amusing that there is some tendency to maximize the levels in the organizational structure, in which one subordinate supervisor is reporting to another. Thus, in some cases a deputy shift supervisor is reporting to a shift supervisor, who reports to an assistant manager, who reports to the deputy manager, who reports to the senior manager, who reports to a deputy general manager, who reports to the senior manager. The latter ultimately reports to a vice president. Thus, at GSPI, similar structure is somewhat present although, upon the prodding by local managers who have seen the positive effect of NSC’s 1:7 program, i.e., one superior to seven subordinates, the levels have been minimized. Tutelage being followed as a rule is also disadvantageous. An expat-manager, falling from company grace, brought with him home most of his hired managers. Meanwhile, a new replacement makes the same old practice.

Bureaucracy is practiced to its utmost level, with relationships flourishing at a rate beyond belief! When I once attended a stand-up meeting, one particular expat-expert manager would not talk to me, and spoke as though I was not even there, but instead to my boss, asking him to ask me whether this or that was true. My boss explained that bureaucracy for Indians is based on affective reciprocity, a power play in terms of affection (sneh) and deference (shradha). Or indubitably, and very candidly: those who yield to power (my boss) are treated with due and undue favour and those who do not yield to power (me) are discriminated.


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

Chaudhuri, Arindam (2007). Indian Style of Management -Theory ‘i’ Management. Online: WordPress: Great Human Capital, 2007. back to text

Chong, Dr. Li Choy (2006). Management in India. Lecture presented at St. Gallen, Switzerland. Singapore: University of St. Gallen, Singapore Management University, 2006. back to text

Kanungo, R.N. and Mendonca, M. (1996). “Cultural contingencies and leadership in developing countries”, in Bacharach, S., Erez, M. and Bamberger, P. (Eds), Research in Sociology of Organisations, Vol. 14, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, pp. 263-95. back to text

Kumar, Madhu Ranjan & Shankar Sankaran (2007). Indian culture and the culture for TQM: a comparison. The TQM Magazine 19: 2. Online: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2007. pp. 176-188. 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

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

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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