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An estimated 3-minute read

East versus West: philosophy, cultural values and mindset – by Hemant Batra

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Hemant Batra, Lead Partner, Kaden Boriss Legal LLP, India


What makes “the East” different from “the West” and how?

“Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy.”

Following are the major differences found between the east and the west:-

Individualism on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. The west focuses more on individualism whereas for the East, they emphasize on the collective good. The concept of “us”” is very strong in the eastern side. The family is inter-dependent. (Strong concerns and responsibilities for siblings). In the west the concept of strong individualism prevails. Family members are usually independent. You are taught to be self-sufficient so that you could become independent.

In the eastern purview there is Cyclic development, thus improvement has no limits and is an ultimate goal. Whereas in western philosophy there is Linear development, thus improvement has a goal. The development stops when the goal is reached.

Westerners and Asians literally see different worlds. Westerners pay attention to the focal object, while Asians attend more broadly – to the overall surroundings and to the relations between the object and the field. These generalizations seem to hold even though Eastern and Western countries each represent many different cultures and traditions.  

In the east workers are more scared of loosing their jobs (job insecurity). West has much more safety towards their work. In the west the people have their own responsibilities for their specific works. They are basically non- interfering in the work of others. For the East the sense of community is very important, they put great emphasis on human relationship.

East is not that transparent in their thoughts. They are more closed off. West is much more transparent, open and people are more outgoing in nature and in their attitude. 

In context to their managerial skills also they differ. West is much more task specific. While the East is more towards ‘doing more work if required’. Moreover, the management of West is better that the east. In the East one must do more than one’s job description requires one to do. It is one’s responsibility to find additional work within the office. In the West one would normally adhere to job descriptions on the contract.


There exist gaps between eastern culture and western one. Then what should we do to face this gap in the gradually globalizing world?

Firstly, we cannot deny any of the cultures. Every nation has its own characteristics and it’s mainly through its culture that we first begin to know the nation and its characteristics. So we cannot say that this culture or custom is right and that is wrong. Equal respect should be attached to every culture in the world, even to those that are not in existence any more.

Secondly, we should get to learn how to coordinate the different cultures. We say the world is becoming smaller and smaller. More foreigners come and go everyday. When it is in the same country, the same city, the same neighborhood, the cultural collision is expected to be more serious. So we should try to avoid this happening. One important thing is to get some basic knowledge about the other cultures so as not to misunderstand some actions or habits of the foreigners. The co- ordination should be well enough to maintain a balance in the companies with cultural disparities. The communication skills should be well developed and there should be adaptability in the employees. The difference in culture should be moulded in such a way so that it is beneficial for the progress of the company.

Thirdly, we can start to communicate effectively. We can take in some strong points from the foreign cultures. Though there doesn’t exist correctness in terms of culture, it does have the terms of more advanced or more suitable for the world nowadays.

Different cultures add the most colorful element to the world of 21st century. The cultural gap should not be the obstacle to the civilization of human being. It ought to be the motivation of our going farther.

By Hemant Batra, Lead Partner, Kaden Boriss Legal LLP, India; Vice President, SAARCLAW; Chairperson, IICLAM, Singapore; Advisory Board Member, OIC, USA

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