Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018.
Sign up for free email newsletters and get more SHRM content delivered to your inbox.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 14 cities across the U.S. this fall.
Gain the skills you need to rise to the next level in your career. Jon us at SHRM's Leadership Development Forum, October 2-3 in Boston.
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Why do some U.S. HR departments succeed in Asia and others fail to comprehend and capitalize on the opportunities that these emerging markets present? A lot has to do with understanding the point of view of the Asian workforce and integrating it within an organization’s culture. Asian talent presents a great opportunity for American organizations and successful companies are integrating Asian talent by making them a part of executive teams; treating Asia as an academy for global leadership; and gaining from the region’s appetite for creativity, ingenuity and succeeding against odds.
Asia’s Cultural Diversity Is Complex
There have been many attempts to systematically study Asia’s cultural differences with the West and the most important ones are well highlighted: Eastern cultures are less direct; less confrontational; more conforming to social norms; more Parent-Child than Adult-Adult; more consensus-oriented and have a greater respect for authority. While these are largely true, the nuances are more difficult to understand and apply. Culture varies from country to country and within regions in each country. Stereotypes do not apply. Also, people who succeed and grow in American companies are often the outliers within their native cultures. One factor that derails achievement of goals is when there is a local subculture that is at odds with the prevalent company culture and prevents implementation of strategies at a local level.
Disparities Make Generalizations Difficult
In addition to cultural differences, Asia is riddled with disparities that make generalizations and holding a simple uniform view difficult. Some of the key disparities in the region include:
*Huge economic disparities: some of the fastest growing engines of the world economy exist side by side with the poorest regions in the world; slums exist next to some of the most expensive residences; and the pay differences between the highest and lowest paid person in the Asian organization is far greater than in the developed economies.
*Religious and philosophical systems: most of Asia has a wide array of religious and philosophical systems, and they are sometimes difficult to comprehend. One of the most fascinating and baffling aspects is that the really big questions—what is the purpose of life? What is the role of family? How should life be lived?—have been answered differently in the Eastern religions and philosophies. Answers to these questions translate into thought systems and approaches to decision making and problem solving as well as social affiliations in the workplace.
*Social structures: while largely unseen in professional worksplaces, regional and caste affiliations have a history of thousands of years that is hard to shrug off.
These disparities make the region difficult to navigate. From an HR point of view, a nuanced understanding of the workforce is both important and difficult.
Sharad Verma is senior HR director, SunGard Global Technology, based in Pune, India.
SHRM Online Global HR page
Keep up with the latest Global HR news
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
HR Professional Development Education in a City Near You
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies