The Global Networks Company (GNC), headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, made its global footprint in India in 1994 by establishing a presence in Bangalore. Although mainly a sales support office, GNC grew name recognition from its contracts with India's government to help build nationwide networks. Not quite 20 years later, GNC decided to further invest in India and tapped a manager from the Boston office, Jim Notrika, to establish and then manage GNC's first global software center in Mumbai. Split between Mumbai and Boston, the project team successfully completed several minor projects, but only months into its first major project, the team was struggling to meet deadlines. Blame was being passed in both directions, and when three talented engineers in Mumbai quit, Notrika makes an emergency trip to Mumbai to better understand the problem.
This case describes three common cross-cultural communication obstacles in teams: a preference for direct versus indirect confrontation of problems; a clash of collectivist versus individualistic cultural values related to reporting bad news or giving negative feedback; and different expectations of team leaders based on power-distance values.