Industrial relations are the key for increased productivity in industrial establishments. One of the major problems faced by India is unemployment and illiteracy. Unemployment compels workers, particularly the illiterate and unskilled, to accept jobs under inhumane working conditions with niggardly wages. Industrial relations seek to protect workers interests and to improve their economic conditions. Industrial relations protect the rights of managers too. When the behaviour of workers deviates from the expected lines, it is the management’s prerogative to take action.
Different people perceive the scenario of industrial relations differently. The three popular approaches to industrial relations are:
- UNITARY APPROACH: Under this approach, industrial relations are grounded in mutual co-operation, teamwork and shared goals. Workplace conflicts are seen as a temporary aberration resulting due to misunderstanding. As per the unitary approach, unions co- operate with the management and the managements right to manage is accepted because there is no ‘we they ’ feelings. This is not true with regards to India. Indian companies and organisations still follow a hierarchy system of management. There is a strong ‘we they’ feeling among the workforce. There is a clear line of distinction between the various levels of authority and responsibilities in the organisation. Unitary approach emphasises on a reactive industrial strategy, i.e., it seeks direct negotiations with employees. This is true with regards to the Indian management. Peaceful negotiations are the first step taken by both the employees and employers. Only when this step fails to reach a common agreement does the intervention of governments and tribunals come into scene. Indian management does have some similarities to the ideas of the unitary approach, though not all.
- PLURALISTIC APPROACH: Under this approach the legitimacy of the management authority is not automatically accepted. But in the Indian setting it is the exact opposite that occurs. In India the legitimacy of the management is not questioned. Freedom to express opinions and suggestions are given to certain levels of the workforce and these are also taken into considerations. But the management dictates the final decisions and these are expected to be followed by all. Another aspect of the pluralistic approach is that it views the conflicts between managers and employees as beneficial for innovation and growth. This is not very true as far as the Indian management is concerned. Not very often are such conflicts seen to create any positive influence on the neither parties nor the organisations. In this approach the presence of a strong union is seen not only as desirable but necessary. In India employees of both the private and public sector have the freedom to join any registered trade unions. But at many instances it may be noticed that trade unions instigate unnecessary obstacles in the smooth functioning of organisations. Therefore it cannot always be considered that the presence of trade unions in necessary.
- MARXIST APPROACH: The Marxist approach thus focuses on the type of society in which an organisation functions. Conflict arises not just because of competing interests within the organisation, but also because of the division within society between those who own or manage and those who have only their labour to offer. This is more than ever true in case of Indian organisations. Most of such industrial conflicts result ion political and social unrest. Trade unions are seen as a weapon to bring about revolutionary change. Many a times important concerns like wage related disputes fall secondary. For the Marxists, all strikes are political. Besides, Marxists regard state intervention via legislation and the creation of industrial tribunals as supporting management’s interest rather than ensuring a balance between the competing groups. Links, which help usher in cordial industrial relations, like employee participation, co- operative work cultures etc. are not acceptable to the Marxists.
The major parties to industrial relations are the employees, trade unions, employers, and association for employers, governments and courts and tribunals. The economic and social status of today’s employees has vastly improved in India. The dynamic changes in the industrial sphere have brought about a social amalgam. The stigma attached to factory life has disappeared in India. Re- adjustment in the value system in favour of industrial employment has enhanced the status of the industrial worker today. The change in the employment pattern that has resulted because of changes in industrial activities had tremendously expanded and diversified and undergone a technical transformation in India.
Trade union movement in India has a century- long history. Unions have a crucial role to play in industrial relations in India. The union power is exerted primarily at two levels. The first is at the industry level, to establish joint regulation on basic wages and hours, with an employer or the employer’s association. The second at the plant level, where the shop stewards organisations exercise joint control over some aspects of work and localised terms and conditions of employment. In India, major trade unions have political affiliations too. Retrenchments and strikes are common, the latter being mostly ineffective. As of today, there are 50,000 registered unions in India. But there have been some recent developments in certain sectors of the society. ‘A recent investigation conducted has found that both the Scheduled and the Public Sector banks have, by the large, accepted the adage that 'Union is the other side of Management' and accordingly, the employee associations on the premises of these banks are enacting a powerful role in protecting their members' interest as well as enhancing the bank HRD effort through active participation. On the other hand, union movement is still in infancy in the Cooperative Banks and the managements of these banks are yet to learn to live with the phenomenon.’ (, Vol.16, Iss. 4; pg. 1445, 5 pgs)
Employers and employer associations are also an important part of industrial relations. Employer associations operate at local, industry and all India levels. The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) is a powerful body at the national level, which is doing an admirable job in protecting and promoting the legitimate interests of owners of industries. The government has set up wage boards, labour courts, tribunal and enacted laws to lay down norms to enforce their compliance.
IMPACT OF CULTURE ON HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Culture refers to a set of values; rules and standards transmitted among generations and are aimed at modelling behaviours so that they fall within the acceptable limits. Individuals anchor their conduct in the culture of the group to which they belong. Each culture operates according to its own internal dynamic, its own principles and its own laws- written or unwritten. Culture guides the actions and responses of people in every walk of life. All cultures have important differences that are not stated. These differences have extent great influence in managing the practitioners of that culture. According to Harris and Moran (2001, pg 48), culture impacts on behaviour, morale, and productivity at work and includes values and patters that influence company attitudes and actions. Corporate culture affects how an organisation copes with competition and change, in terms of technology, economics and people. Cultural knowledge provides insight into people. This helps to employ appropriate business protocol that is in harmony with the ideologies, standards, character etc of the local people. Cultural management has to be considered because knowledge of a host country's culture-related values are crucial for managing and exacting the best out of every employee. It also reduces the potential for misunderstanding and conflict between management and the workforce
The rapid increase in the globalisation of business and the growing significance of emerging markets suggest that the success of managers in this new century depends to a great extend on the degree to which they develop an understanding on how human resource is managed in other parts of the country. As the world moves towards a ‘global business village’, there is a greater need to know how managers in various parts of the world cope with issues and handle problems relating to human resource. It is not enough, in the present setting that managers know only about only their home country and its various aspects. They should have sufficient knowledge about how human resource is managed and the strategies implemented by other countries. This is particularly true in a country like India. In India, religious beliefs and social values play an important role in the workforce's perception of work, learning, and human relation. Several multinational companies are setting up their offices in the various cities of India. For the successful achievement of their objectives, it is essential that they have a clear understanding about the culture and attitude of the Indians. Cultural awareness and skill can be helpful in influencing organisational culture. Management philosophies of every country are deeply rooted in culture. Therefore adopting management practices of one culture to another may not always prove to be positive.
India has a rich cultural background. Interpersonal relationships are given tremendous importance. Even though the modern means of living have been accepted resulting in improved lifestyle cultural values and beliefs still remain unchanged. Elders and the respect for elders is a major component in Indian culture. They are, even today, considered the driving force of any family. Indian culture emphasises on strong family ties. Group loyalty is important in India, whether it is to a company, family or trade. Individual eccentricity is rare. Respect for superiors and obedience are unwritten rules of Indian culture. The Indian culture exerts strong impact on its work environment also. It is essential that managers take due consideration of the various cultural values and principles of the Indian personnel. Indians have extensive information networks among family, friends, colleagues, and clients and with those who are involved in close personal relationships. Consequently, they do not require providing in- depth background information for most normal communications in daily life. They keep themselves informed about everything related to those who are important in their lives. The Indian culture is past- oriented. Historical background is given vital importance. Indian management also emphasises over nurturing values giving it a feminine touch rather than adopting aggressive masculine characteristics for achievement of objectives. This is one of the four dimensions identified by Hofstede. With regards to the individualism or collectivism, one of the other dimensions, the immediate families are always the primary and core concern of every Indian.
Culture also has deep impact on employee relations. In India, the relation between the boss and his/ her employees are more like homely relations, with required restrictions. Relationships are maintained at a more personal level. This helps to create a more friendly and warm working environment with a personal bond. It also helps to motivate employees to put in a little extra effort into his/ her work. It also helps to instil loyalty and honesty to work. Hierarchy is important to Indian managers. Indian society demonstrates a high power-distance culture. By this is meant that workers prefer authoritative and hierarchical forms of management. They also respond favourably to close supervision. The subordinates restrict themselves from correcting their boss and often manager reinforce their position of authority to their subordinates. Human resource management mainly focuses on combining of interests. Only having a proper insight about the cultural trends and diversification can ensure commonality in interest among the employees. This helps managers to understand the mindset and attitudes of the employees and accordingly adopt strategies. For instances, in India the system of part- time jobs is not common, in other words nearly nil. They work on the basis of a monthly payment. Employers must keep in mind the framework of the employees approach before taking decisions. Cultural awareness will also help a manager to get the best from a team located in a far-flung location.
There is an ethical aspect to every business. But it is difficult to draw a clear line of distinction between what maybe considered ethical and what as unethical. What maybe considered as ethical in one cultural set up maybe treated as unethical in another. Therefore, understanding the cultural set up is essential to remain within the ethical limits of the cultural set up in which they function. Corporate culture and ethical climate can put pressure on people to channel their actions in certain directions desired by the company. In India, it is the company’s values that give the management credibility with its employees. Decision- making adopting appropriate strategies, motivating employees, enforcing a commonality in the goals to be attained are some of the major managerial concerns with regards to culture.
The current conditions have created a strong need for Human Resource Management in India to seriously emphasis on stopping issues like ‘Brain- Drain’, promoting women to enter the mainstream of the workforce and to change the less productive work culture to one that is more productive. The growth of emerging economies adds to the complexities of the responsibilities of professionals who manage human capital. For this reason, the Society for Human Resource Management is increasing its international activities and intends to establish offices in Mumbai. These may be considered as some of the future challenges faced by the Indian business. India is viewed as having an advantage in customer-service outsourcing and the software industry. The basis for India's advantage is its large number of educated yet relatively low-wage workers who are fluent in English. In order for Indian organisations to compete with the foreign competitors and to become a true economic power, serious consideration should be given to the arising HR challenges. Most HR professionals are likely to find themselves working increasingly on projects with global aspects in the decades ahead. It may not be easy to develop a core set of accepted human resource practices within the framework of cultural differences, but it will be one of the most important goals the HR profession must accomplish in the years to come. The dynamic and competitive business environment presents a number of challenges to Indian Human Resource Management.
Thus it can be concluded that employee relations and culture have important implications on the management of human resource in India. With the rise in globalisation, it is essential that the human resource potential be tapped by understanding the work ethics and values of employees and empowering them to thrive. For this, knowledge about the work culture and attitude of people of a specific geographic location is necessary. The present economy is on where knowledge, innovation and creativity are prized and people are the bottom line. It is crucial that their potential is harnessed rather than just being instructed and controlled.
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