Intercultural Competency Strategies

India is a growing business market. The country’s large population and increasing middle class provides a large market for business owners to sell their products and services. Consequently, the market offers consumer goods, infrastructural development, legal and financial services. However, there are a number of important considerations to make before an individual or company ventures into the Indian market. Therefore, in this paper, these important considerations are summarized.

India is regarded as one of the most diverse countries in the world, thus, prospective investors must treat with caution all generalizations about Indian culture. Before entering into any negotiation with an Indian, it is important to research the client or partner thoroughly. For instance, check whether the client to meet has a traditional, family-run or a modern hi-tech business operation (Business Insider Inc., 2016). Indian families scarcely afford to retreat completely to the background leaving the business to professional partners. The families often seek different kind of roles that do not compromise strategic operation or operational performance of the business, but still retain influence. For instance, the families can review financial performance, checking ethical and law abiding behaviors, validating visions and missions, as well as control over financial plans have always been under the control of the families. Therefore, a potential investor in a family owned business must be ready to work closely together with the family in executing business objectives. A foreign investor must not enter into a business deal with the notion of controlling all the aspects of the business operations.

India, unlike most other countries of the world, places value on hierarchies and inter-personal relationships. Any corporation seeking business opportunities in India must understand and respect explicit and implicit hierarchies and their impacts on team organization. During business deliberations, ranks, status and positions that individuals hold in an organization matters. Meetings and discussions are led by senior business executives while supervisors monitor work (Business Insider Inc., 2016). Since most of the decisions are made at the top of an organization, a potential investor should not waste of time and resources negotiating middle level employees.Indians believe that top executives have the charisma and visions to prosper the businesses, therefore, they can only make the right decisions to accept or reject business proposals.  As a collectivist society, Indians work well in teams. Therefore as a good leader, conflicts should be avoided, but be ready to make compromises (Laura, Enrique & Diego, 2011). A good leader should also be willing to establish a firm relationship with colleagues in order to integrate well. The preferred communication style is the indirect approach. An individual must learn to interpret non-verbal signs.

Indians have high regards for those concerned with the welfare of others at home as well as in the workplace. Therefore, it is important not to push things quickly during the initial stages of interactions (Business Insider Inc., 2016). Indian families consider men as breadwinners while women are homemakers. Women in business have become commonplace because of the importance placed on education, but their traditional roles are still expected. Therefore, a potential investor should be ready to show respect for and be ready to include Indian women in negotiating business deals.

Conservative behavior is upheld among Indians. Therefore, anyone going for a business meeting in India must know that it is considered rude to show physical affection in public, and illegal in some places. In fact, the Indian Penal Code states that anyone who annoys others through obscene act in public can be imprisoned, fined or be liable for both. In India, touch is perceived as interlinked with sex. Mouth-to-mouth kissing is considered a western concept, thus, should not be done in public. Two men holding hands in public is acceptable because it is considered friendship. Hugging, though a new concept where hands are folded and heads are bowed, is acceptable (Business Insider Inc., 2016). Similarly, when meeting business colleagues for the first time; it is important to wait for the woman to extend her hands first. Indian businessmen find it wrong for a man to initiate greeting to a woman. In the workplace, women are required to dress conservatively or wear well-tailored pantsuits. On the other hand, men are supposed to wear suits and ties. People appreciate bright colors and shirts in warm shades usually demonstrate personality to the host.

The concept of karma is important in India’s spirituality (Business Insider Inc., 2016). Hindu religion views human beings as not being able to have control over their lives. This has a significant influence on the concept of time. Thus, negotiations may last longer than anticipated and substantial amount of time is taken to know a business partner and build relationship. In most cases, meetings fail to start on time as attendees may arrive late. However, a foreign partner needs to be punctual to show that as a leader, he/she has time management skills. Appointments have to be made one month before meeting and confirmation has to be made upon arrival. Effectiveness is enhanced through an indirect communication strategy (Vissa, Greve & Chen, 2010). During meetings, partners should be flexible and be ready to give leeway because being rigid diminishes credibility.  


  • Indian families value business ownership, therefore, when negotiating a business deal, ensure that the family is assured of retaining substantial share of business.
  • Do not bother to negotiate business deals with low cadre employees when the top management has rejected a business proposal. In Indian led-companies, the decisions made by top leadership are not easily changed by low ranking officials.
  • When negotiating a business deal with Indian families, strictly respect their cultural beliefs such as dressing properly when going to negotiate a business deal and respect for their women. Good leaders respect and accommodate values and beliefs of other people.


Business Insider Inc. (2016). 12 essential trips for doing business in India. Retrieved             from< business-in-india-2012-1

Laura, R., Enrique, C., & Diego, Q., (2011). Doing business in India: a review of research in leading international journals. Journal of Indian Business Research, 3 (3),192 – 216.

Vissa, B., Greve, H.R., & Chen, W-R., (2010). Business Group Affiliation and Firm Search Behavior in India: Responsiveness and Focus of Attention. Organization Science, 21 (3), 696-712.