End to culture of bribery sets the example in India

Wipro is not alone among Indian businesses in practicing world-class HR,
sharing that lofty top tier with a select few high-tech companies such as IT
competitor Infosys, according to Sumantra Ghoshal, professor of strategic and
international management at London Business School.

But in Ghoshal’s view, one particular aspect of Wipro’s heritage made the
firm stand out early on within the Indian business community: chairman Azim
Premji’s refusal to offer bribes as part of a rigid corporate adherence to ethics
and integrity. "That point is underplayed," Ghoshal told Personnel
Today.

"This was not just about creating a successful enterprise, but
presented a fundamental challenge to the set of commercial norms.

"When the firm was struggling, Premji adopted a set of values, [which
meant] the company would not indulge in unethical behaviour. At first, this was
a great disadvantage. However, that practice has gradually been spreading, and
the main stimulus was people like Premji."

To an employee, the most often cited corporate value today is integrity.
Almost as legendary at Wipro is the commitment to training and development,
which Ghoshal sees as India’s greatest business strength.

"India’s main competitive advantage is education," said Ghoshal,
who has done considerable research on Indian companies.

Ghoshal points to their recruitment practices as one area that UK companies
could learn from. While UK corporates focus on recruiting from elite
universities, India’s successful software companies have tapped into the
hard-working middle-class graduates who may not have attended the top schools
and colleges.

"Good people come from many different backgrounds," said Ghoshal.
"[Employers should look for] ability to learn."

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