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Outsourced - A Cross Cultural Analysis

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Eni Will

on 9 June 2014

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Transcript of Outsourced - A Cross Cultural Analysis

Context and Communication Styles
Direct talking style
Very clear communication
With no hidden implications

Challenges Of International Assignment
American Novelties Staffing strategy:
ethnocentric, sent and American from an American company to the foreign land
Did not provide any predeparture training
Little notice was given
Todd had no previous overseas experience
Choose based on expertise, but possibly because Todd had no dependents

Comparison of Cultures using Hofstede's (2001) Dimensions
Brief Movie Overview
Outsource – to obtain goods or services from an external or foreign supplier

Todd has his job outsourced to India, where he is sent to train the new call centre manager in international and interpersonal relations with Americans. During his time there he finds himself learning through experience after a series of cross-cultural circumstances.

Todd, Dave, Puro, Asha and Aunty Ji
Power Distance
Attitude towards inequality
Perceived societal equality
India scores 77, U.S.A. scores 40
Unevenly distributed hierarchy
Todd’s conversation with Puro
“Mr. Todd”
The Wall

How this played out in ‘Outsourced’:
Asha says “A girl in my position has her whole life mapped out in front of her.”
Todd promotes her to assistant manager, saying he believes that “Asha can do anything.”

Uncertainty Avoidance
Independence vs Interdependence
India-48, U.S.A.-91
“The American Dream”
Immediate vs Extended family
Todd vs Puro

A masculine society is associated with assertive, competitive go-getter mentality.

US scores 62 versus India scoring 56 on the masculinity value dimension. (Hofstede)

In “Outsourced”, a clear example of masculinity of Americans is shown by
the basic premise of the movie; the company wants to generate more
revenue and therefore choose to reduce labor expenses by outsourcing
first to India then to China.

Time Orientation
Long-term orientation is associated with thrift, or saving, due to the focus on long-term perseverance.

Short-term orientation is associated with a feeling security and lack of worrying about the future.

US scores 29 versus India scoring 61 on this dimension (Hofstede)

In “Outsourced”, the second Todd sets foot in India, he’s already got Dave pressuring him about goals
he needs to achieve and if he doesn’t achieve them he will never be able leave India.

Outsourced - A Cross Cultural Analysis
Cultural perception of time is named Chronemics by Hall and can be broken down into two functions; Monochronic and Polychronic.

Monochronic – Doing one thing at a time, concentrate on the job, take commitments seriously, follow plans seriously and are low-context and need information.

Polychronic – Doing many things at once, can be easily distracted and manage interruptions well, are committed to people and human relations and are high-context.

In “Outsourced”, Todd has no clue of his future, his Job security, or which country he will be in next, yet his sole focus is on getting his MPI down to a flat six because it is the most immediate and important deadline on his schedule.


Indirect talking style
Verbally implicit
Inward reaction and emotion


Todd's (American)

First reaction of seeing the call centre's environment
Reaction to the call centre’s high MPI

Employees (Indian)

Decline in a very indirect way
Hide their emotions

Puro declines the request
Nobody explicitly says they are shocked

India's major religious demographic is Hinduism
-> cows are sacred animals

Todd fails to understand this when he:
a) describes the branding of baby cows to the employee's in a nonchalant manner
b) desperately tries to find a beefburger in India, only to find a veggie burger

Beneath the 'Cultural Iceberg' - Religion
Lewis' Cultural Categories
Todd's U- Curve of Adjustment
did not pass
phase 3
Organisation and Non- Work Culture Novelty

Individual Perception and Relation skills

Highlighted factors affecting the degree of Todd’s Adjustment
Black, J.S. & M. Mendenhall (1991). The u-curve adjustment hypothesis revisited: A review and theoretical framework. Journal of International Business Studies, 22(2), 225-247.

Black, J.S., M. Mendenhall & G. Oddou (1991). Toward a Comprehensive Model of International Adjustment: An Integration of Multiple Theoretical Perspectives. Academy of Management Review, 16(2), 292-317.

Browaeys, M-J. & Price, R. (2011), Understanding Cross-Cultural Management, 2nd edition, FT Prentice Hall, pp. 123-124

Hall, E. T., Birdwhistell, R. L., Bock, B., Bohannan, P., Diebold Jr, A. R., Durbin, M. & Vayda, A. P. (1968). Proxemics [and Comments and Replies]. Current anthropology, 83-108.

Hofstede, G. (2010). India - Geert Hofstede. [online] Geert-hofstede.com. Available at: http://geert-hofstede.com/india.html
[Accessed 29 May. 2014]
Javidan, M., Stahl, G., Brodbeck, F. and Wilderom, C. (2005). Cross-border transfer of knowledge: Cultural lessons from Project GLOBE. The Academy of Management Executive, 19(2), pp.59--76.

Outsourced (2006), Film. Directed by John Jeffcoat. USA: ShadowCatcher Entertainment

Thank you for your time, we invite any questions
Culture Shock
Todd experienced culture shock in his workplace, relationship, food, environment.

Workplace – Frustration and tensions because the way he did things were different from how Indians did things.

Relationships – On the train when the little boy sat on his thigh. Also when Asha told him she has been engaged to be married since she was 4.

Food – His stomach could not handle the food Aunt Ji made. Always had to use the toilet and he was turning pale.

Environment – When he came out of the airport, the crowd and the taxi drivers. - Also when he tried to get on the train his own way.

Todd (the expatriate) could not feel at home in his own home anymore. He puts “the third” eye on a picture.
Feels loneliness - No friends or family - Calls his mother
Changed as a person, could not get back to his old habits. For example, he now prefers a lot of sugar in his coffee.

Identify theories highlighted in Outsourced
Critically analyse the theories discussed in class
Amalgamate these points and apply them in a cross cultural context
Lower adjustment at phase 1
Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions
Verbal Communication Styles
Non-verbal Communication
Staffing strategies & decision
Culture Shock
Personal space
Rankings in organisations
The Wall
Overpopulation – city, trains
Need for respect
Use of left hand
Proxemics and Haptics
/ gives good excuses
Understanding power distance is imperative in effective cultural integration

Perception of time affects understanding of communication styles & business approach

Americans with a low context culture are direct and task oriented while Indians with a high context culture are indirect and people oriented

Lack of training and role ambiguity resulted in Todd's low starting adjustment

Outsourced shows the difference in an an expatriate's attitude at different stages of the U-curve - particularly in culture shock, adjustment and repatriation
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