Due to Western Novelty’s Outsourcing scheme, Todd Anderson is sent to India. Upon arrival, Todd has completely no idea of what territory he is stepping into. With the lack of awareness of the Indian culture, he first falls victim to a taxi driver’s trickery, has to literally “hop” on a train and although he is offered a seat on the “can-packed” train carriage by a boy, but in return he has to offer up his lap for the boy to sit on. On first sight, Todd experienced a culture shock from the manifest culture of India (Sathe, 1985) that attacked his own “core” and starts to form judgments about this seemingly dirty and primitive country.
The initial contact with a new culture gives rise to cultural differences and Todd finds himself struggling with them. This is the result of the differences in cultural dimensions. The first dimension contrasting India and Todd, would be Collectivism versus Individualism. Individualism refers to how much a person is self-centered and free from control; Collectivism refers to how the overall group’s interest is placed above an individual. (Hofstede, 1980) Using scores from the GLOBE project, India scores a high 5. 92, much higher than the USA’s score of 4. 5 on the collectivistic scale where higher refers to more collectivistic. (House et al. 2004)
Todd, originating from the US, is characterized as an employee who only has to worry about himself, does not involve himself with other employees. In the first scene, employees from the US have a very big private space to themselves and the boss Dave has an even more private enclosure. The office space reflects the culture of individualism from the US. However, in India, we see that employees interact with each other more frequently, such as Asha helping out with employees and smaller desks for closer working conditions.
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Even the supervisor’s desk lacked privacy due to the missing glass, which Todd makes a big fuss about and showed closeness between the employer and employees. It is apparent that the employees in India have a more collectivistic corporate culture and this affected Todd’s individualistic values and beliefs. However, later in the film, Todd’s individualistic personality slowly evolves into a collectivistic one as he immerses himself into India’s culture and changed his leadership style.
This showed during the incident when there was flooding, Todd and the staff members worked together as a team and Todd even asked his neighbour to help with the power connections to benefit the group’s goal. What Todd went through during his immersion in India’s culture is called Primary Socialization (Berger & Luckman, 1967) where he learned India’s culture through living with Puro’s Aunt and socializing with the locals. Without the change in Todd from an individualist to a collectivist, the business could not have been as motivated or productive or achieved its goal.
Power distance is the extent to which power is unequally distributed in a collective. A higher power distance score reflects high unequal distribution of power. From the GLOBE scores India has a higher power distance than the US (India = 5. 47; US = 4. 88) (House et al. 2004). In the movie, the Indian employees show a high power distance because they treat their superiors with respect. This could be seen in the actions of Puro. When he was reprimanded for the first time, he did not end up in an extreme debate with Todd regarding the high level of the MPI.
On the second incident, when he was scolded, he was very apologetic and was thoughtful to bring clean food for Todd. This showed Puro’s deep reverence for the leader of the office. Another example was how the employees did not ask about better working conditions and accepted whatever Todd had dictated on them from the start until much later. However, when compared with the way Todd talks to Dave, the barrier between him and the superior is thin. Todd can express his thoughts and freely rebut Dave with his own opinions – such as calling Dave “corporate slimeball”, arguing over the MPI or the freight of company products.
The language used through the communication between Dave and Todd sounds too casual to represent a high power distance. The impact power distance had on Todd was great because he had to change his casual methods, as seen during the accent classes, to exerting his leadership on the employees. However, the Power Distance between Todd and Dave did not change.
The humane orientation of India ranks much higer than the US according to GLOBE project (India = 4. 57; US = 4. 17) (House et al. 004) The business in India does show a more humane style of working such as Asha caring for the employees, Puro caring Todd by taking him into his family circle and even caring for his well-being such as bringing him clean food. This dimension also affected the business when Todd finally changes his style of leadership. His humane orientation changes from a negative, sulky manager who lashes out at every opportunity he can to a more encouraging manager who becomes a positive influence to the employees.
However, throughout the film we see that Dave does not seem to care about the employees in India or even those who were outsourced right from the start. The carefree words he used when he wanted to fire his US employees tell us that he was more interested in cutting the costs of employment and his position as boss rather that the futures of the employees. This impacted the business in India later when he continued to cut costs further by bringing the business to China. Additionally, Dave keeps bossing and pushing Todd around, first sending him to India, giving him a hard time over his contract and even tried to send him to China.
We have already established that India tends towards a collectivist culture and the US an individualist culture. Hence, different dimensions will require different motivational and leadership patterns. An individualist culture has both the employee and employer trying to make communal decisions that will benefit both parties, while in the collectivist culture, the reliance on the leader to have the whole group involved is much greater. (Thomas, 2003) The cultural dimensions of India affects the way things are done in the corporate Indian office and Todd has to see them.
Earley (1993) also proved a relationship that collectivist cultures would show more work motivation and productivity. Using Vroom’s Motivational theory, there lies a central theme of Expectancy Theory. From there we can identify different motivational factors in the film. Expectancy theory is based on of deciding how much effort should be put into a job for an outcome. The process of Expectancy Theory has 3 components – Effort, Performance and Outcome. Among these 3 components, there are 2 expectancies.
First is the Effort to Performance expectancy that is the belief whether making effort will lead to an expected success. The second is the Performance to Output expectancy that is how much value of the reward of the outcome. (Vroom, 1964) What the expectancies mean is that if a person believes that a certain performance will lead to a desired outcome, they will then input effort that will produce the required performance to achieve the outcome. In the middle of the film, this theory can be applied when Todd decided to introduce an incentive programme for employees.
The programme allowed employee discounts for western novelty products. Additionally, as part of the motivational process, he gave an edict that whoever improves the Minutes Per Incident (MPI) for the day would get their pick on merchandises from their best sellers of their products. This is the work of Expectancy theory taking place – with the new incentive programme, the employees clearly know what performance will lead to a desired outcome, hence they will instinctively put in effort to achieve the performance required.
Whereas for Todd, his outcome is to leave India and the performance is to bring the MPI to 6. 0. Hence his effort component will require him to comply with the collectivist culture of the Indian branch to achieve the outcome. Thus we see that their performance component to achieve a 6. 0 MPI is the same, their effort and outcomes are different because of differing roles, and individual goals. These differing roles and goals can be attributed to the differing individual needs. We can also apply Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory to the film.
His theory suggests that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are two separate dimensions instead of two extremes of one dimension. (Herzberg , 1968) His hygiene factors refer to external factors such as factors outside an employee’s job that influences him. These are ‘dissatisfiers conditions’ – if they are present, the worker is neutral; but if absent, the worker will be dissatisfied. In the film, after the Day of Holy, Todd acknowledges his mistake of trying to run the Indian branch as an American office and asks how he could change the way the office is run.
Suggestions include bringing family pictures to work, allowing them to bring what they want to the office as long as it doesn't get in the way of work, and wear whatever they want to work including ethnic clothing. We can tell from the employees’ faces that without proper working conditions, they were dissatisfiers to their productivity and after Todd had acknowledged change, it put a smile to their faces. For Todd’s position, when he first arrived in India, the working conditions were a total dissatisfier because the working conditions were different from his usual ones, especially because the place was in a rural lace and even animals were in the office.
The culture shock resulted in him becoming difficult in the workplace such as scolding Puro a few times. However, later on in the film, other hygiene factors such as the build up in relationships between the characters helped overpowered his original hygiene factors. The second factor from Herzberg is the Motivation factor that is intrinsic in nature. These include interesting work, responsibility or career advancement. If they are present, the worker will be satisfied, but if absent the worker remains neutral.
Asha did not want to sign up for the incentive programme, and from her other actions and words, we can assume that her motivational factor was the work itself, or a career advancement – when she took the initiative to act as supervisor on the Day of Holy and acting as a supervisor when they setup the office on the roof. Todd also promoted her to be the future assistant call manager. For Todd, it was after the Day of Holy where he became motivated to take on the challenge and responsibility of the business. We can also use McClelland’s Learned Needs Theory, to spot other motivational differences between the characters.
The Learned Need Theory states that there is three major needs that influences people’s behaviour - need for achievement, power and affiliation. (McClelland, 1966, 1985) The need for achievement relates to individuals who want success or failure. This can be identified with Dave who’s only concern was himself, maximize the company’s profits by outsourcing the lowest cost possible services and neglecting the benefits of others. This need for achievement can also be identified in Todd when he first arrives and is only concerned about himself and forcing the MPI down to 6. 0.
However, he then realized that to achieve this, he has to had establish a reputable presence in the company which is the second need in the Learned Need Theory. The need for power relates to achieving reputation, and control over others. We might only see this through Todd in the later part of the movie whom starts to understand his position in India and makes the best of it by being the best manager possible and trying to win over the employees. But this was still done so that he can leave India when the MPI reaches 6. 0. So Todd achieves this by gaining respect from his subordinates by introducing an incentive programme.
Todd knows that by introducing the programme, it will motivate him further. The need for affiliation relates to establishing relationships with others. This is seen in Asha who helps employees every now and then in the film. Asha’s needs are also different from other employees, as she does not want any of the incentives outlined by Todd. Rather she establishes relationships between herself, the employees, Puro and Todd. This need is also manifested in these three characters because of the collectivistic corporate nature of the Indian branch.
The relationship between the three characters deepens throughout the movie because they realized they were in the same boat and they had to achieve a common goal together, which becomes a shared need. To sum up, the film showed us how our protagonist, Todd, developed his cultural intelligence (CQ). The distinct cultural differences between India and US, the contract between Todd and Dave left the protagonist with the uncontested choice to stay put and that had in effect, supported his development of cultural intelligence.
Todd had went through the stages of CQ development – Reaction, Recognition, Accommodation, Assimilation and Proactivity (Thomas 2003) Not only did he learn about and adapt to the new culture, he had also learned that he had to alter his corporate processes to make the business work. At the end, when Dave recommended Todd to move to China, he declined probably because Todd knew how hard it was to change and adapt to a new culture.
- Berger, P. and Luckmann, T. (1967) The Social Construction of Reality. New York: Doubleday. Earley, P. C. 1983) “East meets West meets Mideast: Further Explorations of Collectivistic and Individualistic Work Groups,” Academy of Management Journal, 36 (2), 319-48
- Herzberg, F. (1968) “One more Time: How Do You Motivate Employees” Harvard Business review, Jan-Feb Edition, 53-62 Hofstede, G. (1980) Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
- House, R. J. , Hanges, P. J. , Javidan, M. , Dorfman, P. W. , and Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, Leadership, and Organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Sage Publications: London.
- Javidan, M. , Dorfman, P.W. , de Luque, M. S. , and House, R. J. (2006) “In the eye of the beholder: Cross-Cultural lessons in leadership from Project GLOBE. ” Academy of Management Perspectives, 20(1): 67-90.
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- Thomas D. C. , Inkson K. (2003) ‘Cultural Intelligence: People skills for Global Business’, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Vroom, V. H. (1964) ‘Work and Motivation’, New York: Wiley. 331p.
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