Monday, October 06, 2008

Problems of modern management: when people resist

Here is a flavor of what the multinational corporation brings to the developing world, as summarized by today's Financial Times, and now myself; in this case relating to India:

An automobile manufacturer cuts a deal with local government in India to build a plant on land that is owned and cultivated by small farmers. The government offers the farmers compensation for their land, but many farmers refuse, either because the compensation is not agreeable, or because farming is their traditional livelihood and they don't want to give it up for factory work.

Eager to push forward with the "democratic development" of their domain, the government confiscates the farmers' land on the corporation's behalf. This prompts an unhappy reaction from the farmers, who stage large protests. The government blames the unrest on left-wing, middle-class interlopers who do not have the farmer's interests at heart: they merely harbor a reflexive animosity towards big business.

Western press outlets cover the story for weeks, marveling at the notion that simple farmers would not jump at the chance for wage-work in a modern industrial facility producing an innovative new vehicle.

The protests succeed and the company backs down. The farmers have their land but it is not the same, having already been developed for industrial use.

Western observers lament the tragic consequences the Indian farmers have surely brought upon themselves. If only they had not had a mind to question the high aspirations their corporate and government betters held for them! Now they will amount to little more than simple farmers on damaged land, rather than proud auto-company employees with a taste for consumption -- or so the story goes.

All this and more, in Asia's "greatest democracy."

No comments: