Cross cultural cooperation : a field study about India and Sweden

by Söderlind, Eva; Kidby, Sara

Abstract (Summary)
A successful cooperation between different cultures in a global organisation depends on a good understanding about the norms and the values in the other culture. To have a good understanding about other cultures makes it easier to build good international relationships between countries without misunderstandings and misperceptions.In this master thesis we investigate the cultural differences between Swedes and Indians that can be found in Swedish subsidiaries in India and if these cultural differences affect the cooperation between Indians and Swedes. The five cultural aspects that are in focus in this study are the following; 1. Identity – concerns if members of a business culture see themselves as individuals or as a collective (see figure 3, p.30). 2. Time – concerns how business cultures value time (see figure 4, p.32). 3. Ambiguity – concerns how business cultures react to the uncertainties and ambiguities in the daily work (see figure 5, p.34). 4. Integrative strategy – concerns if business cultures are conflict orientated or not, emphasise competitive behaviour or not, and how they value their free time (see figure 6, p.37). 5. Power and hierarchy – concerns how business cultures divide power and what they recognise as status (see figure 7, p.40). The empirical result was gathered during a two month field study in India where we interviewed both Swedish and Indian managers and engineers about their experience in cross cultural cooperation.The investigation revealed that there are differences in the cultures and that they affect the cooperation between Indians and Swedes in the subsidiaries. The biggest difference in identity was the informal classification in Indian business societies. The Swedish managers sometimes had problems with recognising the differences in ranks and the informal hierarchy among the Indians which could lead to Indian employees feeling bypassed and overlooked. (See 7.1.3 Conclusion of Identity, p.60) When it comes to differences concerning time the Indians were more optimistic about time and did not have the same respect as the Swedes regarding being on time and keeping deadlines. This could lead to problem in the cooperation because Swedes believed that time and money was wasted when deadlines were not kept. (See 7.2.3 Conclusion of Time, p.64) In the aspect of ambiguity Swedes valued safety more than taking risks when doing business. The Indians on the other hand valued risk taking more than safety. This led to problems in the cooperation because the Indians saw the Swedish way of always analysing risks before doing business as costly. Too much concern about safety led to non-competitive prices and loss of markets. (See 7.3.3 Conclusion of Ambiguity, p.68)In the analysis of integrative strategy we found that the Indian business society was regarding the manager as someone above the regular employee. This view led to problems in the communication between the Swedish managers and the Indian employees because the employees did not dare to criticise the manager’s decisions. The Swedish manager expected the employees to correct him when he was wrong and got disappointed when they did not. (See 7.4.4 Conclusion of Integrative strategy, p. 72) In the cultural aspect power and hierarchy we concluded that the manager in India was seen as someone with a lot of authority and as a father figure for the employees. This was not the case in Sweden where the manager was more seen as a companion. The different management styles led to confusion among the employees when the Swedish manager demanded them to be more independent and the Indian manager expected them to be more dependent on his authority. (See 7.5.4 Conclusion of Power and Hierarchy, p. 75) The result of this study gives a knowledge and understanding about cultural differences between Indians and Swedes and can be used as guidelines when cooperating across the Indian and Swedish culture.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Södertörns högskola

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:08/11/2005

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