Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Demographic Variables and Ownership of Motor Car

Demographic Variables and Ownership of Motor Car

G.Suryanarayana Reddy and P.Govinda Reddy
Management Matters, Volume 1, Number 2, March 2001
The aim of this research work is to investigate if demographic variables such as family income, occupation of father, occupation of mother, religious affiliation and food habits affect in any significant way the ownership of motor car.
We sampled 300 students pursuing M.B.A. programmes in different colleges affiliated to Madras University for data collection.  A questionnaire was developed and data were collected from these students by administering questionnaire to them.
Ownership of motor car is most affected by family income.  People with family income equal to or greater than five lakh rupees consider motor car as a status symbol.  It is necessary for them to maintain class affiliation with their own group and class differentiation with lower income groups.  Among the religious groups, Christians seem to be fond of owning motor cars.  There is something in the sub-culture of Christians that goads them to own motor cars, which is missing in other religious sub-cultures.  Next dominant demographic response that affects ownership of cars is occupation of father as professionals or businessmen.  People with these two occupations are more prone to own motor cars, than people with service as occupation.  Also, our results point out that people with omnivorous food habits are more likely to buy cars than people with pure vegetarian food habits.   

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Work Value Preferences of Information Technology Professionals in Chennai City

Work Value Preferences of Information Technology Professionals:

A Study in Chennai City

G.Suryanarayana Reddy and P.Govinda Reddy 
Management Matters, Vol.1, No.5, September 2002 

Work value preferences affect job satisfaction and job commitment. Work values are sub set of life values. Life values are intrinsic and enduring perspectives of what is fundamentally right or desirable.  Work values of employees affect corporate culture.  The knowledge of work values of information technology (I.T.) professionals will result in proper design of job attributes and selection process.

To measure work values, 28 constructs have been selected from Konrad et al. (2000). The relevance of each one of these constructs was discussed with five I.T. Professionals and a questionnaire was developed with these 28 items.  Each item is given seven responses with response one indicating “not at all important” and response seven indicating “very much important”.  The questionnaire was administrated to 107 I.T. professionals working in two different companies in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India and data were collected from them in the month of December 2001. 

The scores on the 28 constructs were factor analyzed with varimax rotation.  The factor analysis has condensed 28 constructs into eight orthogonal factors. 

1.      Professional skill development
2.      Authority and status
3.      Congenial social relationships
4.      Facilitating work environment
5.      Travel abroad
6.      Fringe benefits
7.      Job security
8.      Leisureliness in the job

The work value preferences are arranged according to values of means and standard errors. The I.T. professionals have rated the work value of professional skill development as the most important.  The next most important work value to them is job security.  Facilitating work environment, congenial social relationships, authority and status, fringe benefits, leisureliness in job and travel abroad are ordered on the basis of mean importance scores.

Z tests were conducted to test the significance of differences of mean importance scores between eight work values.  The difference in mean scores between the work values of professional skill development and job security is found to be significant at 95% confidence level (Z=3.4).  In addition, Z test indicated that professional skill development score is significantly higher in comparison to the mean scores of all other work values.  Professional skill development represents intrinsic work value.  The other seven work values represent extrinsic values.

Job security is not found to be significantly more important than facilitating work environment
(Z=0.44).  Job security is also not found to be significantly more important than congenial social relations (Z=0.82).  So, we club these three work values, namely, job security, facilitating work environment and congenial social relations as the set of work values which are second most important for the I.T. professionals.

Significant difference was found between the means of the work values of congenial social relations and authority and status (Z=2.2) at 95% confidence level.

There is no significant difference between authority between authority and status and fringe benefits (Z= 1.133).  Authority and status and fringe benefits are considered as third most important work values for the I.T. professionals.

There is no significant difference between the means of fringe benefits and leisureliness in the job (Z=1.979).  So leisureliness in the job is labeled as fourth most important work value.

There is no significant difference between the means of leisureliness in the job and travel abroad
(Z=1.884).  Travel abroad is considered as the least important work value among them.

I.T. companies shall focus on work values that are important for their employees.  Jobs in their organizations shall be designed with attributes that enhance employees’ professional skill development and that give employees job security, facilitating work environment and congenial social relationships.  The companies hall strive to match the important work values of their employees with the job attributes. Organizations shall upgrade their knowledge about the relative importance of their employees’ work values.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Gender differences among public sector bank employees

Gender differences and similarities on the cultural dimension of individualism and collectivism: A study on public sector bank employees

 Shriram Venkatraman and P Govinda Reddy 
Indian Journal of Education and Information Management,
Vol.1, No.2, February, 2012

Though individualism and collectivism are bipolar concepts, Hofstede attempted to quantify the dimension based on an extensive research. This paper strives to follow Hofstede’s survey questions, explore the pattern on the cultural dimension of individualism and collectivism, and investigate if this pattern differs based on gender in a public sector bank environment. It strives to understand this cultural dimension through statistical tests conducted on the data collected from 427 public sector bank employees in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

The questionnaire on individualism and collectivism strives to understand the cultural
orientation of Public sector bank employees. This questionnaire contains four questions specific to traits of individualism and collectivism and has been borrowed from Hofstede’s Value Survey Model 2008. The four questions are in the form of statements with five response choices which are as follows - utmost important, very important, moderate importance, little importance and very little or no importance. The respondents were encouraged to think of an ideal profession, disregarding their present profession.  In choosing an ideal profession, they were asked to select an answer choice for each of the statements based on their perception. The statements are as follows:

a) Have sufficient time for your personal/ home life
b) Have security of employment
c) Do work that is interesting
d) Have a job respected by your family and friends

These questions were borrowed as it was felt that they were relevant for the sample used in this study.

The respondents were 427 Banking professionals belonging to a large public sector
bank. The geography was limited to Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. The survey aimed at getting an easy access to professionals and the professionals were selected through convenience sampling from the ranks of an Officer to that of a Senior Manager, within the Chennai circle of this bank. The demographic factor ‘Age’ was collected as a continuous variable and was then segmented into three categories namely ‘26 yrs to 35 yrs’, ‘36 yrs to 45 yrs’ and ‘46 yrs and above’. In order to identify the gender differences, the data were gathered from both the male and female employees of this bank. The survey was exploratory in nature.  Treating the survey responses as continuous data, statistical analyses were performed on the survey data.

It is worthwhile observing that female respondents score higher than male respondents in their responses to all statements, which makes their average score higher than that of their male counterparts and thus leads to statistical significance.

For a respondent, irrespective of gender, the results calculated through Hofstede’s Value Survey Model methodology reveals that public sector bank employees are Collectivistic in orientation. These results coincide with the results obtained by performing statistical analysis. Further, the data clearly show that females have a slightly higher likelihood of choosing collectivism over individualism. This observation of a higher proportion of females choosing collectivistic orientation over individualism is interesting and worth exploring, given the general perception that India is a collectivistic society and that Indian females are generally collectivistic in thinking compared to that of Indian males. However, as mentioned above it is also interesting to observe that females score higher than males in the statement indicating individualism. Transposing an average respondent’s profile on gender, leads one to assume that both female and male respondents want their jobs to be secured, interesting and give enough amount of personal time. However, a female respondent wants her job to be respected by people around her than her male counterpart. Though, the authors feel that these results cannot be extrapolated to represent a country, it nevertheless represents, the attitude of that particular public sector bank employees in Chennai, India. Although, scope for future research exists in terms of performing the same research on private bank employees and performing a comparative study of the attitude of the two groups, this survey can definitely be extended to several other industries as well.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Brand Preference of Motorbikes

Brand Preference of Motorbikes: A Study on Student Segment.

G.Suryanarayana Reddy and P.Govinda Reddy
The Geographic Teachers, India, Vol.5, No.1, 1998/1999,
The student segment is the most important for the two wheeler industry.  It is at the student stage, they first buy and use a brand and this encounter may influence them at later stages.  It is important to understand what factors the students’ value and weigh most in purchasing different brands.  This information will help in proper product positioning for this segment.
A sample of 40 male students in the University of Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India was selected. They were in the age group of 20 -24 years.  All of them were familiar with different brands of motorbikes.  We have developed a set of 19 constructs and added the key construct “purchasability of the brand” to these constructs to form a questionnaire.
In the questionnaire each construct was given 7 possible responses one representing “far worse than competing brands” and response seven representing “far better than competing brands”.  Each respondent was given one questionnaire at a time and asked to write the name of a brand of motorbike on the top of the questionnaire and evaluate the constructs on the brand.  We have selected five brands of motorbikes – Suzuki Samurai, Kawasaki Bajaj 125, Hero Honda Splendor,  Hero Honda CD 100ss and Yamaha RXG.  Each respondent answered five questionnaires.  So we collected 40x5= 200 questionnaires.
These questionnaires were stored on the basis of brands of motorbikes. For each brand, we had 40 questionnaires.  These scores of 40 respondents on each of the 20 constructs, we got a data matrix with 20(No. of constructs) x 5 (No. of brands) items. The data were factor analyzed to condense 20 constructs by the method of principal components with Vari Max Rotation.  SPSS package was used for this.
The factor analysis has given rise to four factors. Factor loadings less than 0.6 are ignored in the analysis.  Factor one seems to represent easy maintenance on the vehicle and horse power.  Factor two represents price.  Factor three can be described as representing safety in driving.  Factor four can be called as representing comfort and look.
We have totaled the scored of all the respondents on all constructs having significant loadings in each of the factors and arrived at the average score per respondent by dividing the total by the number of respondents.  The maximum range of these average scores is 1 to 7.
On factor one, the maximum average score is for Suzuki Samurai and least score is for Hero Honda CD 100ss.  The respondents considered Suzuki Samurai as the best and Hero Honda CD 100ss as the worst on maintenance and horse power.  On price factor they considered Suzuki Samurai as the best and Yamaha RXG as the worst. On safety, the respondents ranked Kawasaki Bajaj 125 as the best and Suzuki Samurai as the worst. On comfort and look, the respondents considered Yamaha RXG and Hero Honda Splendor as the best and Hero Honda CD 100ss as the worst.
The study indicates that the primary constructs the student segment considers in making brand selection of motorbikes are the price of the brand and the mileage it gives.  These constructs are pivotal in determining the product positioning strategies for the student segment.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Study on Brand Selection of Ready Made Shirts

Brand Selection of Ready Made Shirts:  A study among the University students

G.Suryanarayana Reddy and P.Govinda Reddy

SRM Management Digest. Vol.1, No.1, December 2000. 

Market segmentation and product positioning are closely related.  When market segmentation is done on demographic variables, it is necessary to do market research in order to understand the preferences of the segmented group.  The target group selected for this study is 40 students (boys) in the age group of 20 to 24 years pursuing master’s degree in the University of Madras.  All of them are familiar with different brands of Ready Made Shirts in the market and they have been wearing shirts of one or more of these brands.  The aim of the study is to find out inter-relationships between different psychographic constructs relevant in the brand selection decisions of Ready Made Shirts.  Six brands of Ready Made Shirts are selected for the study.  They are Arrow, Allen Solly, Louis Philippe, Park Avenue, Peter England and Van Heusen.  Each one of these students is asked to write down independently the possible variables that affect their brand selection of shirts. 
Total number of questionnaires answered are 40 (Number of respondents) X 6 (Number of brands) = 240.  The data matrix is factor analyzed with principal components on the constructs and on the barnds.  Varimax rotation is used.
23 attributes of Ready Made Branded Shirts as possible means for inter brand comparisons and brand selections are developed.  The analysis narrowed down just to two attributes out of these 23 attributes that are most important in brand selection and purchase decisions of Ready Made Shirts by university students.  These two attributes are “Making them look attractive to girls” and “They are fashionable to wear”.  If the Ready Made Shirt manufacturers were to be successful in targeting the segment of university students, their marketing mix decisions ought to be based on “Making them look attractive to girls” and “Being fashionable”.  The design of the product shall meet these requirements. Advertisement themes must be focused on these attributes.  Distribution and pricing decisions shall confirm to the concept inherent in these attributes.
The factor analysis on brands indicated that the university students consider Louis Philippe as closest substitute to Allen Solly and Van Heusen is closest substitute of Arrow.  They consider Peter England as very different brand from the other five brands.  This indicates the nature of competitive structure in Branded Ready Made Shirt market.   

Study on Durable Goods and Brands

Study of on Durable Goods and Brands: A Study of Chennai College Students About Their Familial Preferences

 G.Suryanarayana Reddy and P. Govinda Reddy (2001)
  UGC Minor Research Project

            Data regarding familial preferences about durable goods and brands have been collected from 300 students belonging to different colleges in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India in the year 1999. The data pertaining to the ownership pattern of Motor Car, Air Conditioner, Micro-oven, Cell/Mobile phone, Personal Computer and Washing Machine among the families of these 300 students have been analysed.  The findings of the study are as follows:

Durable Goods:

Motor cars
35 percent of the respondents owned motor cars.  The best discriminator of the ownership of motor cars is family income greater than five lakh rupees.  79 percent of this group own motor cars.  The next best discriminator for the ownership of motor cars is religious affiliation as Christians.  56 percent of Christians in the sample own motor cars.  The next important discriminator is professional women as 52 percent of them own cars.

Air conditioners
23.3 percent of the sample respondents own air-conditioners.  The best discriminator for the ownership of air-conditioners is family income being greater than 5 lakh rupees. 57 percent of the respondents in this income group own air-conditioners.  The next best discriminator is professional women of whom 40 percent own air-conditioners.

Micro ovens
            14 percent of the respondents own micro-ovens.  The best discriminator for the ownership of micro-ovens is religious affiliation as Christians.  29 percent of Christian respondents own micro-ovens. The next best discriminator is professional women.  26 percent of the professional women own micro-ovens.  Income effect is found to be negligible in the ownership of micro-oven.

Cell/Mobile phones
            Among the products that have been selected in this work, cell/mobile phones are least owned at that point of time.  Only 13.3 percent of the respondents owned cell/mobile phones.  The best discriminator for this product is religious affiliation as Muslims.  27 percent of the Muslim respondents own cell/mobile phones.  The next best discriminators are family income being greater than 5 lakh rupees and professional women.  26.2 percent of  the respondents with family income greater than 5 lakh rupees and 26 percent of professional women respectively own cell/mobile phones.

Personal Computers
            27 percent of the respondents own personal computer.  The best discriminators for this product are family income grater than 5 lakh rupees and family income between 3 to 5 lakh rupees.  43 percent and 38 percent of the respondents in these groups respectively own the personal computers.  37 percent of the professional women own personal computers. 33 percent of the respondents with vegetarian food habits own personal computers.

Washing Machines
            Among the products that have been considered for this survey, washing machine is the most popular product.  56.7 percent of the sample own washing machines.  The most important discriminators for the ownership of washing machines are occupation of mother as service, religious affiliation as Christians and income between 3 to 5 lakh rupees.  75 percent of the respondents in each of these groups respectively own washing machines.  There is negative income effect for the ownership of washing machine for the group with income greater than 5 lakh rupees.  Only 71.4 percent of this group own washing machines.

Brand selection of Durable Goods:

Motor cars
The motor cars have been classified into three varieties on the basis of the internal space available in the car.  Compact car Brand (Maruti- 800, Zen, Santro, Fiat Uno and Tata Indica), Mid-size car Brand (Premier Padmini, Ambassador, Fiat Sienna) and Luxury car brands (Tata Sierra, Tata Safari, Ciello and Maruti Omni).  This classification has no relationship to the price of the car. 
45.1 percent of business men own mid-sized cars while 43.5 percent of professionals own compact cars.  Men in service are equally divided with 35.5 percent own compact cars and another 35.3 percent own mid-sized cars.  Professional men seem to be more fond of compact cars, while business men seem to be more fond of mid-sized cars.
 39 percent of house wives own mid-sized cars while 42.8 percent of professional women have mid-sized cars.  Very few women in service own cars.  
44.4 percent of Christians own mid-sized cars while 40.8 percent of Hindus own mid-sized cars. 
43 percent of non-vegetarian respondents own mid-sized cars while 42.1 percent of the respondents with vegetarian diet own mid-sized cars. 
48.5 percent of respondents with income greater than 5 lakh rupees own mid-sized cars.  The respondents with income 3-5 lakh rupees and with income 2-3 lakh rupees are alike with 41.4 percent in each group own compact cars. 57.1 percent of respondents with income less than 2 lakhs prefer mid-sized cars.  In the income range of 2 to 5 lakh rupees compact cars seem to be popular.  For others midsized cars seem to be popular.
Air conditioners
The brands for air conditioners are classified as Amtrex, Hitachi, Godrej and others in this study.
Among professional women, Godrej brand of air-conditioners seem to be popular as 27.3 percent of them opt for it.  Among other categories significant brand differences is not seen.
42.8 percent of Muslims use Godrej air-conditioners while 26.7 percent of Christian respondents have Godrej air conditioners. Significant brand preference of air conditioners is not seen among the Hindus.
33.3 percent of vegetarian respondents own Godrej air conditioners while 14.6 percent of respondents with non-vegetarian food habits have Godrej brand of air conditioners.  Air conditioner brands selections are not affected by food habits.
72.7 percent of the lowest income group respondents own less popular brands or assembled air conditioners.  Income group between 2-3 lakhs is also similar with 79 percent of them buying popular brands or assembled sets.  The respondents with income greater than 5 lakhs are also opting for less known brands or assembled units to the extent of 67 percent.  Only the respondents belonging to 3-5 lakhs seem to go far brands.  21 percent of them are having Godrej brand of air conditioners.
Micro ovens
The brands for micro ovens are classified as; Philips, Kenstar, BPL and others.
66.6 percent of men in service go for Kenstar brand of micro ovens.  42.1 percent of businessmen using micro ovens have BPL brand.  33.4 percent of professional men have micro ovens with BPL brand.  People in service are cautious.  They are more interested in savings and riskless investments.  Occasionally when they decide to purchase luxurious products, they opt for well known brands or proven brands from the experience of their own colleagues whom they can trust.  Cautiousness may be emanating due to lack of self confidence in them.  On the other hand businessmen and professional tend to be more self confident and so opt for risky decisions.  Their own convictions are more important than experiences of their friends and colleagues.  More variability has been noticed for businessmen and professional men in choosing the brands of micro ovens.  It looks like they are more individualistic.
60 percent of women in service go for Kenstar brand of micro ovens while 42.8 percent of professional women go far BPL brand of micro ovens.  Micro oven may be considered as women’s product.  In many households, the decision makers are the women in the house.  Variability for the house wife seems to be higher than that of other groups.  Housewives represent leisure class more than other groups.  They have time to socialize more.  They meet different people and shop around more.  They are exposed to variety of information about different bands.  This may give rise to more variability in their brand selections.
Cell/Mobile phones
The brands for cell/mobile are classified as; Skycell, Ericson, Nokia and others.
Nokia seem to be popular across all income groups.  62.5 percent of professional men, who use cell phones, have Nokia brand.  The corresponding percentage for men in service and business men is 50%.
Occupation of father does not seem to have any effect on cell phone brand selection.
57.1 percent of professional women who have cell phones are using Nokia brand.  51.7 percent of house wives own cell phones of Nokia brand. Only two respondents whose mothers are in service and who are using cell phones are using Ericson brand.
52 percent of Hindu respondents who use cell phones use the brand of Nokia.  The corresponding figures for Muslims and Christians are 50 percent and 37.5 percent respectively.  There is no effect of religious affiliation on band selection.
48.6 percent of non vegetarian respondents having cell phones use Nokia brand while 40 percent of the vegetarian respondents use Nokia brand.   No effect of food habits is seen on cell phone brand selection.
Popular brand across all income groups appear to be Nokia. 45.5% of respondents with income greater than 5 lakhs who cell phones have Nokia brand.  The figures for the other income groups (3-5 lakhs, 2-3 lakhs and less than 2 lakhs) is 50 percent, 50 percent and 40 percent respectively.  There is no income effect on brand selection of cell phones.
Personal Computers
The brands for personal computers are classifies as; HCL, H.P, Compaq, IBM, assembled and others.
61.9 percent of men in service having computers have assembled personal computers, while the percentage of business men buying assembled personal computers is 50 percent. 
53 percent of house wives, who have computers, have assembled computers.  46.1% of women in service have assembled personal computers while he number for professional women it is 20 percent.
52.5 percent of Hindu respondents who have computers have assembled sets.  40 percent of Muslims have assembled sets.  26.8 percent of Christians have Compaq brand of computers.
48.1 percent of respondents with vegetarian food habits and 46.6 percent of respondents with non vegetarian food habits are having assembled personal computers.  There is no effect of food habits on the selection of personal computers.
44.4 percent of respondents with income greater than 5 lakhs of rupees have assembled personal computers.  56.6 percent of the respondents with income between 3-5 lakh rupees own assembled personal computers.  42.9 percent of respondents with income between 2-3 lakhs of rupees and 31.6 percent of respondents with less than 2 lakhs of rupees income go for assembled personal computers.  There is no income effect on the selection of personal computer brands.
Washing Machines
The brands for washing machines are classified as; Whirlpool, BPL, Videocon and others.
38.5 percent of men in service who own washing machines are using Videocon brand while 37 percent of professional men own washing machines are using Videocon brand.  Professional men seem to like BPL brand next to Videocon brand of washing machines.  Men in service also give second preference to BPL brand of washing machines.  Business men do not seem to be uniform in their brand selection.  They almost equally like whirlpool, BPL and Videocon of washing machines.   Many of them (33.3%) are using other brands.  Professional men and men in service prefer Videocon washing machine significantly more than business men.  Less variance is seen among professionals and in service persons compared to businessmen on washing machine brand selection.   This may be due to the fact that professional and service people often meet together and discuss about what brands are the best in the market.  This social communication may be the reason for the low variance.  Business men may be working more independently and they may meet very few businessmen and they may not discuss brand selection topics among them.
43.8 percent of professional women who own washing machines are having BPL brand washing machines.  42.4 percent of women in service using washing machines are having Videocon washing machines.   26.6 percent of housewives having washing machines own Videocon washing machines.  Variability in brand selection seems to be highest among housewives.  Women in service prefer Videocon washing machine more significantly in comparison to housewives.  Housewives seem to be more variant in their brand selection.    They have got more free time.  They may not simply follow opinion leaders.  They may meet more opinion leaders and finally use their own discretion.  Women in service do not have much time for brand selection.  They just follow an opinion leader’s service, in their brand selection, without any analytical processing.
33.6 percent of Hindus owning washing machines are having Videocon washing machines.  30.55 percent of Christians and 30.8 percent of Muslims who are having washing machines are respectively having BPL brand of washing machines.
35 percent of the respondents with vegetarian food habits, who are using washing machines are having Videocon brand of washing machines.  27.7 percent of respondents with non vegetarian food habits own Videocon washing machines. 23.1 percent of respondents with non vegetarian food habits have BPL brand of washing machines.  Vegetarians and non vegetarians do not differ significantly on preference towards Videocon washing machines.
30 percent of the respondents with income greater than 5 lakhs of rupees, who are using washing machines are having Videocon brand of washing machines.  28.9 percent of the respondents with income in the range of 3-5 laks are having BPL brand of washing machines.  27 percent of the respondents with income in between 2-3 lakhs of rupees and 34.9 percent of the respondents with income less than 2 lakhs of rupees have Videocon brand of washing machines.  The income groups from 3 to 5 lakhs of rupees seem to differ from other income groups in that it mostly prefer s BPL brand.  Income effect does not seem to be operating on brand choice.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Individualism and Collectivism

Individualism Vs. Collectivism: A Study on Students. 

G.Suryanarayana Reddy and P.Govinda Reddy
Management Matters, Vol.1, Issue 2, March-August 2004
A questionnaire was prepared by using seven constructs for measuring individualism and eight constructs for measuring collectivism from Oyserman et al. 2002.  Each item was given seven responses with response one indicating “not at all characteristic of me” and response seven indicating “completely characteristic of me”.  The questionnaire was administered to 100 M.B.A. students of Madras University, Chennai, India in the year 2003.
The factor analysis had given rise to six rotated factors: Group orientation, achievement orientation, in-group harmony, collectivist conscientiousness, distinctiveness of private and public spaces and autonomy.  Three represent individualistic characteristics and the other three represent collectivist orientations.  As they are orthogonal, any one of these orientations can be developed independent of others.  One type of orientation among these six factors can not assist or hinder any other orientation. 
The present study points out that a sample from Chennai based M.B.A. students showing the characteristic of individualistic cultural domains.  This study also points out that each of these concepts consists of different orthogonal domains.  As traditional societies become more and more modern, individualism and collectivism will become too broad concepts to differentiate national cultures.  Narrower domains need to be developed to differentiate national cultures and even sub-cultures within a nation.  

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Dental Anthropology

Fluctuating Asymmetry in Root Number and Morphology of Permanent Premolars and Molars—Case Reports

Anand Sherwood and Govinda Reddy
  Dental Anthropology, 24 (1): 16-24, 2011. 
Aim of this article is to report cases with fluctuating asymmetry in root morphology and root number in permanent premolars. Fluctuating asymmetry is a left-right asymmetry of a paired structure that is usually symmetrical. Teeth in corresponding quadrants of the upper and lower jaws are normally symmetrical structures that exhibit mirror imagery. Fluctuating asymmetry does occur at varying levels for all root traits. Fluctuating asymmetry for root morphology and number has been poorly studied. In this article, cases with fluctuating asymmetry in root number and morphology of permanent premolars and molars are reported. Key points are: (1) Fluctuating asymmetry seems to be occurring in Tamil speaking population of Madurai South India more frequently than reported for Caucasian populations. (2) More detailed study of variation in root morphology with greater emphasis on fluctuating asymmetry for root morphology is warranted. 3) Fluctuating asymmetry is of importance to clinical dentists, dental morphologists, and dental anthropologists.
The present cases highlight the importance of the clinician and researcher to understand this phenotypic variation. A total of 21 cases are described exhibiting macroscopic fluctuating asymmetry in root number and morphology of permanent premolars and molars. This report describes four mandibular second premolars with extra roots, seven mandibular first molars with extra roots, four mandibular second molars with C-shaped roots, two mandibular second molars with extra roots, three mandibular third molars with extra roots, and one maxillary second molar with extra root configurations.
From the case reports presented here it is seen that for the Tamil speaking population group in Madurai, South India, fluctuating asymmetry is occurring for various types of root aberrations in permanent premolars and molars.
Fluctuating asymmetry in root aberrations will be of importance to clinical dentists, dental anthropologists and dental morphologists.
A more detailed study on the incidence of root aberrations in permanent premolars and molars of local population group is necessary with greater emphasis on occurrence of fluctuating asymmetry for root aberrations.

Sam Walton’s Rules of Business and Cultural Dimensions of Hofstede and Trompenaars

Sam Walton’s Rules of Business and Cultural Dimensions of Hofstede and Trompenaars


 Shriram Venkatraman, G.V. Suresh and P.Govinda Reddy

Proceedings of First International Conference on Business Anthropology which was held during May 17-20, 2012 at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China, edited by Confeence Committee, Pp.155-171.
Several social sciences and management experts give credence to the fact that the culture of an organization is influenced to a large extent by its founder or leader, who is mostly an entrepreneur in a Business environment.  The founder/leader/entrepreneur in turn can be influenced by the society’s culture that he/she lives in. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., as a retailer tops the list of fortune 500 companies. Though, giant in size, execution and revenues, it portrays a quality that still follows the legacy and the culture built by its founder Mr. Sam Walton. His list of ten rules for a successful business is still followed religiously at Wal-Mart and is also a motivator to several developing entrepreneurs. The rules laid down by Mr. Sam Walton are Commit to your business, Share your profits, Motivate your partners, Communicate everything possible, Appreciate everything, Celebrate success and find humor in your failures, Listen to everyone, Exceed your customers’ expectations, Control your expenses and Swim upstream. Though the rules/ideas might not be conceptually new, they are appreciated because of the person from whom it flows. As Sam Walton himself says in his biography ‘Made in America’, the rules he put forth have originated from his empirical experience, where each of these rules have been personally tried and tested over time by him.

Albeit understanding a society’s culture was made simple with the introduction of Cultural Dimensions by Social Scientists like Hofstede and Trompenaars, it will be interesting to examine the business rules followed by Wal-Mart against these cultural dimensions.  However, this paper builds on the cultural model for entrepreneurship developed by Lee and Peterson (2000), which focuses on the dimensions introduced by Hofstede and those of Trompenaars.  This paper explores the ten Rules of Sam Walton and discusses these rules in the light of   the cultural dimensions of Hofstede and Trompenaars.
Lee and Peterson’s work forms the basis of the cultural dimensions of Hofstede and Trompenaars for a successful entrepreneurial environment, which is once again correlated with the Cultural dimensions of United States. The paper evidenced the correlation of Sam Walton – a very successful entrepreneur’s values and ideals with the cultural model of entrepreneurship of Lee and Peterson.
A conducive entrepreneurship environment according to Lee and Peterson’s cultural model of entrepreneurship created by the entrepreneur as a leader would be to maintain a Weak Uncertainty Avoidance, Low Power Distance, High Levels of Masculinity, Individualistic, Achievement oriented and Universalistic in approach.   
When Sam Walton’s Business Rules are fitted with both Lee and Peterson’s cultural model of entrepreneurship and a Rule by Rule approach to see its fit with the dimensions of Hofstede and Trompenaars, one gets to witness that for a conducive entrepreneurship environment created by the entrepreneur as a leader would be to maintain a Weak Uncertainty Avoidance, Low Power Distance, a balance between Masculinity and Feminity, a balance between Individualism and Collectivism, be Achievement oriented and Universalistic in approach. An undercurrent of the dimension of Internal Control that needs to be exerted by an entrepreneur is also visible.
It also becomes interesting to note that though Sam Walton exerts certain aspects to fit in with Feminity or Collectivism, it also has an undercurrent of a strategy that finally aims to outdo the competition, which can be a very Masculine characteristic. Similarly is the case with Collectivism too. His rules thus, very clearly say that one needs to have qualities of Feminity and Collectivism, but at the same time, not lose the big picture, that business is competition.
In view of this, studies such as this show that branding National Cultures as the culture of people of that specific nation, need not work always. Though, United States of America is typically called as a Masculinity oriented, Individualistic culture, Sam Walton’s moderation in these dimensions show otherwise. He is very American (even his book is called “Made in America”), however, not all his thoughts and values reflect a Masculine oriented Individualistic culture. Individual case studies of leaders with influence such as Sam Walton might reflect and repose a better understanding of National Cultures.
This exercise is an attempt at showing that individual level case studies of values and ideals of successful entrepreneurs, can throw immense light on the true nature of cultural dimensions. Further, these dimensions might change on a case by case basis. The values and the cultural dimensional fit of the values of a first generation entrepreneur, as compared to a Chief Executive or to a second generation owner of family business might be different. This is also a step towards understanding that “One Size Does Not Fit All”.
The study is a step in striving to understand analytically the values of a successful entrepreneur in terms of cultural dimensions and conducive entrepreneurial environment; however, empirical evidence might be needed to understand this further.
Such studies with entrepreneurial values of successful entrepreneurs in growing economies like India and China need to occur more often to understand the cultural systems of these countries much better. As emerging economies, attracting international attention, there is an urgent need to conduct research into the values and ideals of successful entrepreneurs belonging to these countries and quantify them through cultural dimensions in order to gauge the changes in cultural value systems and understand the effect of globalization in these economies. This can also provide an understanding of the direction that these economies are heading towards.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Individualism and Collectivism

The Study of G.Suryanarayana Reddy and P.Govinda Reddy (2000) on Individualism and Collectivism

By using Fons Trompenaars (1994) questionnaire Reddy and Reddy collected data from 120 students pursuing Master’s programmes in different subjects in the University of Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India in the year 2000.  Out of the sample of 120 students, 65 (54%) have indicated individualism whereas 55 (46%) have indicated collectivism.  Majority of males (66.7%) showed tendency towards individualism whereas majority of females (66.7%) showed tendency towards collectivism. Through Chi square test they found that male students are significantly individualism oriented and female students are significantly collectivism oriented (Reddy and Reddy, 2000).

Friday, 18 May 2012

Consumption of branded soap products among the Kani Tribe of Tamil Nadu, India


Consumption of Branded Soap Products: A Study among the Kani Tribe of Chinna Mylaru Kani Settlement, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India

        Shriram Venkataraman, S. Sumathi and P.Govinda Reddy 

Proceedings of First International Conference on Business Anthropology which was held during May 17-20, 2012 at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China, edited by Conference Committee,  Pp.132-144.

Man is a social creature and cannot live in total isolation. “Social”, here, is the process of drawing inspiration, motivation, influence and in turn inspiring, motivating and influencing others belonging to a group. This is of high intensity when the social group is small. However, with globalization, the entire world is in the process of becoming a closely knit social group. Visible streaks of this social process are evident not only in urban settlements but also in rural/tribal settlements. A factor that makes it very evident is the consumption of branded globalized/localized consumer goods, by the Kani tribe of Tamil Nadu, India.  

A research into their culture and lifestyle enlightens one with tremendous data on their consumption of branded products of FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) companies, specifically soaps. This paper allows one to understand and analyze their selection and consumption patterns of branded soaps, influence networks, brand loyalty, consumption style and external factors such as advertisement and availability which influence consumption of certain soaps. This paper also strives to correlate on how culture influences all of this.

It becomes very evident that more than half of the sampled households preferred using Medimix as a brand, followed by Hamam, Lux, Chandrika and Life Buoy soaps. Though surprising, it is evident that washing soap brands such as Vairam and Sarvodaya are also used as toilet soaps by approximately 14 percent of the sampled households. 

There were a few patterns that stood out in this choice of soaps. The most preferred brands, at least the top two, were medicinal soaps. Similarly, Chandrika soap which occupies the fourth position in the choice of soaps is also a medicinal soap. Life Buoy occupying the fifth position can be termed as Health soap. A very clear pattern that emerges out of this choice of soaps is that out of the five brands of soaps preferred by the Kani Tribe, four of them are related to Health and Medicine. The odd one out, might be Lux, premium brand luxury soap. Though some of these consumers claim Lux as helping them reduce acnes and pimples, there is a general thought process that Lux is majorly a non-medicinal soap. However, it becomes necessary to understand how Lux as a premium brand of soap, captures a place for itself in the list of medicinal soaps. It also becomes imperative to understand as to why is their choice of soaps limited to medicinal soaps? Another interesting aspect that needs to be understood is their choice of washing soaps as bathing soaps.  As, an understanding of the non-consumers of toilet soaps was also necessary, a series of interviews with them revealed that they were using herbal remedies instead of soaps.   

However, a very interesting fact that was revealed in the use of Lux as a brand by younger women was that, a section of its young women consumers were married and had infants or very young children at home. The interviews with the shop keepers also revealed that the consumption of Lux soap increased when families witnessed birth of a child.  The interview with the young mothers revealed that Lux was used by them not only as toilet soap, but also to wash their infants clothes when they were being breast fed. They particularly spoke about two very specific attributes that stood out in Lux as a choice for these young mothers, which were its perfume and softness.

When questioned about the use of Vairam/Sarvodaya, brands of washing soaps for personal use as toilet soaps, the older women revealed that they called it “Uppu Soap” meaning Soap with Salt content, for a reason. They reasoned that if the washing soap removed stains from the clothes, they should definitely be able to remove dirt from human body.

Their consumption pattern revealed a very particular attribute that stood out in their use of two varieties of soaps namely Lux and Vairam/Sarvodaya was the reversal of the roles of Toilet Soaps and Washing Soaps. Though present in a few families, it was a very interesting trend that was observed.

An aspect that assumed significance, during interviews, was the level of Loyalty that the Kani consumers of toilet soaps showed towards their preferred brand. During interviews with Shop keepers, it became very evident that Kani tribe was very loyal to the brand that they were consuming. The shop keepers revealed that just in case the brand of soap that a particular Kani consumer preferred was not available, the consumer never chooses an alternative, even if recommended by the shop keeper. He/she preferred to wait for the stock of the particular brand to arrive, rather than choosing another brand. Else, they preferred to go down to the plains to buy the brand of their choice instead of settling for an alternate brand. A very surprising fact that was revealed when presented with a case of non-availability of their preferred brand of soap was that, they were even ready to bathe without their preferred brand (in times of non-availability) rather than settle down for an alternate brand.

The interviews with the consumers revealed that there was a very strong pattern of not compromising their choices, if they had already settled for a brand or were satisfied with a particular brand of soap. When questioned on whether they were open or would ever try or test another brand just to experiment with it, most answered they would, however with a claim that they would get back to their brand after experimenting with the newer brand. An interesting fact, that came across was that if they were convinced to experiment with a new brand, they would give it a chance (at the most two times), before which they should be convinced with it to be used more often, else they would revert back to their earlier brand. However, convincing them to even experiment a new brand requires influence through key networks. 

There are several factors that play a major role in influencing the Kani to select a particular brand of soap, which was again revealed through in-depth interviews and focus group discussion sessions conducted with them. The factors that mostly influence the Kani can be better understood from a historical point of view

In the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s there were religious missionaries who selected some of the Kani children to be educated in schools in towns away from the Kani settlement, these children have since gone on to be employed in towns and cities away from the Kani settlement, and were exposed to increasing urbanization. Thus being exposed to branded soaps was natural. Further, advertisements and their non-Kani friends’ network also played a role. When these Kanis visited their native place, the Chinna Mylaru Kani settlement, they in turn brought these soaps back as gifts and also for their use, which in turn has influenced their kin back home.

Similarly, after 1991 (post liberalization in India), they were offered jobs in Government sectors, specifically in the forest departments, which ensured that they sometimes were transferred to different areas (both on promotion and as a rule in the Government departments ensuring staff mobility). This again influenced their exposure to branded soaps. Further, advertisements and their non-Kani friends’ network also played a role. The members of the Kani tribe who have had this exposure seem to have influenced their kin back home at the Chinna Mylaru Kani settlement. Also, the Tiger reserves/forest departments where they are employed as forest guards, night watchers even in their own area (Mundanthurai Tiger reserve), also employs non-Kani staff. These non-Kani colleagues of the Kani have also played an influential role in their choice of consumer products, soaps being one of them.

Further, they act as research assistants to several researchers from India and abroad in their research of the forest areas. Their relationship with these researchers and their use of consumer products also has influenced the choice of soaps.

The Karaiyar and Servalar dams, which have become major tourist spots in the Tirunelveli district, have attracted thousands of tourists to these areas. The Chinna Mylaru Kani settlement is at close proximity to these areas and thus the influence of tourists is natural. Further, the waterfalls in this region, is a famous pilgrimage/tourist destination. It also houses facilities for bathing. The Kanis’ observation of different brands of soaps used by the pilgrims and the tourists in these areas, are influential factors for choice of soaps.

Their increased level of importance to education has pushed them to attend schools, where even non-Kanis study. Further, the teachers are also non-Kanis. The Kani students have hostels in these residential schools, which again increases their exposure to certain soap brands, that they come back and tell their parents and other kin. The school in this Kani area has non-Kani teachers who stress the value of cleanliness and use of soap brands such as Hamam/Medimix. Similarly, the bi-weekly or sometimes the monthly visit of the doctors of the Primary Health centers, through their mobile hospital initiative, to these schools, have also increased the awareness of using medicinal soaps. The doctors and teachers seem to influence them the most on using medicinal soaps such as Medimix, Hamam and Chandrika; very specifically Medimix and Hamam. Distribution of free samples of these soaps has also played a major role in this regard.

A very interesting aspect that was evident in the influential factors of the Kani was that they pay high levels of respect to education and experts. They rely on their children who are being educated and exposed to urbanization to let them know things happening in the outside world. The discussions with the older generation revealed a reverse influential process, where the older generation was no longer influencing the younger generation, but, the younger generation was influencing the older generation. Discussions with the older generation revealed that they are willing to test and experiment with anything that their youngsters recommend.

The influence of media should definitely not be downplayed, though they do not have electricity provided by the government, they do have some facilities to generate electricity through solar power, though this is not stable or does not come for a longer period of time. They do have television sets, provided free of cost by the earlier Tamil Nadu government as a part of the vote bank politics. However, lack of electricity ensures that their TV watching habits are very less, at least by the older generation. However, the younger generation watches movies coming down to the plains. They watch advertisements with a keen interest. Battery operated radios are commonly used and the advertisements are heard with an interest. Local newspapers and magazines are bought by some of them and are read with an interest. They do accept that they are influenced by the advertisements, though, they discuss them with their own peer groups (women with women, older men with older men and youngsters with their peer group), and they do not buy everything they see. Sometimes, they wait for one of their peers to experiment with it, and wait for recommendations to try, before they invest on it.

A very strong undercurrent that was very evident is that, they all know that they are a community of doctors, who practice Ayurveda/ Siddha medicine. Therefore, this sense of medicine prevails in their selection of soaps too. They make it evident that they pay more attention to the medicinal qualities in soap and see if the soap is health soap before they purchase it. In case, one of their children has a skin problem, their sense of medicine prevails and immediately, they also get recommended by their peer group to try an ayurvedic/medicinal soap to cure the problem. If it works, they stick on to the soap. Even the use of Lux as washing soap, reveals that the softness of the soap does not cause irritation in the clothes of the infant, thus causing rashes in the new born/infant. Everything gets connected back to their sense of medicine. Finally, it’s their undercurrent culture of belief in medicine that influences their decision in selection of soaps.

Urban and Rural markets definitely require more of an ethnographic study, in order to understand them better. Consumer environments need not exist only in Urban and rural markets, micro markets such as tribal markets are also important areas for such consumer based studies. Ethnographic market studies of homogenous micro areas need to be conducted more often not from a corporate point of view but more from a social sciences point of view, in order to gauge the choices of tribes in this era of globalization, because, urbanization of these indigenous populations is occurring at a higher rate. The customs and behavior, in short their culture directs them to choose and consume certain products more than others. Their choice is dictated by their culture. Understanding, their consumer choices and their behavior from a multi-dimensional point of view is necessary, specifically in India, where such research is not very common. The paper is a step towards motivating, such research in micro level consumer markets/environments.