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Does the inherent attitudes of Indians fancying power and pride impressed into their work environment and impacting their business structure too? How different are we from our global competitors?

The corporate business structure in India is strongly reflective of Indian culture and society, dominantly hierarchical. Everybody in their positions of power takes great deal of pride in them and finds it almost repulsive to take inputs from their subordinates. Emotions drive operations and decision making, consequently empowerment is understood as authority rather than acceptance of accountability. There are very clear lines and bifurcations in the business structure between each role and division, which more often than not lead to silos formation in the organization. Each individual clearly understands his role and responsibility and strictly adheres to it. On the positive front, the responsibility allotted is fulfilled and this ensures a smooth functioning of the organization. There is a clear structure; everybody knows what they have to do and how they have to do it. Everything is hunky-dory except for the fact that there is no room left for innovation and learning beyond walls and boxes in such strict hierarchical structure.

The very usual way in which any business structure works in India is that there is an individual with whom lies all the authority unquestionably and he instructs everybody under him. The work is allocated in a unidirectional way and it is assumed that the individual is indubitably correct in his approach. In larger enterprises, the very same approach is incorporated in a hierarchical structure. While there are considerable numbers of benefits of such a structure the pitfalls are hard to ignore and disregard. This traditional architecture is a major impediment to innovation and out of the box solutions.

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However, things are not as bad as they sound. Increasing number of CEOs are realizing this need to incorporating ideas and talents of employees into their decision making process. 2008 IBM Global CEO study reflected that there is a significant shift in the mindset of top management in India. The study revealed that for Indian CEOs the availability of talent and people skills in their workforce is the most important factor that they consider can stifle corporate growth. As Adi Godrej, chairman of the Godrej Group, remarked: “In India Inc, we have a bit of a (rigid) hierarchical structure that needs to be changed”.

Indian born companies, usually risk-averse and family run, must learn from the India-based MNCs. Many MNCs have been trying to implement a flat organizational structure for their Indian subsidiaries, which again is having a positive impact on the overall mindset of Indian top management. For instance, Nokia India, known for its employee driven approach, puts the ideas and inputs of their frontline employees into their decision making process.

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Any enterprise cannot aspire to build a future based on innovation unless their workforce is innovative and adaptive. It is thereby required of all Indian based companies to now take a bottom-top approach towards decision making. To keep track of the employee base and have an environment of accountability GRC softwares like VComply are helpful. Dictatorship of innovation from the top must not be compelled as innovation is an anatomical phenomenon impelled through unconstrained employee participation.

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