If we explore the Indian culture through the lens of the 6-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Indian culture relative to other world cultures.
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power Distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
India scores high on this dimension, 77, indicating an appreciation for hierarchy and a top-down structure in society and organizations. If one were to encapsulate the Indian attitude, one could use the following words and phrases : dependent on the boss or the power holder for direction, acceptance of un-equal rights between the power-privileged and those who are lesser down in the pecking order, immediate superiors accessible but one layer above less so, paternalistic leader, management directs, gives reason / meaning to ones work life and rewards in exchange for loyalty from employees. Real Power is centralized even though it may not appear to be and managers count on the obedience of their team members. Employees expect to be directed clearly as to their functions and what is expected of them. Control is familiar, even a psychological security, and attitude towards managers are formal even if one is on first name basis. Communication is top down and directive in its style and often feedback which is negative is never offered up the ladder.
The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.
India, with a rather intermediate score of 48, is a society with both collectivistic and Individualist traits. The collectivist side means that there is a high preference for belonging to a larger social framework in which individuals are expected to act in accordance to the greater good of one’s defined in-group(s). In such situations, the actions of the individual are influenced by various concepts such as the opinion of one’s family, extended family, neighbours, work group and other such wider social networks that one has some affiliation toward. For a collectivist, to be rejected by one’s peers or to be thought lowly of by one’s extended and immediate in-groups, leaves him or her rudderless and with a sense of intense emptiness. The employer/employee relationship is one of expectations based on expectations – Loyalty by the employee and almost familial protection by the Employer. Hiring and promotion decisions are often made based on relationships which are the key to everything in a Collectivist society.
The Individualist aspect of Indian society is seen as a result of its dominant religion/philosophy – Hinduism. The Hindus believe in a cycle of death and rebirth, with the manner of each rebirth being dependent upon how the individual lived the preceding life. People are, therefore, individually responsible for the way they lead their lives and the impact it will have upon their rebirth. This focus on individualism interacts with the otherwise collectivist tendencies of the Indian society which leads to its intermediate score on this dimension.
A high score (Masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational life.
A low score (Feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A Feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what you do (Feminine).
India scores 56 on this dimension and is thus considered a Masculine society. India is actually very Masculine in terms of visual display of success and power. The designer brand label, the flash and ostentation that goes with advertising one’s success, is widely practiced. However, India is also a spiritual country with millions of deities and various religious philosophies. It is also an ancient country with one of the longest surviving cultures which gives it ample lessons in the value of humility and abstinence. This often reigns in people from indulging in Masculine displays to the extent that they might be naturally inclined to. In more Masculine countries the focus is on success and achievements, validated by material gains. Work is the center of one’s life and visible symbols of success in the work place are ery important.
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the score on Uncertainty Avoidance.
India scores 40 on this dimension and thus has a medium low preference for avoiding uncertainty. In India, there is acceptance of imperfection; nothing has to be perfect nor has to go exactly as planned. India is traditionally a patient country where tolerance for the unexpected is high ; even welcomed as a break from monotony. People generally do not feel driven and compelled to take action-initiatives and comfortably settle into established rolls and routines without questioning. Rules are often in place just to be circumvented and one relies on innovative methods to “bypass the system”. A word used often is “adjust” and means a wide range of things, from turning a blind eye to rules being flouted to finding a unique and inventive solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem. It is this attitude that is both the cause of misery as well as the most empowering aspect of the country. There is a saying that “nothing is impossible” in India, so long as one knows how to “adjust”.
Long Term Orientation
This dimension describes how every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future, and societies prioritise these two existential goals differently. Normative societies. which score low on this dimension, for example, prefer to maintain time-honoured traditions and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. Those with a culture which scores high, on the other hand, take a more pragmatic approach: they encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future.
With an intermediate score of 51 in this dimension, a dominant preference in Indian culture cannot be determined. In India the concept of “karma” dominates religious and philosophical thought. Time is not linear, and thus is not as important as to western societies which typically score low on this dimension. Countries like India have a great tolerance for religious views from all over the world. Hinduism is often considered a philosophy more than even a religion; an amalgamation of ideas, views, practices and esoteric beliefs. In India there is an acceptance that there are many truths and often depends on the seeker. Societies that have a high score on pragmatism typically forgive a lack of punctuality, a changing game-plan based on changing reality and a general comfort with discovering the fated path as one goes along rather than playing to an exact plan.
One challenge that confronts humanity, now and in the past, is the degree to which small children are socialized. Without socialization we do not become “human”. This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised. Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and relatively strong control is called “Restraint”. Cultures can, therefore, be described as Indulgent or Restrained.
India receives a low score of 26 in this dimension, meaning that it is a culture of Restraint. Societies with a low score in this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Also, in contrast to Indulgent societies, Restrained societies do not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires. People with this orientation have the perception that their actions are Restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat wrong.