Opinionated!: Hofstede model for India

Hofstede model, although static, captures the rapidly evolving and diverse nature of India.

Power Distance – 77

India scores high on this dimension, indicating an appreciation for hierarchy and a top-down structure in society and organizations.

This is closer to the reality for my parent’s generation, but not entirely true for Indians in their early to mid-twenties, especially in metropolitan cities.  The reason for a high power distance in India is because of a traditionally patriarchal society where the most senior member (generally, a male) of the family takes decisions, which are almost binding for other members.  The position is primarily because of the age and bread-winning capacity of the person, than due to any other leadership attributes.  This transcends to organizations as well.  However, the younger generation feels less compelled to follow directions unless they are convinced with the idea.  People have started to question authorities, and seek and suggest alternative solutions.  People question why certain people in society have more power than others, and how to bring equality.

Individualism – 48 

India is a society with clear collectivistic traits. This 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).

I would agree that India is a collectivist society where people feel it is important to take decisions after building a consensus and after assessing the impact of one’s decisions on all the ‘stakeholders’ involved – from family and friends to extended family and (sometimes) the society at large.

Masculinity / Feminity – 56

India is considered a masculine society. Even though it is mildly above the mid-range in score, India is actually very masculine in terms of visual display of success and power. However, India is also an ancient country with one of the longest surviving cultures which gives it ample lessons in the value of humility and abstinence.

Completely true for exactly the listed reasons – people with power love to display it, but only where necessary.  People appreciate, due to religious beliefs or societal norms, that power or success is attributable to destiny.  With so many smart and hard-working people around, you want to enjoy the success you achieve but at the same time be mindful that it is transient.

Uncertainty avoidance – 40

India has a medium low preference for avoiding uncertainty. India is traditionally a patient country where tolerance for the unexpected is high ; even welcomed as a break from monotony.

At a deep cultural core, most Indians believe there is nothing rigid about life.  Everything is manageable, solvable – everything has a work-around.  It demonstrates that systems established in India may claim to block elephants but there are always enough narrow gaps to let a rat through.  This encourages entrepreneurs and leads to a lot of disruptive innovation at the bottom of the pyramid.

Long term orientation – 61 

Indian culture is a long term, pragmatic culture. In India the concept of “karma” dominates religious and philosophical thought.  Indian culture typically forgives lack of punctuality, a changing game-plan based on changing reality and has a general comfort with discovering the fated path as one goes along rather than playing to an exact plan.

Given that we Indians believe in re-birth, most of the actions we take are less for instant gratification and more for the long-term good of oneself and society.  People believe that the actions they take in this birth will have ramifications in their next.  So that may prevent people from having a short-term orientation. 


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