Why is cultural competence so important when off shoring

Hi everyone

Yesterday I did a lecture at Software 2012, a seminar hosted by The Norwegian Computer Society. My lecture was about why cultural competence is so important when doing off shoring. During my 1, 5 year in India I have seen so many misunderstandings and made many misunderstandings myself, which have had their root in cultural misunderstandings. That’s why I think this topic is so important and that it is something that should be discussed even more. You can find the presentation here:

Presentation from Software 2012

After the presentation I got some quite good feedback from the audience, which was off course very nice. Quite a few of them commented that we don’t have to go all the way to India to see Norwegians making cultural misunderstandings. One of the participants mentioned a friend who had travelled to London. In Norwegian “half five” would mean 4.30, while in the English spoken in England it means half past five, or 5.30. So even a simple statement like that can be misunderstood.

My presentation would never have been as good as it got if I hadn’t got all the nice feedback from friends and colleagues both in India and in Norway. You all know who you are and what feedback you have given me, and I would like to thank you a lot for this.

Talk to you soon


4 thoughts on “Why is cultural competence so important when off shoring

  1. I loved reading this. I was talking to one of my Norwegian class mates in BI about the cultural difference aspect and how can it be bridged between India and Norway. So, your presentation came at the right time.

    Culture is crucial aspect of management and it has direct impact on the way we communicate. Simple things if misunderstood can ruin a project and therefore investing in this are for companies is a profitable proposition.

    When I move back to India I would probably like to start a Norwegian Language Program. What do you think about that? Would love to hear your views.


    • Hi Divye

      Thanks a lot for your comment! I do agree fully with what you say, and that is exactly what I tried to explain in my presentation yesterday.

      Languge program in Norwegian could surely be of interest for a lot of people. What about doing a mix of language/culture? My experience is that thinking (culture) is more important than language. Most people in Norway understand English, so if Indians travel to Norway they will come a long way with that language. But to get the Norwegians to UNDERSTAND the context of what they say can be more challenging. That’s why I think culture is even more important.


      • It’s so nice to see that you and I are on the same page. You hit the nail on the head. Thinking is more important and since there is a huge difference as to how people in Norway and in India both live with respect to lifestyle, certain habits and culture.

        I guess, may be there is a case for Norwegian companies who have businesses in India to invest in understanding cultural aspects and using it as an advantage in their companies. Do you think that’s realistic and possible??

        One interesting thing here I found in Oslo is when I add any one on facebook or think that I might be the only person to know a certain person I often get proved wrong. Oslo is a small city and that’s something very interesting for me coming from India which is billion plus.. And hence, now when I think why Indian companies are bureaucratic I can figure that out. To manage so many people you need a system and if you allow people to contact each other without that system of bureaucracy then companies will end up with chaos. So, that could be an explanation of why bureaucracy exists in Indian companies. I might not be exactly right but I do think that I am hitting the point but may be not perfectly.

        I was in bathroom and I had a quick thought of this language program. I should have mentioned about also teaching culture. It’s extremely important! I also think dinner table etiquettes is also one interesting aspect. It’s not something which is very important but is a money making idea if you think about it. Also, how about an idea of having a group of people both from Norway and India to share cultural and general differences. Great insights can emerge from such discussions and can be applied in business. What do you think about this proposition?

        I am not sure about the strength of Norwegian Professionals in India and Indian professionals in Norway. But that can be figured out easily, I would guess if the Norwegian and Indian embassy cooperate in handing out the data.

        Couldn’t stop my train of thoughts. But I guess that’s a very interesting discussion.


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