Wharton is one of the few schools in the United States that has an India Center. Its Professor Michael Useem was recently interviewed by a Toronto paper. I was struck by some of his insights, quoted below,
” It comes down to these four distinctive approaches – everything else is pretty much the same in India, the U.S. and Canada, but in these four ways Indian business just, simply put, does it differently.
They are, number one, more inclined to be in a [what we call] holistic engagement with their employees; they focus on employees. To put that in a sentence, their employees are assets, and not a cost.
Number two: Indian companies are exceptionally good at being adaptable to the most trying of conditions.
Number three: Indian companies are coming up with pretty remarkable, what you might call value propositions: an automobile for $2,500, cellphone service for less than a penny per minute.
[And, finally] number four, and this may be the most distinctive of all: Indian companies put a huge emphasis not on shareholder value but on community, on country, and on family. There it is, in a nutshell.
While there is some truth to each of these assertions, my initial take is that they are much too broad and liable to be misinterpreted if taken literally by Western executives. I’ll try to chew over them and bring back some of my thoughts at a later date.