CQ & Business

In the era of globalisation, cultural insights into the host market are vital ingredients for business success. Joint ventures with local entrepreneurs are inevitable in the early startup and development phase. The workplace will almost certainly include colleagues of different cultural backgrounds and from diverse ways and walks of life.

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) skills are essential for enterprises with transnational commercial activities to work with staff from different cultures. It is all too easy to make false assumptions stemming from one’s cultural bias about how the ‘others’ behave in the workplace.

Internally, managers can leverage cultural intelligence to draw individual employees’ unique attributes to grow and contribute to the business results.
Externally, CQ is a valuable tool for customers who may come from different cultures; they will feel more comfortable doing business when it is conducted in a familiar mode. Applying CQ skills (and empathy) helps business interaction to be more smooth.

Doing Business with India

The Cultural Divide between Western and Indian approaches to doing business is highly underestimated. The former’s business method stems from relatively homogeneous antecedents with shared values. Indian practices reflect multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-caste societies with strong regional identities. Their lateral system of values is entirely different from the Western linear counterpart. In India, Western business faces different approaches to hierarchy, work to deadlines, decision-making, personal hyper-sensitivity, humour, conflict resolution, problem-solving, etc. Indeed, there is evidence that Western business finds it more challenging to deal professionally with Indian business than with their Chinese counterparts.

Equally, Indian managers entering, for example, the Australian market face challenges in host entrepreneurs’ behaviours, professional values, and attitudes. They discover that common factors such as the English language and love of cricket are only a façade; false assumptions based on conscious and unconscious cultural biases often lead to disruptions in the managerial domain.

The bottom line is that competitive business advantage in India accrues to foreign enterprises, which have greater cultural intelligence than their competitors of Indian professional and personal business mindset, practices and behaviour in the workplace. CQ analyses are a vital tool for achieving this objective.

How can we help you?

Rakesh Ahuja, the Founder of DownloadingMyMind, is a Certified CQ practitioner. He has conducted CQ workshops for Australian, European and Japanese clients, both private and public, since 2005. The principal focus of these clients has been to acquire CQ skills for entry into the Indian market. He proposes to focus on this aspect in light of India’s enhanced political and economic role in the Indo-Pacific region. Rakesh advises foreign entrants on cultural intelligence (intercultural)  issues relevant to operating in India and integrating their management approaches with Indian cultural values and practices. His workshops:

  • Identify the significant gaps between Western and Indian work cultures;
  • Provide insights into Indian civilisational values, which explain inter-personal and professional behaviour at the workplace;
  • Cover professional strategies required to integrate foreign and Indian approaches to the enterprise’s management eco-system;
  • Provide insights into Indian negotiating practices.
Rakesh Ahuja
16 March 2023

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