Wednesday, July 24, 2013

For what reasons would you deploy a survey in Indian organisations?

In many cities in India, the governance may sport a rur-urban, near agrarian era mindset, evenas the citizens yearn for a first world living. The disconnect here is to do with lags in social consciousness and avenues for participation in governance.

In formal Indian organisations, top managements fantasize the benefits of their first-world counterparts, while their employees prefer the security of their third-world relationships. Responses to a survey presupposes that both top management and employees respect openness.

How would you know if the top management only uses the survey tool to perpetuate their control, by getting sneak previews to their status and privileges? Would that be openness? Or would that be nosy neighborliness, where 'gossip' can meander into a new form while the real motive is surreptitious surveillance? Oftentimes, the after-taste is one of conditional curiosity or self-fulfilling angst. Anonymity at least protects privacy of the provider of feedback if demographic detail are tended to with thought and care.

YES, surveys may invoke THREAT response in hierarchical India, whereas a REWARD response is the aim of survey based democratic information. Institution building is a multi-year process, and surveys are milestone interventions. If that is not the IDEAL, what satisficing does the survey serve?

Surveys are often spoken with the same breath as we speak about face validity and content validity. Perhaps, on the face of it, survey items capture data that gives prima facie evidence. However, perceptions may belie the underlying truth. Most surveys I have seen being implemented in India lack content validity.

In fact, if the survey sponsor asks for a reliability score - that organisation can be deemed blessed. A measure of internal consistency of the survey is at least a start-point indicator that science is at the service of organisational democracy.

If an organisation is about people, WHAT are you enabling in them, via a survey implementation? Will you be happy with saving face? Or would you like to strive towards cause-effect loops for making an impact on mind-sets of excellence at work?

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