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Business culture

Below you can find information about the Indian business culture, etiquette, anti-corruption tools and office hours.

Most foreign companies which have worked in India maintain that India is different from any other country in the world. The need to understand the Indian business culture depends on the commitment being sought in the country. A common agent relationship does not require the same scrutiny as the establishment of a production with an Indian partner.

In connection with the establishing business activities in India, it is necessary to make business visits, as attendance is considered an important factor in the Indian business environment. India is a relatively easily accessible country for a business visit. In most cases it will only be needed to visit Indian cities where all necessary facilities for business travellers are found.

Business Culture
The Indian business culture is very distinct from the Danish. You will need to have perseverance and patience to do business in India. It is advisable to invest time and effort in acquiring knowledge about business culture and norms prior to entrance into the market in order to avoid misunderstandings and shattered expectations. Good knowledge of the local culture sends good signals to a business partner.

Bureaucracy
The Indian bureaucracy requires a lot of patience and is often closely associated with widespread corruption. The Indian government is aware of the problem and is working to ease the bureaucracy. There is particular focus on the private sector as corporate transactions and investments benefit the Indian economy.

"Bargain Mentality"
A bargain mentality is prevalent in India. Indians rarely reject a trade - it is important to keep in mind that most things can be negotiated. It is therefore essential to be both patient and persistent when it comes to good Indian relations and doing business in the country.

Time
Danish standards for compliance with deadlines in relation to delivery, customs clearance, meetings, approvals, transportation and payment are different from Indian standards. Indians appreciate punctuality, but often find it difficult to perform. This is partly due to the nature of the country's administrative and physical infrastructure and a different Indian perception of time and priorities. It often requires prolonged treatment of dealers, customers and manufacturing partners to achieve a consensus regarding the management of different business situations. Of course, there are also many Indian companies for whom the European business culture is well known.

Taking a decision is often time-consuming in India. Indians prefer to turn all aspects of a case before deciding. They appreciate this being respected by foreign partners. Decision-making in Indian companies is basically top-down.

Anti-Corruption Tools
Corruption can pose a serious barrier to trade and is making Danish companies lose orders in foreign markets. Hence, it is essential to have the appropriate anti-corruption tools, which can help counteract corruption problems.

Corruption in India is immense and it is a serious challenge all foreign companies face when operating in the country. Specific information on corruption in India can be found on Transparency International India's webpage.

Experience shows that knowledge and systematic risk management can prevent much of the corruption Danish companies are exposed to. Therefore, the Trade Council offers counselling and simple tools to avoid corruption and reduce risks associated with investments in countries with corruption, including India.

The Trade Council can for instance help with the following anti-corruption tasks:

  • Country specific information about corruption, including information about particularly exposed markets, sectors, and regions. 
  • Risk assessment on the basis of the company's present and potential market situation.
  • Help with identification and preliminary screening of agents, consultants, and distributors. 
  • Help with preparation of contracts in which anti-corruption is incorporated. 
  • Guidance in connection with public offerings. 
  • Access to a network of local organizations dealing with corruption issues.
  • Information about relevant national and international anti-corruption legislation. 
  • Assistance in relation to public authorities.

You can find further information about how companies can avoid corruption on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' anti-corruption portal here.

You can find information on laws and guidelines on corruption from the Ministry of Justice here.

The Trade Council has implemented an internal anti-corruption policy establishing clear guidelines on how its staff is to respond to corruption and bribery. The internal policy is based on a “zero-tolerance-principle” towards corruption and bribery.

All employees at the Trade Council's representations abroad as well as in Copenhagen are obligated to report any knowledge of Danish companies involved in bribery. The same applies to the awareness of the Trade Council staff, including locally employed staff, giving or receiving bribes. Reporting should be made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry will decide on further action including potential notification to Danish and foreign authorities and thereby possible reporting to the police. This applies regardless of whether the bribery has taken place in Denmark or abroad, and regardless of how the information came into Trade Council's possession.

Etiquette

  • Do use titles wherever possible, such as “Professor” or “Doctor”. If your Indian counterpart does not have a title, use “Mr”, “Mrs”,  “Miss”, “Sir” or “Madam”.
  • Do wait for a female business colleague to initiate the greeting. Indian men do not generally shake hands with women out of respect.
  • Do remain polite and honest at all times in order to prove that your objectives are sincere.
  • Do not be impatient and aggressive in your business negotiations – it can indicate disrespect.
  • Do not bring large or expensive gifts as this may cause embarrassment. If you do bring a gift make sure you present the gift with both hands.
  • Do not refuse any food or drink offered to you during business meetings as this may cause offence. In addition, it is useful to bear in mind that many Indians are vegetarians and many do not drink alcohol.
  • When exchanging business cards use right hand or both hands to give and receive, since the left hand is regarded unclean.
  • Proper dress code such as suit and tie goes for meetings and business related events.

Collaboration Partners
The Indian businessmen represent a broad spectrum ranging from creative amateurs to professional managers. Likewise, the private sector consists of everything from small family-based organizations to professional businessmen with solid international experience. It is therefore essential to take time to carefully assess a potential business partner and align expectation before engaging in collaboration or partnership.

Collaboration with an Indian company generally requires patience and tolerance from the Danish partner since Indian procedures and performance seldom matches the general Danish business culture and standards.

In addition, it is important to be aware of the fact that Indian businessmen may be slightly suspicious of foreign companies' motives and business. Hence, it may take time and resources to build up a relationship based on mutual trust, however, India's continuous development is diminishing this effect.

Office hours
The following business hours should be considered only as a guideline as there could be variations in different regions.

Government Organisations and Private Businesses
Monday to Friday from 09:30 - 17:30
Some of them may be open on Saturday
Sunday closed

Banks
Monday to Friday from 10:00 - 14:00 for public dealing; business hours from 9:00-18:00
Saturday from 10:00 - 12:00 for public dealing.
ATM counters are open round the clock.

Post Offices
Monday to Friday from 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday morning until about 12:00
The main post offices may have longer hours.

Restaurants
Most restaurants are usually open until 23:00, with nightclubs and discos closing later.

Shopping
10:00 - 19:00 - closing days vary - all markets do not remain closed on the same day.
Some shopkeepers may take a siesta. 

The Trade Council can be contacted Monday-Thursday between 9:00-16:30 and Friday between 9:00-16:00.

 

Contact details 

 

Meetings only by prior arrangement.