The Returning Prodigal

After a long time, I am reading an interesting book on Culture- Culture Map by Erin Meyer.

The book talks of eight scales which affect the way people interact in Business. Replete with examples the book is an enjoyable read. Erin Meyer talks of cultural relativity. Your cultural leanings are measured on a scale and depending on whom you are interacting with.

However, the book doesn’t address the peculiar problem my friend is facing.

Sharing a story of my friend, Usha, who moved to the United States 20 years ago. She has, in her interactions with her colleagues both at the university as well as at her workplace, adopted many norms of her new home as her own.

Usha is returning to India for personal reasons. Though she is happy about the fact that she will be closer to her parents, she is filled with misgivings. Does she have to again undergo cultural adjustments? Will it be easy?

Some of her concerns are:

  1. Her work as a software developer has been interesting and challenging. Will it be the same in India?
  2.  She leaves for office at 6 am and returns by 4 pm to be at home for her children. She is responsible and doesn’t waste a single minute in office. Will her team mates in India fallow her to follow the same pattern, or will they expect her to stay back after 4 pm for team meetings? During her earlier visits, she had noticed that many of them reached office late and left late. There are bound to be differences in the scheduling of time.
  3. She has had challenging assignments in the US. Will assignments in India be equally challenging?
  4. One of the things she has learnt in the US is taking ownership of her actions. She decides what and how much she is going to do. Can she expect the same with her Indian colleagues?
  5. She is very independent; travels everywhere on her own. Can she travel as easily in India? 

Here is the catch. This is not reverse culture shock (she hasn’t moved as yet), but are concerns which trouble her. Interestingly, they are all cultural. 

Is Usha being risk averse?

Do share your thoughts.

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