Last week I posted a small post about cultural differences between India and Norway when it comes to the work culture. I did get some interesting comments on this post and thought that I should follow up on the comments. Let me first just say a few words about the “research” behind my post(s). I do mostly base my posts on a mix of what I read in books and on-line and my own experience. As of now, I have lived and worked almost 1,5 year in India. There are surely a lot of people who have more experience than me in working abroad, and there are surely also people who have more experience in working with India and Norway. I would also like to stress that I don’t try to point in any direction and say that how things are done in one country is better or worse than how it is done at the other places. I just try to write about the differences the way I see it. It is also important to point out that I’m a Norwegian, born and raised there, and that my view of India is off course affected with my background. When I for example write that I feel that the organization structure in India is more hierarchical than in Norway, I don’t try to say that it is bad or wrong, I’m just pointing at the differences between what I see in organizations in India compared to what I see in Norway.
I think there were mainly two points in my previous article that I received feedback on. One was regarding communication, and the fact that I wrote that in India it is not that common to share information about what you did in the weekend and such. I do agree very much with the comment I got that Norwegians probably “do more” in weekends than what Indians does. At least when it comes to being outside and try out different things. Some of my Indian colleagues have told me that when the weekend is there, they would very much like to spend time home and relax. This due to the fact that life is so stressful and that they actually need this valuable time with their family. I think the way people uses the word “stress” differently in India and in Norway is quite interesting. And it is absolutely sure that where Indians might like to stay home to “stress down”, Norwegians might rather like to go for a run, a bike trip or even mostly for a skiing trip!
The other area in where I got some feedback was regarding organizations and how superiors / subordinates are related to each other. Again, I would like to stress the fact that I write about differences between India and Norway, and that I do not try to write anything bad about how things are in India. My experience is still that in India there is a much clearer hierarchy and that lower rank people expect their managers to make decisions to a much higher degree than what is the fact in Norway. One recent example on this is an experience I had on a flight to Goa this Friday. The passenger next to me was not really happy with the food. Instead of complaining to the person who had served him, he asked to speak to the supervisor. In Norway, I do think that the actual flight attendant would have handled the situation herself and that this escalation would not have been needed. Some of the same happened when I had problems to get my AC installed last year. I complained to the person who had sold me it. Instead of trying to help me, he immediately went to his manager to get advice. The manager said that he could not do anything at all. I then required speaking to his manager, and I think I went even one more level up. Only this person actually had the authority to change the AC and get my problem solved. Again, in Norway, I would have expected that this would have been sorted out at a lower level. I honestly don’t even think that we have any shops in Norway where we actually have four levels of people. If the sales person could not get things sorted out, he or she would have gone directly to the store manager, and he/she would have got it sorted out.
I think this is a very interesting topic, so please feel free to join in with any comments. People surely might think different from me, and I do really appreciate that.
Talk to you soon!