By on January 5, 2012

After making rather disparaging remarks about the management culture at Jaguar Land Rover, Tata CEO Ratan Tata is attempting to do some major damage control after he criticized the Brits in a May, 2011 interview with The Times.

Although the article is hidden behind a pay wall, Tata is widely quoted as saying that “…nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody.” At the Delhi Auto Show, Tata essentially backtracked on his comments, saying his fairly explicit comments were misunderstood.

Tata is quoted as saying that what he really meant was that there was a culture gap. “What I meant was the cultures are very different and British managers move in a different way to Indians,” said Tata. “In India we tend to move from one crisis to another and so managers have to respond by working long hours and at weekends. In the UK there is not the need to operate in the same way. There was no intention to criticize the standard of engineering or management.”

It’s worth noting that Tata’s criticism did not extend to the rank and file workers at Jaguar Land Rover, whom he lauded for being willing to put in the long hours in a tight situation. The constant quality issues of Tata’s Nano were also addressed by the the company namesake, and plans are apparently still in motion to bring the car to Europe. Any exported Nano’s will have to be brought up to a certain standard of quality on par with JLR’s current offerings – as it stands now, the Indian market Nano, with its fire hazards and quality defects, mimics the reliability of another great Jaguar product, albeit with less panache and glamour.

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5 Comments on “Ratan Tata Does Damage Control On Brit Criticism, Downplays Nano Quality Issues...”

  • avatar

    In India we tend to move from one crisis to another and so managers have to respond by working long hours and at weekends.

    At some point you have to ask why you are dealing with so many crises. Maybe a better manager would be able to get ahead of these things.

    I once worked on a huge but brilliantly well managed project, that went live smoothly with hardly any problems. Someone joked that they weren’t happy as there wasn’t any drama.

    In all honestly, some senior managers made disparaging comments because to them what mattered to them was everyone running around with their hair on fire. You got the sense they felt people were cheating or slacking off because they did things right the first time and therefore didn’t have to work crazy hours.

  • avatar

    Given the fact that JLR now make most of TATA motors profits, maybe Ratan Tata needs to make the Indian work culture more like the British one.

  • avatar

    So it sounds like Tata managers might be good firefighters, but also accomplished arsonists. Not something to brag about, IMHO.

    Also, some corporate cultures value “face time” over results. I have no idea what the culture at Tata is, but if this is the case then I wouldn’t be surprised at long hours with no real purpose for middle management…

  • avatar

    Wow, its amazing that folks here are quick to jump to the conclusion that it’s Tata’s managers who have an issue and JLR’s do their job quite well. In India managers might be “firefighting” for reasons having nothing to do with the company e.g. trying to deal with the govt bureaucracy and other external factors. At the very least they are willing to go the extra mile given the need.

    I guess, companies in Britain are so well run and perfect that they never have a need for doing more than the needful. Perhaps JLR would not have had to be sold to Ford and then Tata if its managers were doing such a great job. OTOH, Tata Motors is considered a well run and respected company in India so its managers must be doing something right.

  • avatar

    It’s suprising the amount of naked condescencion and contempt shown for Tata’s ‘Indian’ management.
    The apologists for western management who think they can do a better job laying back and seeing problems in advance need to remember this:
    If British management weren’t blissfully ignorant and instead recognized and dealt with ‘Crises’ on time, they might not have had to shutter TVR or lose Lotus to the Malaysians, Rolls Royce and Bentley to the Germans, or MG Rover, Austin-Healey and Jensen to the Chinese. A company’s purpose isn’t for management welfare as much as doing more with less to get you a better product at cheaper prices and earn shareholders more coin.

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