Tipped to be one of the world’s largest economies, yet notorious for its diverse and chaotic nature, it is easy to see why those seeking to do business in India can be both intrigued and wary in equal measure. The poor ranking of 100 that the country secures on the ease of doing business index and negative ranking of 130 on the Index of Economic Freedom when contrasted with being the fastest growing G20 economy (expected to see a GDP expansion of 7.4% in 2019) only reinforces the paradoxical nature of doing business in India.

While India shows promise and is progressing into a more open-economy with a large well-educated and committed workforce there are many factors that hold India back and create challenges when doing business in India. Corrupt officials, a poor infrastructure and limiting regulations can all impede business prosperity. The Indian government’s openness to foreign investment has historically been below average despite the desperate need for investment in all sectors in India.

It stands to reason that, while the systems may be difficult to understand and with India brimming with a population of over 1.2 billion cultural generalisations are impossible to make. However, an effort should be made to understand the culture when doing business in India. The legacy of the caste system filters down to today’s largely hierarchical business operations. The boss’ instructions are generally followed without question in India making it necessary to liaise as near to the top of a business as possible.

A predominately relationship-orientated society, family-related topics often figure as topics in meetings. Whilst Western professionals are often conditioned to ‘learn from their mistakes’ viewing failure in a positive light, Indian team-members find negative feedback hard to contend with.

The World Business Culture website consists of helpful insights and practical advice to educate those doing business in India about the customs, cultures, systems and economy to pave the way for successful business ventures in the country poised to make its mark in the global market.


India is notoriously difficult. It scores badly on the ease of doing business index and a lack of investment in infrastructure over the past twenty to thirty years can test even the most seasoned of business travellers. So why bother with India when there are easier potential markets?

We feel you really do need to look at doing business in India for a number of very strong reasons. Firstly, India stands poised to become one of the world’s largest economies over the coming years as economic liberalisation kicks in after decades of political stagnation. It has a population of almost 1.3 billion of which 50% are under the age of 30 and therefore the consumer potential of the country is almost limitless. Secondly, the lack of historical investment in the country means that India needs everything. You cannot point to a sector which is not crying out for investment and new product ideas. Thirdly, and very importantly, India has a highly educated, aspirational workforce who can help you build your business on the ground.
India is the ‘next big thing’ – you really cannot afford to ignore it.

You cannot ignore India but if you want to business in India successfully, you need to understand it. You need to understand the cultural drivers and expectations of the people you will be working with when you get there and you need to understand how that cultural knowledge can help you succeed in-country.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Indian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips