Cross-Culture Analysis on "Outsourced"

Topics: Motivation, Geert Hofstede, Collectivism Pages: 7 (2478 words) Published: April 22, 2010
Due to Western Novelty’s Outsourcing scheme, Todd Anderson is sent to India. Upon arrival, Todd has completely no idea of what territory he is stepping into. With the lack of awareness of the Indian culture, he first falls victim to a taxi driver’s trickery, has to literally “hop” on a train and although he is offered a seat on the “can-packed” train carriage by a boy, but in return he has to offer up his lap for the boy to sit on. On first sight, Todd experienced a culture shock from the manifest culture of India (Sathe, 1985) that attacked his own “core” and starts to form judgments about this seemingly dirty and primitive country.

The initial contact with a new culture gives rise to cultural differences and Todd finds himself struggling with them. This is the result of the differences in cultural dimensions. The first dimension contrasting India and Todd, would be Collectivism versus Individualism. Individualism refers to how much a person is self-centered and free from control; Collectivism refers to how the overall group’s interest is placed above an individual. (Hofstede, 1980) Using scores from the GLOBE project, India scores a high 5.92, much higher than the USA’s score of 4.25 on the collectivistic scale where higher refers to more collectivistic. (House et al. 2004) Todd, originating from the US, is characterized as an employee who only has to worry about himself, does not involve himself with other employees. In the first scene, employees from the US have a very big private space to themselves and the boss Dave has an even more private enclosure. The office space reflects the culture of individualism from the US. However, in India, we see that employees interact with each other more frequently, such as Asha helping out with employees and smaller desks for closer working conditions. Even the supervisor’s desk lacked privacy due to the missing glass, which Todd makes a big fuss about and showed closeness between the employer and employees. It is apparent that the employees in India have a more collectivistic corporate culture and this affected Todd’s individualistic values and beliefs. However, later in the film, Todd’s individualistic personality slowly evolves into a collectivistic one as he immerses himself into India’s culture and changed his leadership style. This showed during the incident when there was flooding, Todd and the staff members worked together as a team and Todd even asked his neighbour to help with the power connections to benefit the group’s goal. What Todd went through during his immersion in India’s culture is called Primary Socialization (Berger & Luckman, 1967) where he learned India’s culture through living with Puro’s Aunt and socializing with the locals. Without the change in Todd from an individualist to a collectivist, the business could not have been as motivated or productive or achieved its goal.

Power distance is the extent to which power is unequally distributed in a collective. A higher power distance score reflects high unequal distribution of power. From the GLOBE scores India has a higher power distance than the US (India = 5.47; US = 4.88) (House et al. 2004). In the movie, the Indian employees show a high power distance because they treat their superiors with respect. This could be seen in the actions of Puro. When he was reprimanded for the first time, he did not end up in an extreme debate with Todd regarding the high level of the MPI. On the second incident, when he was scolded, he was very apologetic and was thoughtful to bring clean food for Todd. This showed Puro’s deep reverence for the leader of the office. Another example was how the employees did not ask about better working conditions and accepted whatever Todd had dictated on them from the start until much later. However, when compared with the way Todd talks to Dave, the barrier between him and the superior is thin. Todd can express his thoughts and freely rebut Dave with his own opinions – such as...

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House, R.J., Hanges, P.J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P.W., and Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, Leadership, and Organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Sage Publications: London.
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