Understanding the significance of cultural, economic, regulatory and ecological issues while establishing a business in a foreign country is of the utmost importance.
The business culture of India is a reflection of the various norms and standards followed by its people.
It is important that a person wanting to start a business in India has an idea of the business culture, ethics and customs followed there.
Some examples are:
- In India guests are treated with the utmost respect and courtesy. Indians have difficulty in saying no; this could be a stumbling block in negotiations and in closing contracts.
- The notion of time management and punctuality is still an anathema in India. It would not be surprising if meetings are postponed, re scheduled, cancelled or organized at a very short notice.
- Bureaucratic hurdles and a laidback approach to work in government circles could result in delays in processing, overload of paperwork and a general lack of confidence in the system. Therefore, immense patience is required for any business transactions in India.
- Indian business culture puts emphasis on favours, friendship and clanship. Friendship is highly valued. The Western concept of conflict of interest does not always mesh well with the Indian value of loyalty.
Ethics refers to the study and process of human conduct, as a part of the society or an institution, in the light of moral principles.
There is a strong belief in corporate social responsibility in India. Indian management style differs from that in the West in that decisions are made by the person at the top, not in a participatory way. This is typically a caste system by education.
In this era of hyper-competition and result-oriented nature of businesses, it is difficult to run huge empires on ethical grounds and standards but there are some points you can take into account.
- Be sure to source all your materials and supplies in an ethical way, using local suppliers and paying them the going rate for their products
- Appreciate the need for protecting human rights in developing countries such as India, particularly with regards to working hours and benefits
- Develop strong relationships with any craftspeople, local suppliers and customers you have
- Be sure to pay the correct salary for the job. In general, wages may be low in India but this is no reason to underpay staff. You are more likely to attract and hold on to the quality of staff you require if you ensure they have the salary, benefits and working environment they are entitled to.
The current ethical infrastructure in India perpetuates not only the divide between the rich and poor, but also creates companies that are not equipped to expand and compete within the global marketplace. Many Indian companies face enormous pressure to grow in the challenging global economy which is where having solid ethical governance policies and procedures come into their own.
Opening a business in India can involve a long and tedious process of registration with various bureaucratic agencies as well as a lot of time flying to India from your own country and back. But, there is untapped profit potential in this burgeoning economy and the rewards of having an ethical company in a place like India will see you not only reaping these rewards but being able to influence, shape and benefit the local community around it. This is particularly the case if you wish to set up an NGO in India. If you are determined, then you have a chance to make a very real and positive contribution to the future of a developing country.
James is a business travel blogger and freelance writer. When not covering topics like starting a business in India or covering the basics of an NGO he likes to spend his time reading and planning his next adventure.