“There’s a tendency in India for employees to tell you what they think you want to hear. You sometimes hear “yes” to a question before you’ve even explained it,” says Professor Michael Morris.
Michael Morris is the Chavkin-Chang Professor of Leadership in the Management Division and a senior scholar at the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business at Columbia Business School.
Do you agree to Professor Morris’s statement?
I’m with him. 100%.
I took a step back to think about my actions in past situations. After reading his article on UnFollow the Leader at Columbia Business School Blog, its clear that cultural different plays a major role in reacting to orders.
Cultural patterns of behavior can arise from internal beliefs; that is, Indians may defer out of a belief that authorities actually do know best. Or, patterns can arise from perceived social norms; Indians may defer because they believe that their fellow Indians expect this behavior.
This role of external expectations in our behavior may seem at first counter-intuitive, yet upon reflection we can recognize that many of our daily behaviors (putting on a tie for work, driving on the right side of the street, reading the morning paper) are adopted to mesh with the expectations of others, rather than out of personal commitments about these matters.
Over the years I’m exposed to American Culture. I think differently with mix of American and Indian Culture.
That’s one of the advantages of getting education from a foreign country. You tend to see things differently. But, at times, I have made decisions in the way, what others would have liked.
Professor Morris conducted an experiment to test his theory along with post doctoral scholar Krishna Savani and N.V.R. Naidu of the M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology in Karnataka.
Conclusion of their research
Morris says the findings have implications for both Indian managers striving to lead innovative startups and Western managers leading the Indian divisions of global firms.
Instead of trying to convince Indian employees of the importance of dissent and innovation, targeting their personal beliefs and values, innovation leaders would do better to target their perceptions of the social norm in their community.
Interesting experiment right?
What do you think about this research about Indian Culture impeding innovation?
- Do you behave differently when you have a boss or an authority figure directing your work?
- Do you speak-up and challenge decision in meetings at work?
- If you were to work without a manager, can you be innovative?