06 May 2011

Why China copies and India invents

I was on bed and I had to get out of it to write this. I was reading the first paragraphs of White Tiger, specifically this part:

Apparently, sir, you Chinese are far ahead of us in every respect, except that you don’t have entrepreneurs. And our nation, though it has no drinking water, electricity, sewage system, public transportation, sense of hygiene, discipline, courtesy, or punctuality, does have entrepreneurs.

And it hit me. I understood everything (as much as you can understand everything while on your bed). One of those eureka moments came to me and it was clear as water why China is a copycat machine, while India has the IT sector of the world in its hands. I might be very wrong because I haven't visited BOTH countries, but I am also an entrepreneur and I am not afraid to fail tonight. I am cocky enough to think I will succeed.

The thing about China and India are essentially about organizational culture. Well, culture, not "organizational", but if you would think both States as "organizations", then it would be organizational culture. 

In China, the government restricts information, tells you how many children you can have, tell you what is right and what is wrong. It holds the truth in its hands, people have to comply. This approach has its merits: efficiency. The well-oiled Chinese machine outproduces the whole world. It is a factory. But only a factory, as in the Apple's products labels "Designed by Apple in California." while somewhere hidden it says "Assembled in China." California has the brains, China is just a glorified tinkerer. Also no question about who gets the biggest share of the money: always the brain.

In India, on the other hand, it is a land of very few blacks and whites: everything is grey. It depends. And it depends a lot. Like Brazil, the government in India is not the most trusted entity: you have to make a living yourself, because suddenly your slum might be erased from the map because of a new government program. No job? Use your imagination and generate some sort of money. Old taboos, such as "girls should not work", are easily forgotten for the sake of practical survival. To hell with the rules, says the Indians, we will do our own stuff. And here they are, the biggest entrepreneurial nation in the planet, where almost anything is up for negotiation. Yes, there are draw backs when everyone is doing their own thing: chaos, organizations (enterprises or government) have more leverage over the disorganized society of the individual. But it teaches you a hell lot of initiative. It teaches you, like a shark, to never stop swimming. It gives you faith in yourself - because if you don't trust yourself, no one else will.

So if China wants a bit more entrepreneurship, it will have to let the danger of freedom enter its doors, because that is the only way innovation can come in too. And if India want some order, might be interesting looking to... hm, not China, please. Maybe Norway?

Again the phrase "culture eats strategy for breakfast" makes a lot of sense. I am fascinated by organizational culture and its influence. Maybe that is what I need to do. Maybe that is my leverage to change the world. Culture change & management. 

Oh, men, just having my trip to India next week is already putting me in a very different mood than the stiff and anti-entrepreneurial organizational culture in Norway.

Good things come to those who act.

[No revision. That is the way I am. Leave me be.]

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.