The collision of transaction culture with relationship culture shows how NOT to succeed in India

It is a frustrating pattern. The eager business team arrives in India on their first trade mission, they race from meeting to meeting and sign lots of MOU’s (Memorandum of Understanding) and appoint agents. The three day trip has been a roaring success!

Then, nothing happens.

What is going on here? The collision of “transaction” culture (the west) and “relationship” culture (India) has taken place yet again, with predictable outcomes.

From the Indian side, a high sense of courtesy and a culture that cannot say “no” means the visitor feels great progress is being achieved – while the Indian is also positive, feeling that a valued relationship might develop. Classic misunderstanding.

What is the alternative? Take a long view of India – at least three years – and wait for genuine relationships to develop. Go to India many times, not just once or twice. Put quick transactions aside and build trust. Learn how to relate to a culture that thinks differently.

Given that around 600 million Indians are under the age of 25, the future is bright and you should be there. Just go about it the right way next time.

Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

One thought on “The collision of transaction culture with relationship culture shows how NOT to succeed in India”

  1. Well said

    We have been back + forth numerous times and we are still learning!!!!!!!!

    Peter Pryn
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