Preview SAGE’s Newest Business Offering: SAGE Business Researcher

This month SAGE launched a new online library product for business students and practitioners: SAGE Business Researcher. More thorough than a newspaper article and more timely than a scholarly journal, SAGE Business Researcher publishes bi-weekly reports written by experienced journalists on the most pressing issues in business and management.

The following is excerpted from the issue “Doing Business in India.”

Cultural Differences Confront Foreigners
By Madhusmita Bora

“You will always be offered at least a cup of tea”

In a country as diverse and as big as India, navigating bureaucracy, red tape and infrastructure hurdles aren’t the only challenges foreign investors and businesses face. To thrive in the country, outsiders must acquaint themselves with India’s cultural quirks.


Unlike in the West, getting down to business right away is not the Indian way. Indians take pride in their hospitality. In business dealings, it’s best to reciprocate the goodwill.

“You will always be offered at least a cup of tea before a discussion or a meeting takes place,” Kugelman says. “My advice is to take up the offer.”

A cup of tea often serves as the best icebreaker, he adds. Somewhere down the line you will most certainly get invited to homes of colleagues for a meal with the family; fostering such personal interaction can be key to long-lasting business relationships.

Stretchable Time

One of India’s quirks is the notion of time. The day always starts late.

Ranjini Manian—author of “Doing Business in India for Dummies”—says Indian employees are hardworking, but they don’t necessarily show up at work on time and are not efficient with time management. “You have to come to terms with India’s flexible working hours,” she says. “Unlike the West, there’s no rush or hurry to get things done. We are human ‘beings,’ not human ‘doings.’”

But, despite the late arrivals, work always gets done, Manian says.

Workplace Hierarchy

Indians maintain a strong sense of hierarchy at the workplace, just as they do at home.
The top bosses are often looked upon as father figures. Most Indian employees require hand-holding and cajoling when on the job. Emotion is a huge factor in business, Manian says.

Bosses in India are viewed more as benevolent dictators looking out for their employees and teams than as colleagues, Manian says. She says it is important for managers to set goals, remove hurdles through discussions and take an interest in employees inside and outside of work in order to get the best out of them.

Practice Patience

Most Westerners expect immediate feedback in business dealings and negotiations and find that they often get frustrated dealing with their Indian counterparts, wrote Eugene M. Makar in his book “An American’s Guide to Doing Business in India.”

“Be patient,” Makar counseled. “Traditional Indians are reluctant to say no and can be polite and courteous to a fault.”

Sign up to trial SAGE Business Researcher!

This entry was posted in Business, Creativity and Innovation, Cultural Research, Free Trial, Qualitative Research, Quantitative Research, Research and Publishing, Scholarship and tagged , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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