This report is based upon the movie “Outsourced”. The movie is about an American Company, outsourcing one department to India. The manager of the department, Mr.Todd has to go to India and manage the regional call center and train his Indian replacement. The Indian business cultures Mr.Todd sees and felt uncomfortable are described in this report. Moreover, the scenes where he faced culture shock and the difficulties he faced during his stay in India are also described. Furthermore, the things he should have done to properly manage the call center is explained.
Culture is a system of values and beliefs which we share with others. The elements included in culture are history, religion, language, traditions, food, behavior, values, beliefs and customs. It is taught early on in life but is continuously developing.
‘Culture encompasses religion, food, what we wear, how we wear it, our language, marriage, music, what we believe is right or wrong, how we sit at the table, how we greet visitors, how we behave with loved ones, and a million other things,’ Cristina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate College in London, told Live Science. (Zimmermann, www.livescience.com, 2017)
Understanding the basic norms and values of culture is important to do business in another country. This is called the cross-culture communication. The concept of cross-culture is becoming very important with the globalization of the businesses. To do cross-culture business, training should be given to employees on how to communicate and interact effectively with those from other cultures. Without the basic knowledge of culture and preparations employees will easily experience culture shock which is the main factor in the failure of a business.
Indian business culture the actor is not aware about
The actor in the movie “Outsourced” Mr. Todd is an American who has to go to India to manage the regional call center as his department is outsourced. Todd never visited India and is not aware of their business cultures. The most important business culture in India is respecting elders and hierarchy. It’s the core values that permeate all aspects of Indian society. When Todd entered the train in India, it was overcrowded and no seat was available. However, a small child stands up and gives him the seat to sit. Todd was surprised to see this.
The second business culture identified in the movie was the way they greet and the titles. A handshake is the standard way to greet people in India. The first time Puro (future Manager of the Call Center) meets Todd he shakes hand with him and introduces him by telling his full name. Moreover, Puro’s Auntijy welcomes him with the word “Namaste” (the word used to greet people in India). Furthermore, whenever they use Todd’s name, the title is included in the name. For example Mr.Todd.
In business culture of India, business meetings shouldn’t be started by getting straight to the heart of negotiation. Taking a short time to ask personal questions is important. In this movie, Auntyjy started the conversation with Todd by asking his personal questions, like, is he married or single, etc. Todd feels uncomfortable when she asked about his personal life. In America, people often respect individual freedom of others and don’t ask personal questions at their first meeting.
In India, the left hand is considered unclean and should never be used to eat, handshake or accepting anything. While Auntyji offered him food, Todd used his left hand to eat and placed the hand back at food which was put in the mouth. The people in the house were very uncomfortable to see this behavior of him. Puro explained this culture to Todd as soon as the incident happened.
Indians are generally expressive and use body languages to convey the message that are not said in verbal. In some scenes, it was identified that Puro used body language to express thank you. Moreover, it was identified that they nod head or take a little bow to greet and to agree on something.
In the office, men wear suits with a tie, whereas women wear suits with a blouse. However, it was identified that on special occasions like Holi, they were not wearing an official dress in the office. Some were wearing kurtas and t-shirts. Puro (the future manager) gave Todd a kurta and he was also wearing it on that day.
Indians are very sensitive to rudeness and they considered “NO” as a very harsh word. Due to the culture shock reactions, Todd was feeling very angry and was aggressive. He scolded to Puro when he didn’t see him around the office. At that time Puro went to get him food as he was not feeling well. Later Todd apologizes to him when he saw that Puro was sad. Moreover, back at the guest house when Auntijy offered him food, Todd refused to eat it. Auntijy was shocked and sad to hear it.
Culture shock is the feeling of uncertainty, confusion, or anxiety that people experience when visiting, doing business in, or living in a society that is different from their own. Culture shock can arise from an individual’s unfamiliarity with local customs, language, and acceptable behavior. (Segal, 2019)
During the stay in India, Todd experienced lots of culture shocks. The first culture shock was the time Todd saw the huge number of people in the terminal to receive people and the loud noise inside the terminal. After getting out of the terminal Todd was again shocked due to taxi drivers arguing around him to give him a lift (scene 3:40 to 4:40). As this has never happened in his country, he was completely shocked. While he was in a taxi to his guesthouse, he was shocked to see a cow moving around freely in the road. Moreover, one man was urinating on one side of the road (scene 9:48 to 10:11).
Todd heard a noise across the wall and climbed up the wall and saw a city of poor people. Todd was shocked to see that the men of that city were doing laundry works without using any machines (16:52 to 17:16. After going to the office on the first day, Todd saw a cow inside the office. Hence, no one was concerned about it in the office (scene 19:00 to 19:36).
Todd was shocked to see a woman bringing food from home and sending it across the wall for the poor people (scene 25:02 to 25:30). By seeing it, Todd felt like helping them and later he sent foods to them. On the day of Holi, Todd was very much shocked to see all the people running and splashing colors to any person they see (scene 38:20 to 39:25). Holi is the festival of celebration of colors and this day was not celebrated in America.
Furthermore, Todd was shocked to see that his underwear was ironed and folded (scene 52:57 to 53:10). In his country, he never does it and has never seen anyone doing it. In the scene with Asha, Todd was shocked to know that she was engaged to someone when she was four years old. Moreover, Asha has never met the person that she was engaged (scene 1:09:30 to 1:10:15). Todd was so concerned to know about the thing that was pasted on Asha’s forehead. When he asked about it, he was shocked to hear that it was the third eye for the woman in India. They believe that it is the eye that they see the most important things (scene 1:27:00 to 1:27:17).
The main difficulties the actor faced
As everything in India is new and different from his country, Todd faced a lot of difficulties while he stayed in India. He met difficulties in language, transportation, food, lifestyle, attitude and so on. After arriving to India, he missed his pick up driver due to the mispronunciation of his name in the board that the driver was holding. Hence, he tried to take a taxi to go to the train station. However, the cab driver took Todd’s luggage and put it in an old riskshaw. Todd felt very uncomfortable to travel in it as he never had travel in it before. When he was at the station, he had to run to catch the train. He had to throw his luggage on to the train and jump up the train.
At the beginning, the food was not easy for Todd to eat. He suffered from a cramp when he eats “gola” from a street vendor. Moreover, due to language differences, he had to drink coffee with a lot of sugars. In America, he usually drinks with a few amounts of sugar. Americans like fast foods like cheeseburgers, submarines, etc. From a newspaper, Todd saw a restaurant that sells burgers and he took a long drive to eat a cheeseburger. However, after reaching the restaurant Todd realized that they do not sell cheeseburgers with beef as in America. They sell burgers with vegetables. Todd was very angry about it.
Todd was very uncomfortable when Puro takes him to Auntijy’s guest house instead of the hotel he had got to stay. Todd is a very independent man and lives separately from his family in America. Moreover, he was very unsatisfied when he had to use a shared toilet. Furthermore, Todd was completely embarrassed when he realized that he has to use his hand to make hygiene as there were no toilet papers. Also, he had to use a squat toilet. Todd was not comfortable with the bedroom he stayed in. He couldn’t sleep well. There was a picture of the Indian goddess displayed on the wall of the room. He felt like it was staring at him all the time. Therefore, he tried to remove it from the wall and couldn’t get it off.
In the call center, Todd feels very angry and disappointed as he thinks that the Indians are crazy and they don’t know how to work. Therefore, he acts in a very rude manner to staff at the beginning. Moreover, he does not like it when they call him “Toad” instead of Todd. Moreover, it was very difficult for him to pronounce some of the Indian staff names. For example, “Manmeet”. Due to communication differences, Todd feels embarrassed when the staff uses different names for some items when giving service to customers. In India, they call rubber to erasers. Whereas in America rubber is the name used for the condom.
Todd feels very uncomfortable and angry when the boy he met in street tries to come close to him and hugs him. He doesn’t like it when strangers touch him as he wants his personal space. Americans usually maintain quite a large distance space between each other. Moreover, he becomes more frustrated when the boy steals his mobile phone and runs away. He had to use a STD phone to make calls to his girlfriend. All of these differences and difficulties make him fatigue, discourage and disorient.
Things actor should have done to manage properly
Before coming to India, he should have done a research and find information regarding Indian culture. When doing business in another country it is very important to know and understand the new culture and adjust to adapt to the new cultures, customs and habits. Todd should have tried to learn a little of the Indian language and adapt to its social norms. Failure to effectively communicate with others or understand their actions can lead to problems. He should have taken a culture training course before arriving in India. It will get easier for him to understand the cultural differences between the two countries. Moreover, it will help him to learn to accept the culture and to change his negative attitude to a positive one. After coming to India, he should have changed his attitude, behavior and have tolerance for uncertainty. Furthermore, he should have socialized with the locals and ask for advice and help.
It was concluded that culture plays an important role in doing a business in another country. Therefore, it is very important to learn about their culture and take necessary culture training before going to another country for a long time. Without knowing or understanding another culture will lead you to culture shocks, which is the main factor in the failure of a business.