Culture Clashesat MehtaInvestmentGroup: ACase Study KamleshT. Mehta, Peace College ABSTRACT ThecasestudyisaboutasmallmultinationalfinancialinvestmentfirmlocatedinEnglandwithover$43millioninnetprofit andemploys over500people.Thirteenemployees ofthefirmhave

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Culture Clashesat MehtaInvestmentGroup: ACase Study

KamleshT. Mehta, Peace College

ABSTRACT

ThecasestudyisaboutasmallmultinationalfinancialinvestmentfirmlocatedinEnglandwithover$43millioninnetprofit andemploys over500people.Thirteenemployees ofthefirmhavecomplainedaboutthedisplayofa“Swastika”byco-workersintheworkplace.Thecompanyisfacedwiththechallengesassociatedwithdiverseworkforcewithdifferentnationalities,culturalvalues,andreligiousbeliefs,andlegalcomplicationsintheEuropeanUnion.

THECOMPANY

MehtaInvestmentGroup[MIG]Inc.isaglobal,private,for-profit,financialinvestmentcompanyheadquarteredinLondon,Britain.TheownerandtheChairmanofthecompany,CameronMehta,startedthecompanywith$500dollarsasaresultofanargumentwithhisfatherattheageof20.Sinceitsinception,overthepast41years,companyhasgrowninthefinancialsectoroftheEuropeanUnion.Thefirm’scorebusinessisinvestmentonbehalfofitsclients.In2007,thecompanyreported$43millioninnetprofits,hasclientsfromthe20membercountriesoftheEuropeanUnion,andemploysover500employeesinBritain,France,Germany,andSpain.Thecompanyisintherapidgrowthstageandhasprojecteda$50millioninnetprofitin2008.MehtaInvestmentGroupattributesitssuccesstothecorporateculturethatstemsfromtheleadershipstyleandpersonalvaluesofCameronMehta,Chairmanofthecompany.Inaddition,CameronMehtaattributesthesuccessofthecompanytohisdiverseemployees.Thediversework-forceofthecompanyiscomposedofdifferentnationalities,religiousbeliefs,andculturalvalues.Withthegrowthofthecompany,Cameronplanstoincreasehiswork-forcefrom500employeesto700overthenextfour years.

THEEMPLOYEES

Overtheyears,companyhasnothadanyseriouscomplaintfromtheemployees.Thejobsatisfactionamongemployeeshasbeenveryhigh.Thecompanyhasenjoyedasteadygrowtheveryyearforthepast40years.Thegrowthandsuccessofthecompanyisduetodiversityofemployeesatalllevelsoftheorganization,whoarecharacterizedashard-working,dedicated,loyal,family-oriented,andreligious.Thediverseworkforceiscomposedofnumerousreligionsandnationalorigins.Also,thecompanyChairmanandthemajorityoftheemployeessharesimilarvalues,whichhavedriventhegrowthandsuccessofthecompany.  Asaresult,morethan50%oftheemployeeshavebeenwiththecompanyfor15yearsormore.Theemployeeturnoverrateisat6%andwellbelowtheindustryaverageof26%.Thediversework-forcehasstrengthenedcompany’scontactsintheindustryandbroughtinclientsofdifferentnationaloriginsandfromall20membercountriesoftheEuropeanUnion.Table1presentsthebreakdownofemployeesbynationalorigin,location,andreligion.

Table 1: Company-Wide Employees

NationalOrigin

Location

Religion

Indian

60%

Britain

80%

Hinduism

50%

British

20%

Germany

9%

Judaism

25%

German

12%

France

5%

Christianity

22%

French

3%

Spain

5%

Islam

2%

Other

5%

Other

1%

Other

1%

THEDILEMMA

AllysaLiverpool,theCEOofMehtaInvestmentGroup(aBritishcompany)receivesamemorandumfromPriyaMehta,theVicePresidentofOperations,regardingdissatisfactionamongseveralemployees.ThememorandumaddressesacomplaintfromthirteenemployeesthroughinternalEmployeeFeedbackCard.TheemployeesattheBritainlocationhaveexpressedtheirdissatisfactionandoutrageregardingsomeof theco-workersdisplayinga“RedSwastika”intheiroffices.ThethirteenemployeesfindthedisplayofswastikaoffensiveandacommendationofactsofNazi duringtheWWII.Thethirteenemployees’nationalitiesare—British(9),Indians (1),French(2),andOther(1).Thereligiousfaithsofthethirteenemployeesare:Judaism(6),Christianity(4),Islam(1),andOther(2).

Althoughonly13employeeshavecomplainedaboutthedisplayofa“RedSwastika”,Priyastated“theproblemissevereandifanimmediatesolutionisnotreached,itcouldgetoutofcontrol”.Thepracticeofdisplayinga“RedSwastika”iscommontotheBritishandGermanlocationsandhasbeengoingonforover15years.However,shestressestheseriousnessofthedilemmaandemployeecomplaintsinceoneoftheemployeesmakingthecomplaint,aBritishnationalwithJudaismfaith,ismarriedtothesonoftheownerofamajorlocalnewspaper.Also,sheassessesthesituationtobeacompanywideissueandconnectedtothelawsofGermany,Britain,andtheEuropeanUnion.

Afterafewmonths,theissuewasbecomingamajorconcernasfewmoreemployeesjoinedinsupportofthecomplaint.Intheircomplaints,theemployeeshavedemandedthatthecompanyfiretheemployeesdisplayingthe“RedSwastika”,provideanapology(fromCameronMehta)totheemployeesandtheirfamiliesforallowingsuchaconduct,andpassacompanywidepolicy banningtheuseanddisplayofthe“Swastika”in anyform andinanyplaceinthecompany,immediately.

TheChairman

CameronMehta,theChairmanofMehtaInvestmentGroup[MIG]Inc.,hasalwaysworkedforhim-self.Anentrepreneuratheart,hispassionwastostarthisownbusiness.Hehasneverworkedinmanagementpositionsforanycompanynorhashestartedmorethanonebusinessofhisown.HespenthisentirecareerwithMehtaInvestmentGroup[MIG]Inc.CameronMehta is theprimaryreasonof thesuccess ofthecompany,today.HewasraisedinLondon,is59yearsof age,andhas anMBAdegreefromasmall,privateCollegeinLondon,Britain.HisparentsmetinLondonatanIndianfestivalcalledDiwali.HismotherwasanAnglo-GermanChristianandfatherwasanIndianmigratedfromIndiawithHinduismashisreligiousfaith.Camerongrewuptoappreciateboththecultures and religiousfaiths.Also,thenameCameron Mehtais arepresentationofbothAnglo-GermanandIndiancultures.

DuringhispursuitoftheBachelorofBusinessAdministrationdegree,CameronMehta’sperformanceintheclasseswasbelowaverage(equivalenttotheUSeducationsystematorbelowC).Asaresult,oneday,inanargument,Cameronparentstoldhimthat“hewillnotbeasuccessfulpersonunlesshehasthedisciplineanddrivetodosomethingwithhislife”.Theyadded,“Itseemstousthatyouarewastingyourlifeawayalthoughwehaveinstilledthebestvaluesoftwoculturesinyou”.Cameronhadatremendousamountofrespectforhisparentsandsawthemashisheroesandrolemodels.Hewantedtomakethemproud.So,hisparent’swordshurthisfeelingsandhetookthemtoheart.Ononeside,toprovehisparentswrong,andontheotherside,nottodisappointthem,Cameron decided to invest$500 dollarsinthe stockmarket.He hadsavedthis moneyfromthe summerodd jobsasnewspaperdelivery boy,busboy,andawaiter.Hehadaspecialinterest inthestockmarketandoftenusedtolookatthestockpricesinthenewspapereveryweektoseehowcompaniesweredoingwiththeirstockprices.Whiledeliveringthenewspapersatage16,hehadconceivedadreamofbecomingamillionairebybuyingandsellingstocksofdifferentcompaniesbythetimehereachedtheageof30.

CameronMehtaattributeshisandMehtaInvestmentGroup’ssuccesstothevalueshereceivedfromhisparents,whichincludediscipline,hard-work,honesty,loyalty,passion,leadership,family,andreligiousfaith.Heliveshislifebythesevaluesonadailybasis.Forexample,healwaysarrivesatworkat7:30a.m.beforeanyemployeeandstartshisdaywithabriefprayerasperthereligiouspracticesinHinduismandChristianity.Accordingto hisphilosophyand leadership style, employeesarepartofhisextended family.Thus,healwayswantstobeinformedofemployees’professionalaswellaspersonalgrowthandsuccess.

TheChiefExecutiveOfficer

AllysaLiverpool,theCEOofMehtaInvestmentGroup.(aBritishcompany),is50yearsofage.Priortojoiningthecompany,AllysawastheVicePresidentofFinance,DirectorofFinancialOperations,InvestmentAnalyst,FinancialPlanner,andInvestmentBrokerwithnumerousmultinationalcompaniesinFrance,Britain,Germany andSpain.Although aChristian,sherespectspeopleofallfaith fortheirbeliefsandpractices. Although,inherpastexperiences,Allysa’sclientsincludedhighpoweredandinfluentialpeople,shedidnothavetheopportunitytoworkwithemployeeswithvariedreligiousandculturalbackgrounds.Someofherclientswereprominentlawyers,doctors,topexecutives,politicians,parliamentmembers,highlevelgovernmentofficials,andontheForbesTop100RichestPeopleintheWorldfromnumerouscountriesintheEuropeanUnion.Althoughsheisnotincontactwiththemonaregularbasis,herrelationshipswithsomeofthemareverygood.Herpastrelationshipswiththeclients help thecompanyestablishagood imageofthecompanyandpublic relationsstandingwiththepublicandmedia.

Afterthereviewofthecomplaintandpertinentinformation,Allysaconcludedthatthesituationandthecomplaintwasnotaseriousconcernanddidnotneedtobeclassifiedasahighpriority.Asaresult,shedecidedtonotbringtheissuetotheattentionofCameronMehta.SheconsideredCameronMehtatobeverysetinhisways,religiousinhisbeliefs,traditionalinhisvalues,andoldfashionedinhisthinking.ShethoughtthatbriningthecomplainttotheattentionofCameronwillonlymakemattersworsesinceheprobablywouldsupportthereligiouspracticesandfamilyvaluesofhismajorityemployees.SheisconfidentthatshecouldtackletheproblemwithoutgettingCameroninvolvedinthesituation.

VicePresidentofOperations:

PriyaMehta hasaDoctorateinHuman ResourcesManagementfromaprominentIvyLeague UniversityintheUSA.SheisraisedinUSandBritainandis35yearsofage.AtMehtaInvestmentGroup[MIG]Inc.,shehasbeenthe VicePresidentofOperationsforthepast5 years.Priortojoiningthecompany,hercumulativeexperiencesof4yearsincludeDirectorofOperationsandAssistantDirectorofPublicRelationswithprominentcompaniesinUSandBritain. SheisthedaughteroftheChairmanofthecompany. Asherfather,shesharesthevaluesinstilledinherfromherparents.Sheiswellrespectedintheindustryandbytheemployeesathercompanyandmaintainsoutstandingrelations withtheemployeesandhisfather.She regardsher father, Cameron Mehta,ashermentor, rolemodel, and hero, however, oftenhasdisagreedwithher fatheronkeyissuesinthe bestinterestofthe company.SheregardsAllysaLiverpool,theCEOofMehtaInvestmentGroup[MIG],Inc.,tobelessconcernedabouttheemployeesandmorefocusedonthebottomline,i.e.,profitinmonetaryterms.DuetoPriya’sexpertiseinhumanresourcesandunderstandingofthelegalandregulatoryimplicationsrelatedtolaborissues,sheoftenfindsherselfopposingAllysaLiverpoolonmattersrelatedtohumanresourcesatthecompany.

RESEARCHINGTHECOMPLAINT

Inherresearchofthecomplaint,PriyaMehtalearnedthefollowingattheCompanylevel(inclusiveofsubsidiariesatalllocations):

Itwastruethatsomeemployeesweredisplayinga“RedSwastika”thatwasmentionedinthecomplaint.Noone inthecompany wasdisplayingthe“Nazi Swastika”.  IntheHinduism,Buddhism, andJainismreligions,the“RedSwastika”isusedduringmarriageceremonies,religiousprayers,housewarmingparties,grandopeningceremoniesofanewbusiness,NewYearcelebrations,inhomes andtemples,andpaintedon theforeheadofa babyonher/hisfirsthair-cuttingsacrament.Itisviewedasagoodluckcharm.Hindusregard“TheSwastika”inmuchthesamewayasChristiansviewtheCross.

NaziGermanscopiedtheoriginal“swastika”fromHinduismandwithaslightmodification,useditforNazipropaganda.TheHinduswastika facestotheright,unliketheoneadoptedbytheNaziswhichfaces totheleft.Also,theHinduswastikaistraditionallyred,acolorregardedasauspiciousbyHindus,whereastheNaziSwastikaisblack.

TheemployeesdisplayingtheRedSwastika”wereofdifferentnationality,Angloaswellasnon-AnglowiththereligiousfaithofHinduism.

Thetotalnumberofemployeesdisplayingthe“RedSwastika”was60%ofthetotalcompanywork-force.Table2presentsthecompany-widebreakdownbynationalorigin,location,andreligion,ofthoseemployees(60%ofcompanywork-force)displayingthe“Redswastika”.

Priya MehtanotedthatwhenPrinceHarry waspicturedwearing the“Nazi Swastika”,thepeople askedforan apology,which herendered.However,duetothelack of sufficienttimeshedidnotincludespecificinformationpertainingtothelawsoftheEuropeanUnionrelatedtotheemployeecomplaints,butadvisedAllysaLiverpooltoreviewEUlawspriortomakinganydecision.


 

Table 2: Company-Wide EmployeesDisplayingthe“RedSwastika”

NationalOrigin

Location

Religion

Indian

37%

Britain

45%

Hinduism

54%

British

14%

Germany

13%

Judaism

00%

German

08%

France

01%

Christianity

05%

French

00%

Spain

01%

Islam

01%

Other

01%

Other

00%

Other

00%

PositionofEmployeeswithHinduismFaith

The“Red Swastika”display waspartof theritualinabrief prayer accordingtoHinduismreligion andwassymbolicallydrawninredcoloronthephotoofoneoftheGoddesscalledLakshmi—knownastheGoddessofMoney.Employees of Hinduismfaith believeinstarting everydaywith asymbolic ritualandaprayerthatwas oneminutelong.InHinduismthegeneralbeliefisthatdrawinga“Red Swastika”bringsspiritual,mental, andfinancialsuccessand prosperityfor the dayineverythingtheydo, includingbringingnewclientsto thefirm.Itisregardedasthesecondmostsacredsymbolafterthe“Om”andisusedtowardevilspiritanddevotiontoGod.Hinduismistheoldestdocumentedreligionintheworldandthepracticeofdrawingthe“RedSwastika”datesbackto5000years.TheHinduemployeesstatedthattheHinduismreligion,itsritualsandpractices,andthesymbolicuseofswastikahadbeenaroundbeforetheexistenceofwesterncountries,Nazipropaganda,andAdolfHitler.

Accordingtothepeopleof Hinduism,Buddhism, andJainismfaith, thecompanycannotbantheirreligioussymbols,whichhavebeenpartoftheirbeliefs,culture,andreligioustraditionswellbeforetheWesterncultureandcountrieswereborn.TheyremindedPriyaMehtathattheytooarethecitizensofEuropeandhavetherighttopracticetheirreligion.Inaddition,itistheirbeliefthatovertheyears,companyhasbenefitedfromtheirprayers.Theyraisedinterestingquestionsforthecompanyexecutives:Ifthecompanydecidestobanone,willitbanallothersimilarsymbolssuchastheOminHinduism,CrossorJesusFishinChristianity,TheStarofDavidinJudaism,CTR-Choose the RightinMormon,andthe Crescentand Starin Islam?  Wherewillthecompanydrawthelineonwhatisacceptableandwhatisnot?Willthecompanybanthewaycertainemployeesdress?ShouldthecompanybanthedisplayofCrossjustbecausetheKuKluxKlanusedtoburnit?Shouldthecompanybanthedisplayofa"Swastika”justbecausetheNaziuseditforirreprehensiblepurposes?

PositionofEmployeeswithJudaismFaith

A“Swastika”usedbyNaziGermanshasbeenasymbolofatrocitytowardsJewishpeople,inparticular,andtheworld,ingeneral.Adisplayofsuchasymbolisoffensive,insulting,andacommendationofactsofNaziduringthe WWII.Suchamessagefromthe companywillnotbe tolerated.Allnationsandgovernmentsaround theworldhavecondemnedtheactsofNaziGermansandtherepresentationofthe“NaziSwastika”.Also,inordertolearnfromtheHistoryassociatedwiththe“Swastika”companymusttakeproactiveactionsonthisissueandeliminateitsdisplayanduseinitsentiretyfromthework-place.

PositionofEmployeeswithChristianandMuslimFaiths

Employeeswith Christian andMuslim faithdid notprovideanyexplanation forsuchadisplaynordidtheytakeapositioninfavororagainstthedisplayofthe“RedSwastika”bycoworkers.Although,thethirteenemployees that havebrought the complaintforward suspectthat the Christianand Muslim employees are displayingthe“redswastika”toalignthemselveswiththeChairmanandmajorityofHinduemployeesofthecompany.

PositionofEmployeesofEuropeanOrigin

ThenationalismandregionalismisontheriseinEuropeanUnion.Asaresult,severallegislationshavebeenintroducedintheEuropeanUnionParliamenttolegallybantheuseanddisplayofthefollowinginboththepublic andprivateplaces inthe EuropeanCountries:(1)“TheSwastika”,and(2)all religioussymbols.Inaddition,legislationshavebeenintroducedintheBritishParliamenttolegallybantheuseanddisplayof“TheSwastika”inboththepublicand privateplacesinBritain.Theresultsofthevoteonallofthelegislationsarepending.TheymayormaynotgetpassedthroughtheParliament.AccordingtothelawsofGermany,itisillegaltouseordisplaythe“NaziSwastika” anywhereinGermany.In France,it isillegalfor anyonetowearahijab(ascarfcoveringtheheadorface)inpublicplaces.TheFrenchlawdirectlyaffectedthereligiousbeliefsandpracticesofthepeopleofIslam.

PriyaMehtaattachedallofthedetailedresearchinformationassociatedwiththecomplainttohermemorandumforthereviewofAllysaLiverpool,CEOofMehtaInvestmentGroup[MIG],Inc.

Note:                   Toconcealtheidentityandtoprotecttheindividualsandinterestsofthefirm,thenamesofthecompanyandemployeeswerechangedandthestatisticalinformationprovidedbythefirmwasproportionatelymodifiedinthiscasestudy.

Student Instructions:

Prepare a case study addressing the following elements:

1.      Describe the cultural differences, views, values, and organizational culture of Mehta Investment Group (MIG).

2.      Discuss how these cultural differences impact the business practices and employee relations for MIG.

3.      Propose courses of actions as to how to solve the cultural issues presented in the case, fully explaining the process and implementation of the proposed actions.

4.      Determine and recommend the most appropriate course of action, outlining the decision making and reasoning behind chosen recommendation.

 

 

 

 

 

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