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This behavior is not considered dishonest; in fact, and Indian person would be considered rude if he or she did not try to attempt to give a person what has been requested.
Another very important aspect of business culture in India is the meeting etiquette. Meeting Etiquette is influenced by all sorts of cultural elements described above, including social class. For example, in India, one must greet the eldest or more senior first, and when leaving a group each person must bid farewell individually. Though shaking hands is common, this is only in big cities, where the natives are accustomed to Westerners. Men and women, however, do not usually shake hands.
The next part of the business culture is knowing Indian names, and where they originate. According to one article, names are based upon "religion, social class, and region of the country." For Hindus for example, in the north, people are given a name and a surname. However, in the south, they do not have surnames and generally utilize the initial of their father's name in from of their own names. With Muslim Indians, one will notice that they do not have the surnames and instead, "men add the father's name to their own name with the connector 'bin'. So, Abdullah bin Ahmed is Abdullah the son of Ahmad. Women use the connector 'binti'. The title Hajji (m) or Hajjah (f) before the name indicates the person has made their pilgrimage to Mecca," according to the same article.
Lastly, Sikha utilize the name Singh overwhelmingly, as it is adopted as a surname or as a name connector to the surname.
Though this may not be usually done in a business setting, one must be aware of the gift giving etiquette. For example is one is invited to a person's house and wishes to bring a gift, thought this is not necessary, he or she must avoid giving white flowers, as they are utilized at funerals. A gift from a man should come from himself and, if he does not have a wife, some other female relative (i.e. mother or sister). Hindu people should not be given gifts that are made of leather, and Muslim people ought not be given gifts made of pigskin or alcoholic products. Furthermore, one must mind that gifts will not be opened once received, as this will be done only in private.
When dining at a person's home, it is important to be punctual, dress modestly, and take off the shoes before entering a house. Furthermore, it is part of the protocol to turn down first offers of tea, coffee or snacks. Table manners while dining are formal, though it can be trumped by religious beliefs (i.e. eating with one's fingers). A visitor must wait until he or she is told where to sit, as guests are usually sat in a particular order, which will be mirrored in the way that they will be served. Lastly, one must always use the right hand, and leave some food on the plate when finished, as a clear plate will be taken as a sign that one is still hungry.
With regards to more official protocol, one must be aware of more specific details. For example, though Indians usually only do business with people they know and though this is changing, relationships are still build upon mutual trust and respect, and many have long-standing personal relationships prior to doing business; thus if one goes through a third party introduction, credibility is probable, if not immediate. If traveling for an appointment, especially with someone whom one has not yet met, it is advisable to make an appointment in a few months in advance, and check up prior to the appointment to ensure it has not been cancelled. Most Indians, furthermore, will prefer a meeting in late morning or early afternoon. Further, one must be aware that often, a meeting "will start with a great deal of getting-to-know-you talk. In fact, it is quite possible that no business will be discussed at the first meeting."
United States vs. India: A Cultural Comparison
With the aforementioned business-related and business protocol in mind, one must now examine similarities and differences between the United States and India, with respect to the way business is conducted in both countries. In the United States, business is very serious, as it is in India. However, in the U.S. many people can be informal and jocular in certain instances, especially if in an informal setting. As seen above, however, even when having dinner, one must follow a certain kind of protocol that is entrenched in the country's rich history. Therefore, culture becomes a very important aspect. There are, however, many similarities between doing business in India and the United States, and they are given in a list below:
Mutual understanding and respect is necessary
If a person loses his or her temper he will not be as respected
Delays are excusable, but not preferred
Dress attire is usually formal for both men and women, though this also depends on the weather often times
Titles are important, as are business cards, which must be presented at the first meeting
Even within this small list of similarities one can see familiar instances of similarity; however, in addition to differences seen throughout the Indian Culture section above, there are specific differences of which one must take note. For example:
In a negotiation, one must expect concessions for anything that is granted
One can never appear too focused on legal aspects (in Indian culture one's word is sufficient)
One should not disagree publicly with a team member
One must wait before utilizing someone's first name without a title
Negotiations will often be very slow, as quick decisions are almost never taken
Though this may seem like a "crash course," both in light of the short historical part, and of the cultural part presented above, it is important to take into consideration these cultural differences, especially prior to doing business in India. There are many websites which can point one in the right direction. For example, an Indian consultant gives a list of 19 sections that one must study prior to going to India and speaking about business, and these are rendered below in a short summary:
Introduction, geography, climate, and population
Demographic profile, government and political structure
Economy and entrance requirements
Making appointments India: Appointment Alert! - Part 2
More information on making appointments
Guidelines for business dress
Welcome topics of conversation
Topics to avoid in conversation
Addressing others with respect
Selecting and presenting an appropriate business gift
What you should know before you negotiate
Intermediaries, protocols, and the negotiating process
The negotiating process, continued
General tips, eating and drinking
Eating continued and business entertaining
Acceptable public conduct
Though this list may seem overwhelming at first, it is important to note that such a list must be compiled and studied prior to going to any country for business purposes, and especially if opening a new business; furthermore, one must keep in mind that people in India may study the same way if coming to the U.S. This section has thus sought to address similarities and differences between the two cultures and has found a multitude of both, especially in light of the list provided, which mirrors previous sections' topics. However, one must note that these topics are very general, and if one truly wishes to open a new business in the country, a more in depth study must be performed.
Consideration for United States Businesses
All the aforementioned points must be taken into consideration if a business wishes to invest in the Indian marketplace, and further thought must certainly be given to studying the country much more, and in more depth. One issue that has not been presented above, but that was reflected in the first section, for example, and one which could come from such an in depth study as should be undertaken, would be the fact that often times, due to the median age in India, one may need to deal with younger workers, and one should be prepared to do so and respect these workers as one would respect elderly workers. Furthermore, such questions may arise as whether to greet a senior person (perhaps young), or an older person who may not be a senior person. Such questions should be taken into consideration for anyone wishing to invest in India.
Prior to investing in India, furthermore, a business must also be aware that a Business Process Management (BPM) strategy is necessary. According to one study, there are indicators that "the Indian cultural characteristics of high power distance, collectivism, low uncertainty avoidance and high context have resulted in highly informal BPM governance practices which might appear ambiguous and chaotic to persons who are unfamiliar with the cultural context."
The study further found that characteristics…[continue]
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