One of the cultural issues our group is very concerned with is caste. Because it is a discrete factor affecting personal relations in India, we are worried that it may have a strong effect on the NGOs that companies are picking to work with that we simply would not be able to see or understand. From our research and understanding, it seems that caste has a profound effect on Indian society but it is hard for outsiders to measure its effects because it is a complicated and discrete system. I think India is probably generally effected by the cultural norm of ‘keeping things in the family’, which would be difficult for us to measure and inquire about.
On the flip side, it could be beneficial for caste to have an effect on business relations with NGOs. Perhaps familial relations between corporations and NGOs ensure greater progress for NGOs because businesses have more of a personal stake with the NGO. Either way, if this is a factor in the relationships behind the law we are studying, it will probably be difficult for us to get a thorough understanding of the way it effects these relationships.
The caste system is extremely different from the values that dictate American culture. Although there are undeniably benefits from coming from a well off family that are heavily institutionalized in the United States, the culture in American society has a lot of pride in ‘working for what you earn’ and ‘working your way up the ladder’. It is considered very noble in American society to come from an unfortunate situation and work your way into some wealth. These notions have probably deeply worked their way into our groups reasoning skills, as we have grown up in the United States, so values that may come as common sense to us may not exist in Indian culture.
I think that another implication of the caste system that affects cultural differences is the emphasis on family versus the individual. In the United States, there is a strong belief in individual freedom and bringing honor to your own name. In Eastern societies, the focus shifts to living life in order to bring honor to your family. Although we may not run into any issues regarding these beliefs, the nature of our project includes measuring the progress of social welfare, so these inherent biases may come out through a different understanding of social welfare than Indians.
Another issue that we discussed is the poor infrastructure of roads and transportation throughout much of India. Mumbai is highly developed, but the issue may also affect who corporations are lending their money or the strength of their relationships with their chosen NGOs in ways that we may not be able to fully understand initially. Transporting resources may be riskier and more problematic with weak government infrastructure. The lack of government interference into social welfare in India is something we will need to deepen our understanding of as a group in order to understand the holes that need to be filled by Indian NGOs. However the weaker infrastructure and government services affects these companies, it will be something that would not come as common sense to Americans and that we will have to remember to remind ourselves is a factor that plays into these relationships.
Asian business relationships also operate very differently than American business relationships. Americans are quick to come to decisions and make deals because of an emphasis on speed and innovation and an intense focus on spending time wisely. Asian marketplaces work differently because it takes time to build trust. This could affect the way we are treated by the companies we are studying, or it could be a major factor that affects the success of the relationships between corporations and NGOs. It will be important for us to keep this in mind when we are studying these relationships.
Another business factor we will have to consider is whether or not work with NGOs can be used as marketing material in India. Perhaps this law has detracted from work with NGOs affecting consumers perceptions of the company. It could also be the case that publicizing CSR never had much of an effect on consumer preference in Indian culture. We will need to make sure we try to measure this before we begin work with them. If promoting these relationships can aid the marketing for these corporations, that will be a major incentive for them to give us their best in working with them.