Individual collectivism or collective individualism

The title of this post is directly related to the discussion that we just had at the Strategic HRM course. While the discussion was primarily about the 360 degree performance appraisal system, the applicability of this concept of Geert Hofstede’s epoch making study came up in between and this set me thinking.

The Prof was of the opinion (and I tend to agree with him) that we Indians are quite a confused lot. in things such as –

> being fiercely individualistic when it comes to following Hindu rituals such as believing in a select few of the 3 odd lakh Gods that we purpose to worship
> being collectivist in our approach as far as following Islam or even probably Buddhism
> being collectivist when it comes to pursuing career choices. For eg, if one is a topper at school level, it goes without saying that he/she would pursue a career in either engineering or medicine. Conversely, an ordinary student would rather puruse softer career paths in Human Resources, Fashion designing, Hotel Management, etc.
> being collectivist in the fact that most of us either support either the right wing parties such aS the Congress or other mainstream parties, or the leftist parties such as the CPI etc. But then, this again is linked with individualism in terms of supporting the various factions within the said parties.
> being individualist in terms of asking the best for our individual lives, and being collectivist in our opinion that the system in India sucks.
> being collectivist in our unstinted support for the Indian cricket team, when being individualist when it comes to decide who has to lead the team, a la, the coach Greg Chappel or the erstwhile captain Saurav Ganguly.
> being collectivist in our opinion that South Indian movies are better than most other movies made in the country, while being individualistic in our opinions as to whether Rajnikanth is a better performer than Kamal Haasan or not.

Wow, there are some confused souls out there in India. We need to do our homework right, or maybe Hofsteede’s framework simply doesn’t work in India today.



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