WORK CULTURE IN INDIAN ORGANIZATIONS Essay
A Journey Towards Organizations of Today’s Knowledge Based Industries
Work is a source of sustenance to human beings. The environment where the person works has a lot of effect on the efficiency and effectiveness. In a layman’s language we can call this environment along with the processes working in it as the ‘Work Culture’.
With the opening up of Indian economy and the flourishing of knowledge based industries in India, this environment of work has considerably changed and it has a marked influence on the social lives of the people working in these kinds of industries. As these industries are located mostly in big/metropolitan cities and affects educated urban middle/upper class generally, this paper will be somewhat skewed towards these class of people working mostly in large organizations.
I will also concentrate on defining work culture, on types of work culture, on the impact of society on work culture, on emerging work culture and finally focusing on the knowledge based industries
Work culture refers to work related activities and the meanings attached to such activities in the framework of norms and values regarding work. These activities, norms and values are generally (but not always) conceptualized in an organization. An organization has its boundaries, goals and objectives, technology, managerial practices, material and human resources as well as constraints (which is referred to as organizational culture). Its employees have skills, knowledge, needs, expectations and behavior. These two set of factors – organizational and organismic interact and over time establishes roles, norms, and values pertaining to work. It is this totality of the various levels of interacting forces around the focal concern for work, which is labeled as work culture.
The work culture also has its roots from the socio-cultural values and systemic features of the surrounding milieu.
Work and organizational cultures are subsets of the larger societal culture. While each organization has its own work culture, two patterns are distinct: soft and synergetic, representing the extremes of a broadly conceived continuum of work. Soft work culture means that everybody in the organization is complacent enough and the motivation level of the employees to do something new is very less. The soft culture is not a desirable state of an organization in the synergetic work culture, socio-cultural values are utilized to mobilize and motivate manpower.
If organizational culture is conducive to excellence at work, high productivity, the centrality of work in employees’ life space and a high quality of work life, the organization is said to have a work-conducive culture otherwise a non work-culture.
If an organization enforces strong work norms, maintains strict work disciplines and makes profits, but neglects and exploits its human resources the organization is said to possess an amoral work-centric culture. The employees lack involvement, commitment and desire to do something innovative in this kind of culture.
Similarly if an organization neglects the social needs of its employees in achieving technological excellence, it is said to be working under technocratic culture.
The criteria which determines the centrality of work for an individual are job affect and job clarity, time to devote to work i.e. work pressure, job and life satisfaction, value addition from the job, peace of mind, working conditions, up-to-date technology, superior-subordinate relationship, reinforcement (reward for hard work), status/prestige associated with the position/designation, extent of responsibility and freedom for making decisions, security of job and last but not the least money.
Work culture changes with the organization’s core activity The work culture present in heavy industries is significantly different from that existing in diverse industries like banking, fashion, entertainment and knowledge based industries
Irrespective of organizational setting, the employees may tend to work hard, feel positive towards working and consider work to be central to their identity depending on their geographical or cultural region. A very clear example is the Japanese culture that socializes its members in cultivating a work-centric culture. The Indian cultural milieu is collectivist. Hence any culture in the organization should give due consideration to the group activities to a certain extent for success.
The social hierarchy existing in India makes Indians feel comfortable in the superior-subordinate framework. Once a hierarchy is established the juniors goes to any extent to please their seniors.