Every society, community and country has its own culture. When one is doing business in the international environment, knowledge of cultural peculiarities is one of the keys to global commercial success. It is necessary to be familiar with people from other cultures, aware of power distance, display of respect, uncertainty avoidance, in-group and institutional collectivism, gender egalitarianism, assertiveness, future orientation, performance and humane orientation. This variety of looking at things and personality can cause problems.
Cross-cultural study of 76 different countries was made by Greet Hofstede. He identified four independent components of national cultural distinctions. These dimensions include Power Distance, Individualism versus Collectivism, Masculinity versus Femininity, and Uncertainty Avoidance. India and United Kingdom were among the explored countries (Hofstede, n.d.).
India is considered as a unique and mysterious civilization with rich and diverse cultural traditions that affect all spheres of life. Factors like regionalism, caste, language and religion need to be taken into account while studying Indian society.
British people are famous for their love of tradition, which can be observed in practically all aspects of life and behavior. Although British people tend to be rather conservative and prefer familiar things, they are a part of modern Western society, which is full of change, and changes are taking place in the country from year to year.
The Hofstede’s analysis of India finds out a large power distance, demonstrating appreciation for a top-down structure not only in organizations, but in the whole society. It is displayed in the following facts: dependence on the boss for direction, paternalistic leader, inequality between the power-privileged and those who are less important in the hierarchy. The huge power distance shows that the caste system still exist (Henderson & Henderson, 2002). The caste system, according to the Hinduism, created a culture where relationships are based on hierarchy. Real power is centralized with direct management and control. Communication is directive in its style, and employees know clearly what is expected from them. It means a high acceptance of unequal rights in division of authority and prosperity within the society.
Indians appreciate interpersonal relationships more than other nations. Thus, win-win relationships as the result of mutual trust and friendship come before business agreement. Both business and society are enormously hierarchically organized, and Indians find it problematic to work in non-hierarchical structure. Businessmen in India pay too much heed to personal titles (Khandekar & Sharma, 2006).
The British society has a low power distance, and, thus, a belief that inequalities between people must be minimized is prevalent among British. At first sight, is seems dissimilar from the traditional British class system, but there is a deep conviction that a birthplace should not limit the distance of one’s travel in life. In such way, people are considered as equals.
Collectivistic traits are strongly pronounced in Indian society, as people belong to large social groups, and individuals are anticipated to act in accordance to rules and norms established in these groups. In this regard, a person is influenced by different relationships: family, work group, neighbors, friends and other social networks. Hiring and encouragement decisions are also made on the basis of relationships, which are the explanation to everything in a collectivist society.The Indians put a strong accent on priority of group goals over the individual goals (Malach-Pines and Kaspi-Baruch, 2008).
The British society is a highly private and individualistic one. People are trained to search for their exclusive purpose in life from early childhood, and one is supposed to achieve happiness through personal realization. People are concerned only about themselves and their direct family. Self-image is measured by the term I, not We, unlike in the Indian collectivist community. People in the United Kingdom are not so deeply respectful to parents and elders as those in India.
India is considered as a masculine society with a peculiar vision of power and success. Symbols of achievements in the workplace are significant. It also means that values of men and women are absolutely different. India holds one of the lowest positions in the world in the rate ofgender equality. The scope of gender inequality is measured by four criteria: educational attainment, economic participation, health and survival, political empowerment. Nevertheless, in the sphere of business only those women who hold a position of authority are treated with respect, because Indians are affected by hierarchical level more than gender subject (Business culture in India, n.d.).
The United Kingdom has also a high score on masculine aspect. Therefore, the British people are ambitious with a motivation to achieve success and be the best. One adopts such system of values in school, and its influence is visible at work in the future. In contrast to feminine culture of the Scandinavian countries, the British people have a clear performance ambition and live in order to work.
As the United Kingdom and India share mutual masculine culture, social gender roles are visibly distinct in both countries.
India has low uncertainty avoidance as its tolerance for the unexpected is traditionally high, and a break of monotony is even welcomed. As a rule, people do not take any actions or initiatives, and contentedly stay in their routine without facing critics and questions. It is often caused by Indian culture and religion. Nevertheless, people manage to invent a way of bypassing the rules, and that is why there is a saying “nothing is impossible in India”.
The United Kingdom’s score on this point is also low, which means that this nation changes the plans with new information. The British people wake up not knowing what the day will bring. Actually there are not too many regulations in the British community, but people make a point of following the existing rules. In the work situations, planning is not detail-oriented, and the end goal is clear. Thus, the working process is adjusted to changing and emerging environment (Hofstede, n.d.).
The Indians’ long-term orientationscore is 61 against the world average of 48. This high LTO indicator shows that the Indian culture is persevering and parsimonious. The concept of karma prevails in philosophical and religious thought. There is a particular understanding of time that differs from Western attitude. Hinduism is often viewed as a philosophy rather than a religion by the majority of population with its esoteric beliefs. Society with a long-term orientation naturally is characterized by a lack of punctuality, as one usually acts on their own rather than according to an established plan (Baumann, 2007).
The British society is short-term oriented with great respect for traditions, and focus on the future result at the same time. As it is mentioned above, business is concentrated on quick results and short-term goals. There is a widespread saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. The London Stock Exchange with its attention to quarterly results of drive stock valuations is a striking example of the British culture.
The anthropologist Edward Hall has made a distinction between low and high-context cultures and their influence on communication. India has a high-context culture, which largely depends on the external situation, environment, and non-verbal behavior. Trust and interpersonal relations are central factors for making business. The British culture is low-context. The environment is less significant, and non-verbal communication is often unnoticed. Businessmen trust legal documents more than personal relations. Interpersonal skills in the workplace are shown by assertive communication. Thus, work is based not on intuition, but on logical reasoning.
The analysis of cultural differences between India and the UK was done using the approaches of Hofstede and Hall. The exploration shows significant dissimilarities among them that must be known in order to avoid cross-cultural conflicts. Based on the above, we recommend paying attention to Indian cultural aspects including religion, collectivism, and fatalism as components of Indian everyday life. As compared to the UK, India has high power distance and long-term orientation. Its culture is also high-context and collectivist or, in other words, group-oriented. The United Kingdom is an individual or self-oriented society with low power distance, short-term orientation and low-context culture. Uncertainty avoidance of both countries is low. Another similarity is masculine society, but India has lower level of gender equality. Hence, such cultural differences affect people’s relations, behavior and communication.