Managerial Perspectives on Emotional Intelligence Differences between India and the United States: The Development of Research Propositions

Article excerpt

This paper is a theoretical investigation into the effects of cultural differences on emotional intelligence levels of Americans and Indians working for American firms in the United States. The cultural dimensions defined by Hofstede and the emotional intelligence model conceptualized by Goleman are used to develop propositions about the dimensions of emotional intelligence that might be affected by specific dimensions of the culture of India and United States. Culturally related differences in emotional intelligence are likely to have implications for the management of culturally diverse individuals, especially in certain work contexts. Implications for practicing managers and directions for future research are discussed.

Multinational organizations require a cadre of skilled managers and employees to be effective in their global operations. One competency that has received increased attention and is believed to be important to worker effectiveness is that of emotional intelligence (Kelley & Caplan, 1993; Sosik & Megerian, 1999; Sternberg, 1996). Given the popularity of the emotional intelligence construct in both the academic and practitioner literature and its prominence in many global organizations, little research exists that examines the cross-cultural relevancy of the construct and the implications for the management of culturally related emotional intelligence differences in a culturally diverse workforce (Shipper, 2003). Prior research (Shipper, 2003) indicates that emotional intelligence varies from culture to culture. With the rapid growth in the informational technology sector in the United States, the demand for skilled workers from countries such as India and China continues to increase (Karachiwala, 2000). Estimates indicate that that there are now more than 1.5 million people of Indian origin in the United States, with approximately 72.3% participating in the work force. About 300,000 Indians work in technology firms in California's Silicon Valley (Embassy of India). Furthermore, according to Saxenian (2000), Indians form 15% of Silicon Valley's skilled manpower. The cultural diversification of the workforce makes the need for studying the impact of cultural differences on emotional intelligence important.

This paper is a theoretical investigation of the cultural differences impacting the emotional intelligence of Asian Indians working in American organizations. The paper is divided into four major sections. The first section discusses the cultural differences impacting emotional intelligence based on cultural dimensions of Hofstede (2003). The second section defines and briefly explores the emotional intelligence construct as developed in India and United States. Section three combines the dimensions of culture and emotional intelligence to derive theoretical propositions regarding emotional intelligence differences between Indians and Americans. Finally, section four provides a discussion and implications for management in effectively tapping the emotional competence of its Indian employees in American firms.

India is a typical representative of the classical east culture. The United States is often considered a prototype of the classic western culture. We argue that notable differences in the cultures of India and United States will create differences in the emotional intelligence profiles of members from those cultures. The next section examines cultural differences between the two countries that form the foundation for our propositions.

Cultural Differences Impacting Emotional Intelligence

Hofstede (2003) presents five dimensions to identify and categorize a country's culture. Hofstede reports great differences between the Indian and American cultures on three of these dimensions: power distance, individualism-collectivism, and long-term orientation. We briefly discuss the cultural differences on these three dimensions.

Power Distance Index

Power distance focuses on the degree of equality, or inequality, between people in the country's society. …