The film Outsourced introduces viewers to the customs of the Indian culture through the experience of the principal character, Todd Anderson. The film underscores the need for foreign managers to respect the local customs in order to be successful leaders. In my view, the film excels in showing that ethnocentric behaviors do not foster a positive relations in culturally diverse workplace environments. Initially, Todd’s ethnocentric attitude and ignorance of the Hindu culture and religion threatens to spoil his relations with the Indian employees. However, later, Todd learns to respect and appreciate the Indian customs, which earns him cooperation from the subordinates.
Todd’s mission is to train the Indian call center workers on how to sell novelties to American clients. However, he initially encounters a culture shock because of his ignorance of the cultural differences between India and the U.S. For instance, he is ignorant of the Hindu religious practices and the sacredness of cows. He also does not know that Indians do not eat beef. Later, Todd learns to appreciate and respect the Indian culture, which motivates and endears him to the employees. For example, Todd learns to use his right hand when eating instead of the ‘unclean’ left hand and even dances to an Indian movie. His new approach seems to motivate employees who record a new target of six minutes per sale down from 12.17 (Outsourced).
Todd, on arrival, takes a trip to Gharapuri where he meets Purohit, his replacement, who calls him Mr. Toad. Although he initially tries to correct him, he later resigns to being called Mr. Toad as a way of adapting to the Indian ways. Initially, Todd wanted to teach the Indian employees American ways. He advised them to “learn the American culture” (Outsourced), including the American accent in order to boost sales. However, he realizes that western ideals cannot work in India and decides to relax the rules.
Work motivations vary from one culture to another. In the film, differences in attitude between the Indian and American people are evident. For example, the Indian employees are unperturbed of losing their jobs through outsourcing. Unlike Americans who derive their motivation from high pay and job stability, the Indians value kinship and culture. Indian workers are also motivated by things like donning in Indian clothing and adorning their workstations with family pictures. Moreover, in the film, the workers call the building housing the call center headquarters ‘Fulfillment’, as it represents good living standards aspired by everyone (Outsourced). In contrast, Todd’s motivation lies in materialism, not the middle-class aspirations of the Indian community.
As a new customer service manager deployed to an Indian call center, I would first seek to learn the local culture. One mistake that Todd did was to try and ‘Americanize’ the Indian employees without understanding their ways. Such an approach is usually met with resistance and mistrust. I would also seek to learn the religious practices, language, and values of the Indians. Todd did not bother to research on the Indian culture prior to his visit. As a result, he did not know that Indians eat vegetarian dishes, believe cows are sacred animals, and engage in arranged marriages.
I like the movie because it lacks cultural stereotypes and it uses accurate cultural portrayals. I also find the plot of the movie appealing and real. Todd is a visitor who does not understand the local ways when he arrives. However, he soon learns the local culture and turns out to be a good manager. Characterization is also good in the movie. However, I find Todd’s portrayal as a person who does not value family or kinship not a true depiction of Americans.
I have learnt important lessons from the film. To build positive intercultural relations, one must learn to respect other people’s traditions. The modern workplace environment draws people from diverse cultures and thus, misunderstandings are bound to arise if workers do not respect each other’s culture. Moreover, employee motivation varies across cultures and thus, different strategies should be used to motivate them.