The human resources are the most essential and readily available resources. The most important part of progress of any organisation and eventually, any country, depends upon the people involved in the development of the economy. Day by day, globalisation covers new areas of life and calls for the continuous learning and adjusting to new cultural dimensions, also known as, Pop Culture. Managers are expected to display adaptation to new ways of working, cultural intelligence and to posses the ability to hook in to the latest cultural trends in the market with respect to the young human resources. This paper aims at understanding the changing cultural definitions and the importance of understanding the impact of these cross-cultural variations on the young human resources in India. Such cultural aspects need due attention at both national & industry levels to initiate suitable adjustments in (Human Resources) HR policies.
Keywords: pop culture, cross-culture, young human resources, recent trends, HR implications
In the macro sense, human resources of the country include all potential human beings, largely consisting of young population. The countries could achieve considerable development with the help of only human resources, e.g. Japan, has proven that the study of human resources should be multi-dimensional. It should include the several aspects affecting human life and ultimately human resources. Cross culture has a great impact on human development in the recent period. Technological development, especially in the field of communication has compelled HR practitioners to redesign and reshape HR policies.
In today’s world, media and internet has brought everything at the fingertips of humanity. Whatever happens in one part of the world tends to affect its counterparts in the other parts of the world too. The needs and requirements pertaining to human resources at micro-level organisational level are ever changing as today’s organization is predominantly dynamic as it poses large opportunities and challenges to the corporate practitioners and policy makers. Understanding such dynamism is very crucial to pursue the organizational strategic objectives. There have been researches in literature to explore the effect of different cultures on various human resource development programmes of an organization. Researchers claim that understanding the ever-changing cultures help to provide opportunity and broad structure for the development of human resources’ technical and behavioural skills in an organization. This makes sense because good behaviour is driven by ethical values. The cultural effects on masses may affect individuals, either to change his work behaviour positively or negatively. An organization can guide the conduct of its employees by embedding ethical values in its culture. However, organizational excellences could be varied since cultural traits could be a source of competitive advantage.
The young generation of human resources tend to flock towards the current trends in the market. This could be in the form of latest fashion, music, sports team or even the latest endorsement done by a popular social media influencer. If one regards culture as a way of defining oneself (an extremely individualist approach), a culture needs to attract the interest of people (potential members) and to persuade them to invest a part of themselves in it. People like to feel a part of a group and to understand their cultural identity within that group, which tends to happen naturally in a small, somewhat isolated community. Mass culture, however, lets people define themselves in relation to everybody else in mass society at the level of a city, a country, an international community (such as a wide-spread language, a former colonial empire, a religion) or even of a whole planet. Pop culture finds its expression in the mass circulation of items from areas such as fashion, music, sport and film. The world of pop culture had a particular influence on art from the early 1960s, through Pop Art.
The world is changing rapidly and the level of organizations is also changing due to technological advancements which have affected their human resource developments programmes. Moreover, organizations differ in their cultural content in terms of the relative ordering of beliefs, values and assumptions. Organizational culture adapts overtime to cope with the dynamic changes and meet the varying demands of the organization in its quest for gaining competitive advantage in all its activities. Therefore, a supportive culture is considered as a motivational instrument which promotes the organization to perform smoothly and ensure success in all its endeavours. Thus, the aim of this paper is to examine importance of understanding the impact of these cross-cultural variations on the young human resources in India.
Relevance of pop culture, cross-culture and human resource development (HRD)
Pop culture is an ideology, developed attitude, style of behaviour, which are firmly embedded in a person through mass media to which young population is more influenced by. Popular culture (pop culture) is broader than cross-culture. The impact of mass media resources like internet, changing fashion, sports, international music, shows, affects the original traditional culture of the community/ population, which gives birth to a different cross-culture.
The impact of pop culture and cross-culture needs to be taken care in the Human Resource Development (HRD) process, wherein an individual is considered as a resource and efforts are initiated to make them more resourceful/ productive.
With the available resources like library, internet, articles, books and so on, the study of cross-culture has been undertaken by different scholars. Most of the studies in this respect are concerned with the theoretical aspects of pop culture.
In ‘Understanding pop culture’ (2010), Media scholar John Fiske, with Henry Jenkins, explains what pop culture is. The researchers have studied the impact of cultural breakthroughs like jeans, shopping malls, tabloid newspapers, and TV game shows, which remains relevant even in the coming decades. They state that traditional culture becomes different than when it becomes popular (pop). They mainly state that pop culture becomes more embedded in the youth since it is chosen by them and not imposed on the by them society. The acceptability of pop culture is more since it reflects the popular tastes and concerns of the society at large.
In ‘Cultural Theory and Popular Culture’ (2010) John Storey has highlighted the relevance of contemporary popular culture. He states that popular culture is always defined, implicitly or explicitly, in contrast to other conceptual categories: folk culture, mass culture, dominant culture, working-class culture. The author says that various dominant cultural factors like television fiction, pop songs, novels, feature films always present a particular image of the world and has to be taken care of by the current researchers.
In the article ‘Pop culture: An Overview’, Tim Delaney presents an idea of pop culture being homogenous. He says that urbanization is a key ingredient in the formation of popular culture. Fuelled by technological growth, popular culture was greatly impacted by the emerging forms of mass media throughout the twentieth century. Films, broadcast radio and television all had a profound influence on culture. So, urbanization, globalisation, the mass media and the continuous growth in technology since the late 1900s, have all been significant factors in the formation of popular culture. These continue to be factors shaping pop culture today.
Every HR department should make sincere efforts to understand the human resources, and accordingly, to make the HR policies. The literature review reveals that the pop culture has a definite impact on human behaviour, that too because of external means of media. But it is not considered from the point of view of human resources. The HR department, at micro level and the government at macro level should take care of such influential factors affecting young population. There is a need to develop a mechanism to exploit pop culture as an opportunity to explore the potentials among individuals. The present paper will definitely fill the gap of studying pop culture aspects in the context of HRD.
Objectives of the study
The objectives of this study are as follows:
- To know pop culture and cross-culture.
- To assess the impact of pop culture on youth.
- To evaluate the approach of youth towards pop cultural aspects.
- To examine the impact of pop culture on the HR in the context of future period.
- To offer useful suggestions in the light of findings.
The information needed to proceed in this research paper has been collected through primary data via a survey among youth between the ages of 16 and 19, using a closed ended questionnaire. The secondary data was collected through books, periodicals, journals and other published material related to cross cultural impact and pop culture. A simple random sampling method is used for sample collection.
Cross cultural aspects: pop culture afffecting young human resources in india
For a better understanding of latest cross-cultural aspects, the different cultural features influencing youth either favourably or unfavourably , are analysed as under:
- Social media: Because of the advent of social media, the world has come closer; bringing with it, the exposure to different facades. Due to social media, the youth of today has accessibility to the latest trends and fashions in the world today. Indian youngsters today, know what works in the corporate world all around the globe. Right from clothing to overall attitude towards work and work culture is greatly affected due to social media. It has been observed that the social media impact has changed the youth in different dimensions, in different cases. Because of the anonymity that social media has offered, the youth has started to become averse to show emotions at the same time they have also become more emotionally connected to their social media presence. This has also affected the manners, respect, loyalty, attachments as so on. The HR department will have to consider this pop cultural aspect in framing their policies in future.
- Social media currency: Because of the omnipresent social media, the youth of today has become more inclined towards their virtual presence rather than their real presence. Their self-worth has become attached to the number of likes and comments they get on social media. The social media currency concept has hence been coined. Social media currency is a non-value currency which gives you virtual satisfaction. This may keep the large number of youngsters away from understanding the reality and truth. The business schools and HR department has a challenging task to train the children in these conditions.
- Sports: Different sports teams have an almost cult-like following of youth. They develop a sense of belongingness and team spirit because of this. Today’s youth are highly competitive in nature and tend to be more enthusiastic and adaptable towards any change. They are more prone to being cut throat as a result of a competitive streak due to sports and fandoms. Having a mixed team like IPL has made today’s youth more open and accepting towards different cultures. Even online gaming has helped today’s youth to be more trained in strategizing and being more enterprising than ever. This may result in an opportunity for HR professionals to streamline the youth energy by converting them into strategic human resources.
- Media options and fashion: Along with newspapers, radio and television, youngsters today are exposed to international music and shows, international standards, clothes, food, fashion choices etc. This has led to them being conspicuous in their daily life. The desire to be seen and noticed leads them towards being more and more productive and creative in their work. Nowadays everything has become digitized. Due to digitization, the workplace has become much more accessible and the young human resources are capable of taking complete advantage of the same. The influences that they have easily impact their aspirations and can ultimately lead them towards becoming better employees. This may explore an opportunity to the HR people to adopt and utilise the available potential in human resources.
- Openness: Because the youth in India today are exposed to a greater spectrum of people and situations, they are more acceptable towards often ignored or tabooed topics. They are open to working with people who could otherwise be ostracized. They easily stand up for the social pariahs like AIDS patients, members of LGBTQ community, mentally or physically disabled etc. These young human resources prove to be a very valuable asset for an organisation for they believe in inclusivity and preference for talent rather than any other attributes.
Business, human resources and cross-cultural impact
The above-mentioned aspects of pop culture have been developing a different blend of cultural impact on the present youth, which will be the resourceful manpower for the business units. This is a need of the 21st century, as businesses started becoming more and more adept at understanding the requirements of the time. It usually bends towards the needs and wants of the human resources that are the part of an organisation. As the future human resources, youngsters become a key aspect of the focus of an organisation. Business is not only affected by the whims and fancies of youngsters as buyers and consumers, but they also play a vital role in defining the working grounds of an organisation. These young minds are the future human resources for an organisation. As far as cross cultural factors are concerned, the youth of today is heavily influenced by not just the Indian western culture but also the popular cultures prevalent all over the world.
The predominance of pop culture in today’s society definitely has some effect. In particular, it affects the way youngsters think of themselves, how they associate with others, and how they express characteristics of their maturation. It influences how teens define themselves.
An important characteristic of every youngster’s maturation is their self-definition. Self-definition can be defined as the way you see yourself. For teens, that image is influenced to a large extent by personal choices, which are, in turn, influenced by the images and associations teens glean from pop culture on a daily basis. Although researchers disagree on exactly the extent of these influences – for example, not every youngster that listens to gangster rap self-defines as a gangster – researchers agree that pop culture has some impact on youngsters’ self-definition. Pop culture can provide benchmarks with which youngsters pin their self-definition. In this way, they see themselves take characteristics from the various celebrities and stimuli they see in pop culture. Lastly, self-definition can be intrinsically tied into self-esteem and confidence, two critical components of a healthy disposition throughout maturation and into adulthood. As human factor is one of the important components, the HR department shall have not only dynamic but also a role of an alert trainer or employer. They should focus on young population from different angles which influences youth. Such as, teens wanting to imitate rock stars. Most, if not all, pop culture icons extend their visibility beyond culture and into brands, which they sell via advertisements or products carrying their name. Youngsters who see, for example, Jay-Z wearing his Rocawear label may then be influenced to wear that label. Beyond fostering a certain degree of commercialism, these brands have associations in and of themselves that tie into self-definition or social groups within a youngster’s life. Often, celebrity brands tie into an acceptance level among youngsters, such that some youngsters feel they must own a particular brand in order to be accepted. While not necessarily harmful, these sentiments can distract youngsters from key aspects of their development.
The impact of pop culture could be summed up as an overall change in attitude of youth towards jobs and that could lead to challenging situations in the organisation. They may have a different perspective towards handling matters and have a more vibrant organisational presence.
In respect of pop culture aspects, a survey was conducted for a random sample of 50 respondents of the age group from 16 years to 19 years, using a close ended questionnaire, to analyse the tendency of Indian youth towards the cross cultural influences focusing on pop cultural elements as well as the pop culture effects on them.
- Fig 1. Important trait for youngsters
Fig 1 reveals that the maximum respondents consider adaptability as an important trait. Traditionally, the leadership was the required quality. This can be seen as an influence of openness coming out of pop culture, which makes the young population more acceptable (adaptable) towards the changing circumstances.
- Fig 2. Openness towards tabooed topics
Fig 2 explains that the maximum respondents strongly believe in working with members of the LGBTQ community. Traditionally, the LGBTQ community was considered an unmentionable topic. People were not that open towards working with social pariahs like LGBTQ members, AIDS patients etc. However, it can be now seen that today’s youngsters are more open towards being supportive towards these people. This can be seen as an influence of acceptability and normalisation that has come out of the exposure to pop culture.
- Fig 3. Social media presence
Fig 3 shows that the maximum respondents are on 4 social media platforms. Previously, social media presence was low to none. However, now that social media has become omnipresent, their influence cannot be denied. As the youngsters get more and more on different social media platforms, they tend to measure their self-worth by their social media currency. Their external locus of control becomes a critical point of consideration.
- Fig 4. Influence of social media influencers
Fig 4 indicates that the youth have a moderate approach towards the social media influencers. It can be clearly seen that social media influencers tend to impact the youngsters to a large extent. The brands endorsed by these influencers, the recommendations given by them and the ideologies propagated by them influence the behaviour of the youth.
- Fig. 5. Sports teams followed
Fig 5 confirms that the youth today follow many sports teams. This develops in them a sense of camaraderie and belongingness. Youngsters tend to be more attached to their fellow fans and develop togetherness and like mindedness which helps them to be a better team player in organisations.
- Fig 6. Preference of a mixed team over a national team
Fig 6. Strengthens the idea of the youth being more inclined towards a mixed team as opposed to a national team. This shows that the youngsters today are more accepting of various cultures rather than sticking to the traditional culture. They believe in team work and giving results together rather than being a one trick pony alone. They believe in creating a team out of the available talent pool rather than the norms and structure dictated by the management.
- Fig 7. Openness towards others’ opinions
A question was asked about the importance of having a group of friends with a variety of styles/ music/ political opinions. Fig 7. Validates the openness of today’s youth. It shows clearly, the way youngsters accept the ideas and views of people from different walks of life. Youngsters not only tend to give an open armed acceptance to various ideologies, but also are flexible in their thought processes. They can be moulded into the preferable work methodologies and thought processes and can prove to be great assets for an organisation.
- Fig 8. Competitiveness in youngsters
Fig 8. Corroborates with the idea that having competition is better than being an only player. Youth of today have an inherent competitive streak in them. They work better under pressure. Due to pop culture, youngsters face competition from various directions. They have developed themselves in such a way that makes them ready for the dog eat dog world. This competitiveness can give leverage for young individuals in the market for getting better opportunities and the HR department of an organisation needs to be ready for intermittent job hopping these youngsters may do.
- Fig 9. Factors defining professionalism for youth
Fig 9. Provides an interesting insight into the working of young minds. Traditionally, where crisp clothing and manners defined a person’s identity, other factors like adaptability was ignored to some extent. Nowadays, the youngsters not only just depend upon the traditional ideas of professionalism, but also are influenced largely by their clothing styles, attitudes and overall personality of people. They, undoubtedly, believe in talent as their major point of attraction. The HR department of an organisation needs to be aware of the changing dynamics of the human resources.
- Fig 10. Following current trends
Fig 10. Documents the agreement of youth in following the current trends in the market. It shows that youngsters of today are highly influenced by the changing trends in the fashion, music and ideas. They concept of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) has developed because of the recent developments in the world. Organisations have to be in tune with these developments and make sure that they are up to the mark.
- Fig 11. Decision making of youth
Fig. 11 interestingly depicts the impact of traditions on today’s youth. Even though the youngsters are more inclined towards pop culture, the influence of traditions cannot be denied. Cultural factors like traditions, upbringing, values and notions developed due to family and other social impactors become influencers for their day to day decisions. Other factors like social media, latest trends and following their idols also are impactful in certain proportions.
- Fig 12. Motivating factors
In this it appears that the youngsters are more attached to social media. As we know, there are favourable as well as unfavourable effects of media on all strata of population. The more attraction towards media among youngsters has been observed in figure 12 mentioned above. It is fascinating to see that the motivating factors for youngsters are equally distributed
Discussion and conclusion
The present scenario of pop culture reveals that the youth population is under great influence. The government at macro level and HR professionals at micro level are required to notice the influential factors affecting young human resources.in this study, it is observed that:
- The overall impact of young human resources following pop culture results into the changing sentiments of the current human resources too. There could be a conflict between the ideologies of the current and future workforce in an organisation for which the human resources department must be ready.
- The readiness with which the youngsters share everything on social media and get influenced easily by the latest trends is encouraging yet disturbing. The adverse impact of the same could be easily seen too. There is a constant fear of disappointment and failures. We have seen from time to time, the effects of these factors, like depression and low self esteem. Due to constant peer pressure and competition, youngsters could get distracted and involved in unpleasant activities.
- In the youth of today, adaptability and acceptance has been observed as an important trait than the traditional leadership traits.
- The youngsters are more open minded and accepting towards the often-ignored strata of the society. They are comfortable discussing the topics that could be offensive for traditionalists and have no qualms about mingling with the part of the society that is shunned from having a normal life. They accept different opinions and views in a more open armed manner than extremists who might believe that traditional values are more important than embracing change.
- The impact of social media and social media influencers was clearly noticeable in the analysis done. Today’s young population is highly attracted towards the virtual world like a moth to a flame. The effects of having such an obsessive amount of social media presence has affected the self-worth of youngsters and in turn has made the HR department of every organisation rethink its motivational strategies for the upcoming human resources.
- Youngsters nowadays believe in team work and a mixed pool of talent as opposed to following the rules laid down by the organisation or the society as a whole. This slightly rebellious nature of youngsters, if tapped correctly, can be used an advantage for the organisation.
- Previously when the uniqueness of a person was based on his ideologies, now youngsters are more inclined towards following the current trends, fashion and fads prevalent in the world. They believe that along with clothing, talent, attitude and adaptability are equally operative factors for gauging a person. The HR of any organisation needs to be highly alert about these subtle, but constant changes happening in the human resources all around the world.
- The young talent has a lot of potential to become an asset for an organisation. Their influencing factors are not just pop culture to a large extent, but also traditional factors governing their daily decisions. Organisations will have to consider this interesting mix of value systems while trying to manage their human resources.
In conclusion, it can be said that even though India has been a huge propagator of its culture, the impact of pop culture and its influence cannot be denied. The youth of today is the working human resources of tomorrow. Indian organisations have to be more accepting and open minded about the different cross-cultural impacts that is about to influence a large work force.
Limitations & scope of future research
This study is based on primary data as well as secondary data. The primary data is collected through random sampling with 50 samples only. Whereas, the secondary data was made available through books, magazines, and internet. There are limitations to the measurement criteria to evaluate an exact impact of pop culture. The researchers, practitioners, and academicians may undertake a detailed study of different mix cultural and pop cultural aspects impacting human resources. Similarly, HRD ministry and business schools shall have ample scope to undertake research in the study of media effects on youth.
- JOHN STOREY, CULTURAL THEORY AND POPULAR CULTURE:AN INTRODUCTION, fifth edition, published by Pearson Longman
- K. ASHWATHAPPA, HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT, TATA MCGRAW HILLS PUBLISHING COMPANY LIMITED, NEW DELHI
- MELANIE DENEAU, MANAGING MULTICULTURAL TEAMS,