The movie “Outsourced” is about a person named Todd Anderson played by (Josh Hamilton) who has to travel to India to train his Indian replacement due to his department being outsourced. It also stars Puro (Asif Basra) who plays the Indian replacement and Asha (Ayesha Dharker) who is Todd’s love interest. It is a romantic comedy film, released in 2006 and is directed by John Jeffcoat. It is written by John Jeffcoat and George Wing. The movie is shot in the streets of Mumbai, India.
Todd Anderson (Josh Hamilton) is an American marketing executive whose company is being outsourced to India. He was upset and refused to travel to India to train his replacement, but when his boss, Dave, told him that quitting would result in him losing his stock options, he had no choice but to oblige. When Todd arrived in India, he was greeted by the vast contrast of cultures compared to India and USA.
He was clueless and insensitive about his actions and did not care of the diverse culture and continued to act like he was in America. Fortunately for Todd, the people he met there were very welcoming and patient. None of them took offense when he broke their social normalities and values but instead taught him the cultures of India.
The assignment Todd was assigned to make the call centre employees in India understand what their American customers expect, and get the Minutes-Per-Incident (MPI) under six minutes or he can never return to the USA.
Along the way, Todd learns more about the different cultural values between India and America like how Puro and his parents live together, and also experienced the festival of Holi, which is the celebration of colour and changing of seasons. Slowly getting used to the culture, he meets Asha (Ayesha Dharker. Later in the movie, they got closer and eventually became Todd’s love interest, and even teaching him a little about the cultural difference in India. An example being Kali, the Goddess of Destruction, who is believed to end one cycle so another can begin. Eventually, Todd got used to the cultures of India and even continued to live some of them when he returned home.
Outsourced is not only a romantic comedy film, but a very educational and purposeful movie about the cultures of India and a representation that every country has its own cultural beliefs. I have learnt not only about the Indian culture, but how we should be open minded to the vast amount of cultures there are besides our own, and even learn and gain knowledge from it when there is an opportunity. The movie also shows us the cross-cultural business between countries and how we must adapt and gain knowledge about another culture to satisfy the needs of another country and work happily together. This is known as cultural literacy. It helps to bring people, companies and countries together.
Religion in India is characterised by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices, and plays a significant part of their culture. 79.8% of the population practices Hinduism, 14.2% adheres to Islam, 2.3% adheres to Christianity, and 1.7% adheres to Sikhism. That is almost the whole population that belongs to a religion.
There was a scene in the movie where the employees were asking Todd about the merchandise of Western Novelty, and a branding iron came up. He later explained that it is used to brand the cows in America to keep track of them. Everyone in the room was shocked and disgusted to hear that, whereas Todd said it like it was normal. That is because in India, millions of Hindus revere and worship cows, it is thought to be a vital figure to India and must be greatly respected. Cows produce milk and can also be used for tiling fields. Their dung can also be used as a source of fuel and fertilizer, all of which are very important and helpful to Hindus in India.
Values is the idea, custom and beliefs to which people are emotionally attached. People express their culture and values that they were taught when they were still growing up as children. These values are instilled in them and anything out of the normality of it is considered not normal.
The movie has a perfect example of the difference of value and attitude between India and America. There was a scene where Asha was engaged to be married to someone and it had been planned since she was a child. This was normal for Asha, but to Todd, he was surprised. Even though she was “strong, smart and opinionated”, she still had to settle for an arranged marriage. However in America, this is usually not the case and people have their own rights to choose who they plan to marry. This exhibits cross-cultural differences. As for attitudes, there was a scene where they all got fired due to the department being outsourced to China. Even though it was bad news, they were still optimistic and were very open-minded people, and were still very elated with what they have learned. Additionally, they were very grateful and were not mad at Todd but instead thanked him for his service. On the contrary, when Todd was told he was being outsourced to India, he was upset and refused the offer, until his boss threatened him about losing his stock options.
Manners is the acceptable way of speaking, behaving and dressing in a culture. Customs are the traditional ways or behaviour in specific situations. Different cultures have different manners and customs.
It was shown in the movie when he ate with the left hand instead of the right. In India, it is disrespectful to eat with the left hand as it is “dirty”. We can see the vast culture difference in this scene. In America, using both the left or right hand is both faultless. However, they most often used fork and spoons and not even their hands. This exhibits cross-cultural competence and cultural adjustment. Cross-cultural competence is the knowledge of a different culture to adapt in cross-cultural environments.
Uncertainty avoidance is the intolerance of unorthodox ideas and traditions. A high uncertainty avoidance means that the country is strict on the beliefs and culture and anything out of that is deemed unordinary, whereas a low uncertainty avoidance means that the society is more relaxed, and is willing to welcome ambiguity and change.
In the movie, there is a scene where Asha was already promised to be engaged to someone since she was a child. Asha has a high uncertainty avoidance, she said “A girl in my position has her whole life mapped in out in front of her”. To Todd, this was something new and out of the ordinary but to Asha, it was a normality for her. Since in America, people usually have rights to choose who they plan to marry and what they want to become in the future. Todd grew up in America, so he is accustomed to this belief. He then told Asha “you have the right to choose for yourself”, and tried to convince her to change her cultural beliefs. This exhibits the cross-cultural differences.
Long term orientation is the planning of actions while keeping in mind the benefits in the long term, sacrificing certain aspects in life, like the freedom to choose, to prepare for the future. However, for short term, it focuses on the present more than the future, only caring about the present benefits and not the long term.
For example, when the company planned to outsourced to India, they did not think about long term and only did it since the payment of each worker in India is much less than the employees in America. This happened again when the company decided to move the call centre to China when his boss said that “China is the new India, 20 heads for the price of 1.” The company did not think about long term, but only reap the benefits of the current situation. Another scenario is when Asha is planned to marry a guy named Ashok. He has a very good job and very polite. The culture of Indians do not plan their marriage based on love but rather on the success and character of both the man and woman. Since more often than not, love is based on the present and not for long term, which also explains why America’s divorce rate is 50%.
Power distance is the position of each person in hierarchical order. The person with lower ranks must listen to the people whose position is higher than his/her own without any justification. People with low power distance often try to nullify the power in difference of ranks with their superior and is more comfortable approaching their bosses than people with high power distance.
This shows in the first scene of the movie, where Todd’s boss calls him into the office and asks him to go to India to train is replacement. The conversation they had was very casual and informal. Todd could even try to reason and negotiate with Dave even though Dave was his superior, but eventually had to listen since he did not want to get fired. The difference could barely have been told who is the boss and who is the employee, later in the movie, Todd argued with Dave with bringing the MPI down in the sixes and not down to a six, and also later called Dave a “corporate slime-ball”. This shows low power distance. However in India, the people respect the hierarchical order and the difference in ranking. An example was when Todd admonished Puro when there was no improvement of the MPI, he did not rebut but felt apologetic, and ensured Todd that they will get the Minutes per incident down.
Individualism is a culture in which individuals think of themselves without considering their family or a group of people. Whereas collectivism, It is the opposite of individualism. The individuals care about their family and friends and thinks of them.
For example in the movie, there was a scene where Puro was driving Todd to his hotel, but instead changed the plan and brought him to Auntie Ji’s house who will treat like him like his own mother. Puro claimed that the hotel Todd was meant to stay in was a very quiet and lonely place, and yet Todd insisted to go to the hotel. Another example was when Todd said he did not live with his parents. Puro was extremely shocked and even said “Some things I don’t understand about American life. You don’t live with your parents Strange”. The vast difference of individualism and collectivism between Todd and Puro here was very transparent. Where Todd is the individualist and Puro is the collectivist.
This movie has taught me a lot about the culture of India, and how different each culture are in different parts of the world. What seems normal to us may be unorthodox to some. Watching this movie has made me more aware about the world and how we must learn about other cultures as well, especially if we plan to visit the country. This is called cross-cultural awareness. Todd is the perfect example of someone being oblivious and not aware about the different cultures that exist besides his home country. He was very disrespectful to the Indians and their culture, and acted like he was still in America and was very ignorant of his surroundings. This could have been prevented if he did a little background research of the lifestyle and culture of the Indians, and maybe even form more friendships.
The second lesson I have learnt from this movie is the importance of adapting to different cultures, especially in this day and age where globalization is rapidly growing. Majority of the businesses are going international to grow their business, so having the knowledge of different cultures will be extremely helpful with forming partnerships across the world. The best way of gaining knowledge of a culture is using the key cross-cultural concepts by Hofstede, and it is even more important if it is a business trip. Knowing if the culture is long term or short term orientation will be advantageous when making or negotiating a deal with another business.
Additionally, having the insight of the business, if it is a high or low power distance or an individualist or collectivist company, will help with the discussion between the two companies and will be easier to come to a consensus with. Changing the terms and conditions to suit both the parties will be advantageous to everyone, and will help to grow both side of the business. Lastly, knowing if the company has a low or high uncertainty avoidance will help when negotiating, and adjust the amount of risk the two companies are comfortable to take. Without the knowledge of the cross-cultural concepts, making all these negotiations and deals can be devasting. Something normal to a party can be disrespectful and rude to the other, and cause feuds between businesses, or maybe even between countries, especially in this world where globalization is paramount in growing businesses. These movie is the perfect representation of how important understanding different cultures are. There should be more movies like this to build up cross-cultural awareness, and to overall build up cultural literacy.