Eastern Values, Western Methodologies

The Silk Road – where once East met West

We believe in the integration of eastern values with western management techniques to create sustainable businesses in a sustainable world – one with a soul for the common good.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent global financial crisis of 2008 gave the world pause for thought about what constitutes western values. Wall Street bankers continue to pay themselves hundreds of millions in bonuses while their banks implode; as factories in Shenzhen and elsewhere are forced to lay off hundreds of thousands of workers because they cannot be paid.

Traditional eastern culture values community over individuality – once seen as a weakness in entrepreneurship. No longer. It is heralded as the foundation of a socially responsible community. Even large MNCs try to emulate that by appointing CSR officers – a vain effort.

All around Asia and Middle East, shop-keepers had been happy selling identical goods with their neighbours. Haggling is a part of the way of business, and drinking coffee with your neighbouring trader is part of society’s values. Debt is to be repaid as soon as is practical while windfalls are to be shared. Competition is what one does at games, not business.

The modern MBA changed all that. Growth became a mantra, maximising profitability the goal. And since resources are limited, it has to be at the expense of others – business looked at other businesses as competition, the market considered as a zero-sum game. Techniques are developed to refine this objective. Time and motion studies done to improve productivity. Maslow, Metcalfe, Drucker, Porter, Deming to name a few management gurus all helped develop the science of management that spread around the world.

Without strong values in place, these techniques get exploited for personal gain. Such is the outcome we see in the current banking system and elsewhere in the corporate world. It is a direct result of management by objectives (MBO) and rewards through performance – two of the most powerful motivators emerging from management experts of the recent past.

Reasonable governments and social pressure groups around the world are now challenging whether this needs to be tempered with a healthy dose of common sense – for the social good and the common man.

Communities around the world have always questioned unabated greed. We believe these management techniques are excellent techniques, and when directed with a clear set of values that serve the community can achieve wonders and ways that can only be imagined today. They just need to be tempered with a good heart – from the top.

An example of such an integration of eastern values and western management techniques is the concept of ‘Social Business’ – developed by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for 2006 and founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Prof Muhammad Yunus.

We wholeheartedly support how east and west is harmonised by Prof Yunus. Read more about this here.