Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

Gaining some Indian insights

March 4, 2009

One of the biggest challenges for multinationals (and international business scholars) is untangling the enormous institutional and cultural differences from country to country. Perhaps the most complex business environment, and one which multinationals are increasingly engaging with, is the world’s largest democracy – India.

indian_flagOften Western firms, particularly those from former British colonies (such as Australia) mistakenly assume that India’s similar administrative background will make business easier than in other developing and transitional countries. The existence of a sizable English-speaking population exacerbates this preconception.

Quickly they discover that that life on the ground is dramatically more complex (and frustrating) than they expected. India is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, pluralistic society steeped in thousands of years of traditions and burdened with layer upon layer of bureaucracy. It is also a nation undergoing incredible rates of change, and these changes are impacting on different layers and generations of society in very different ways.

This can make every element of international business more difficult, whether it be starting a business, choosing a location within the country (and a city), negotiating with public officials, hiring workers, securing supply lines, distributing products, adapting designs, or shaping a marketing message.

It would be tempting to through up one’s hands and say “this is too hard”. But, with the world’s largest middle class, a huge pool of skilled workers, and more than a 6th of the world’s population, India is too big an opportunity to ignore. Firms need to learn and learn fast.

One excellent starting point would be the India Reborn documentary series which has been running recently on Australian television (on SBS). This four-parter has done a fantastic job of surveying a broad range of issues in an even-handed and fascinating fashion, juxtaposing the experiences of a broad cross-section of India’s society. Below are a series of short teaser videos that should give you a feel for its approach and content.

Unfortunately, I can’t find an on-line version of said doco. The more web-savvy of you may be able to find it. Alternatively it is supposed to be coming out on DVD very soon. It has this blog’s seal of approval as a means to (slightly) reduce your cultural distance from this labyrinthine environment. There are also numerous moments where the globalisation process is wonderfully illustrated (but I’ll leave them for you to discover).


International BS Blog goes to the movies

October 17, 2008

Anyone home tonight (Friday , October 17), might want to check out a documentary film on SBS titled End of the Rainbow. The film, made by an Australian team, follows an (unnamed) Australian mining firm who move their operations from Borneo to Africa.

Image from Film

The film highlights the enormous impact such projects have on the local people, with the relocation of villages, the privatising of land, the employment of some locals, the imposition of security measures, the environmental impact etc. Here is a trailer.

I saw this film at the Melbourne International Film Festival. It is beautifully shot, includes some intriguing characters (and great music), and hints at some highly relevant questions. There are some frustrating elements too. In trying to showcase the universal dimensions of such huge changes to lifestyle, the film deliberately keeps the corporation faceless and their agenda unspoken. As such, we gain too little insight into the motivations for being in this location, or the arrangements they have with government etc.

Nevertheless, it is well worth a look. Also, if want to know about how it was made, the film-maker’s experience and his interpretation of the work, you can hear an interview with him here.