Organisational development and the Hindu trinity - – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva


Published on

This paper uses the metaphors of the Hindu trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and its relevance to organisational development (OD). It explores
roles on leadership, corporate culture and change for increasing organisational growth and effectiveness. By employing hermeneutics, a qualitative methodology in interpretations, the parallel roles of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva
are drawn to show key strategies and ways of creating, maintaining and eliminating (changing) the organisational culture and organisational leadership renewal. This paper is expected to provide a new dimension in studying OD
from the Indian philosophy and cultural perspectives.

Published in: Business, Education
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Organisational development and the Hindu trinity - – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva

  1. 1. Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 4, No. 5, 2011 491Organisational development and the Hindu trinity:Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva on leadership, culture andchange Patrick Kim Cheng Low* Faculty of Business, Economics and Policy Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Jalan Tungku Link, Gadong BE1410, Brunei Darussalam Fax: +673 2463017 E-mail: *Corresponding author Balakrishnan Muniapan Human Resource Management, School of Business and Design, Swinburne University of Technology (Sarawak Campus), Jalan Simpang Tiga, Kuching 93350, Sarawak, Malaysia Fax: +6 82 423594 E-mail: Abstract: This paper uses the metaphors of the Hindu trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and its relevance to organisational development (OD). It explores roles on leadership, corporate culture and change for increasing organisational growth and effectiveness. By employing hermeneutics, a qualitative methodology in interpretations, the parallel roles of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are drawn to show key strategies and ways of creating, maintaining and eliminating (changing) the organisational culture and organisational leadership renewal. This paper is expected to provide a new dimension in studying OD from the Indian philosophy and cultural perspectives. Keywords: Hindu trinity; Indian culture; corporate culture; organisation development metaphors; leadership and change. Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Low, P.K.C. and Muniapan, B. (2011) ‘Organisational development and the Hindu trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva on leadership, culture and change’, Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 4, No. 5, pp.491–505. Biographical notes: Patrick Kim Cheng Low is currently working at Faculty of Business, Economics and Policy Studies (FBEPS), Universiti Brunei Darussalam. He is also an MD for BusinesscrAFT™ Consultancy and an Associate of University of South Australia. He has more than 20 years of experience in various sectors in several countries in Asia. Formerly, he was the Associate Dean, Director of Career Services and Chair of the Management and Marketing Department of a University in Kazakhstan. He is also the author of several best-selling books in Marketing and Management.Copyright © 2011 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
  2. 2. 492 P.K.C. Low and B. Muniapan Balakrishnan Muniapan is a Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at the School of Business and Design, Swinburne University of Technology (Sarawak Campus), in Kuching (Malaysia). He is also an active HRM and Industrial Law Consultant in Malaysia and within Asia. He has more than 50 publications in journals, books and conference proceedings. He has presented on HRM at several seminars and academic conferences within Asia, Australia and Europe.1 IntroductionThe purpose and objectives of the paper is to relate organisational development (OD)from the perspectives of leadership, corporate culture and organisational change with,viz. the Hindu1 trinity2 – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Lord Brahma is the first member ofthe Hindu trinity, Lord Vishnu being the second and Lord Shiva, the third. The rolesplayed by the Hindu trinity have a similar application in the context of OD andorganisational life cycle. It is also highly relevant for leadership, corporate cultureand change management. Leadership roles remain one of the most relevant aspects of the organisationalcontext. A leader is a person who influences a group of people towards a specific result.Leaders are also recognised by their capacity for caring for others, clear communicationand a commitment to their task or function. Leaders play important roles in forming aneffective culture (Brahma), maintaining and sustaining the culture and changing theculture to adapt to the changing environment (Vishnu) and organisational renewal(Shiva). An organisation’s corporate culture on the other hand is a set of values, what isheld dearly, close to our hearts (Low Kim Cheng, 2002a,b, 2005a–d, 2008). Corporateculture, therefore, can contribute and lead to a firm’s start-up (Brahma), stability and/orgrowth (Vishnu) and renewal or organisational reengineering (Shiva). Organisations today are required to adopt a ‘new paradigm’, in leadership and cultureto be more sensitive, flexible and adaptable to the demands and expectations ofstakeholder demands to adapt to the environmental changes. A variety of driving forceshave provoked the need for organisational change and development. Increasingtelecommunications and sophisticated technologies have ‘shrunk’ the world substantially.On the other hand, the increasing diversity of workforce has brought in a wide array ofdiffering values, perspectives and expectations among workers. Therefore, the need toresearch and find new ways and approaches like the use of metaphors towards ODbecomes crucial to create and sustain competitive advantage. The use of metaphors by researchers when depicting OD, leadership and corporateculture is not uncommon. Morgan (1997) provided a number of metaphors that have beenproposed for understanding organisations. He suggested eight different metaphors, eachof which provides a different way of thinking about organisations, seeing theorganisation:1 as a goal-seeking machine with interchangeable parts2 as a biological organism that continually adapts to change3 as a central brain that can respond to, and predict, change
  3. 3. OD and the Hindu trinity 4934 as centering on a set of shared values and beliefs5 as centering on power and conflict as a means, whereby individuals achieve their own aspirations or mutual self-interest6 as centering on norms of behaviour so that the organisation is likened to a psychic prison7 as flux and transformation8 as an instrument of domination.Metaphors can indeed be used to illustrate such a pattern or theme, and Gannon (1993,1994, cited in Low Kim Cheng, 2002a,b) has used them to describe organisations andcultures. Metaphors are usually situations, events or circumstances that occur in a culturethat capture and clarify its essential elements. One such example is the symphonyorchestra as the cultural metaphor for Germany. Germany is a musical nation with manyorchestras, and operates like one. In a symphony orchestra, conformity is valued, rulesare established and each person is expected to work for the overall goodness andefficiency. Several other examples given of national cultural metaphors include theItalian opera, French wine, Russian ballet, Japanese garden, Spanish bullfight, Americanfootball and Turkish coffee house (Gannon, 1993, 1994, p.19). The use of metaphors tounderstand organisation and cultures has, therefore, much potential, and they create newunderstanding about the original objects (cultures) (Ortony, 1979, cited in Low KimCheng, 2009, 2002a,b). The use of metaphors also keeps the field of OD growing,moving and challenging, as different views and perspectives are provided inunderstanding and managing organisations.2 Organisational developmentOD is a dynamic field, which keeps growing and increasingly becoming relevant inmanagement literature, as the nature and needs of organisations are changingdramatically (Grieves, 2000). OD is the process of improving organisations. The processis carefully planned and implemented to benefit the organisation, its employees and itsstakeholders. OD is increasingly becoming relevant, as today’s organisations operate in arapidly changing environment. Profitability, productivity, morale and quality of work lifeare of concern to most organisations because they impact achievement of organisationgoals. There is an increasing trend to maximise an organisation’s investment in itsemployees. Jobs that previously required physical dexterity now require more mentaleffort. Organisations need to ‘work smarter’ and apply creative ideas. Consequently, oneof the most important assets for an organisation is the ability to manage changeeffectively to remain competitive, and for people to remain healthy and committed(Muniapan, 2006). OD’s relevance is also due to the current changes in the workforce. Employees expectmore from a day’s work than simply a day’s pay. They want challenge, recognition, asense of accomplishment, worthwhile tasks and meaningful relationships with theirmanagers and co-workers. On the other hand, today’s customers demand continuallyimproving quality, rapid product or service delivery; fast turnaround time on changes,competitive pricing and other features that are best achieved in complex environments by
  4. 4. 494 P.K.C. Low and B. Muniapaninnovative organisational practices. The effective organisation must be able to meettoday’s and tomorrow’s challenges, and therefore adaptability and responsiveness areessential to survive and thrive (Muniapan, 2006). OD is often referred to as the approach and response to change to increase theorganisation’s effectiveness and viability (Western, 2010). OD has received a great dealof attention over the past several decades, as organisations face new and complexchallenges like never before. Bennis (1969, p.12 cited in Grieves, 2000) has referred ODas a ‘response to change, a complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs,attitudes, values and structure of organisation so that they can better adapt to newtechnologies, marketing and challenges and the dizzying rate of change itself’. Beckhard on the other hand defines OD as a ‘planned effort’ involving ‘systematicdiagnosis’ of the ‘total organisation managed from the top’ to increase ‘organisationaleffectiveness and health’ of the overall system (Beckhard, 1969, pp.9–10, cited inGrieves, 2000). OD is also a ‘system-wide application of behavioural science knowledgeto the planned development and reinforcement of organisational strategies, structures andprocesses for improving an organisation’s effectiveness’ (Cummings and Worley, 2006,p.2). The field of OD is receiving a great deal of attention now as a growing field, and hasthe diversity of perspectives and approaches. The past few decades have seen anexplosion in the number of OD tools, such as process consulting, cultural change,continuous improvement (kaizen), systems theory, system thinking and strategic thinkingto effectively explore and understand organisations, and to guide for successful change inthose organisations. As new approaches for OD are being developed from variousperspectives, the authors are relating the Hindu trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in thecontext of OD, focusing on the leadership, culture and change perspectives. This religious metaphor is aptly chosen, because at the end of the day certain valueshave to be religiously or ritualistically perpetuated; and at that, in fact, be stronglyadhered. That certain values, the authors are referring to, are the company’s successvalues (Low Kim Cheng, 2005c) as well as ethical values. However, of the values thatmake up an organisation’s culture, ethical values are now considered among the mostimportant (Daft, 2004). Widespread corporate scandals, missing or embezzled funds andcharges of insider trading have blanketed the newspapers and the media in recent years.Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are also under scrutiny from the public as never before.Corporations, even some small companies are putting emphasis on ethics to restore thatvital trust among their stakeholders, particularly customers and the communities. Ethicalvalues set standards of what is good or bad in conduct and decision-making (Daft, 2004).3 The Hindu trinityOver the decades, we have witnessed a tremendous growth of literatures relating to thephilosophy, transpersonal psychology, meditation, yoga, Vedanta3, Islam, Christianity,Buddhism, Taoism and many other philosophical schools of thought in management(Kale and Shrivastava, 2003 cited in Muniapan, 2006). There is also a increasing numberof literature on the Indian philosophy and organisational management from authors, suchas Chakraborty (1993, 1995, 1999), Chakraborty and Chakraborty (2008), Sharma (1996,1998, 1999, 2002, 2003), Krishnan (2001, 2003), Kejriwal and Krishnan (2004), Satpathy(2006, 2007), Muniapan (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010), Muniapan and Dass (2008, 2009),
  5. 5. OD and the Hindu trinity 495Muniapan and Satpathy (2010), Satpathy and Muniapan (2008), Roka (2006), Parashar(2008) and others. These scholars have made studies based on the Vedic literatures,4Upanisads, Ramayana,5 the Bhagavad-Gita6 (a part of Mahabharata7) and theArthashastra of Kautilya.8 Except for the earlier studies by Low Kim Cheng (2008) onleadership and corporate culture from Hindu trinity, and another study by Low KimCheng (2010) on ‘Successfully Negotiating in Asia’, applying the Hindu trinity in theform of the Brahma Negotiator, the Vishnu Negotiator and the Shiva Negotiator as wellas the Kathakali Negotiator, there has not been any management and OD literature relatedto the Hindu trinity. The Hindu trinity consists of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. LordBrahma is the first member of the Hindu trinity as the creator (builder). The trinityrepresents the three fundamental powers of nature, which are manifested in the world,viz. creation, destruction and maintenance. These powers exist perpetually as thecreation, maintenance and destruction is going on all the time. They are inseparable, asthe creation and destruction are like two sides of a coin. Maintenance on the other hand isan integral part of the processes of creation and destruction. Life in this world is amanifestation of the three principles of creation, sustenance and destruction. In fact, thesethree are interconnected. The apparent destruction is only an essential forerunner tocreation. Lord Brahma is traditionally accepted in the Indian context as the creator of the entireuniverse. Creation requires creativity and creativity requires knowledge and wisdom,therefore the consort of Lord Brahma is Saraswati Devi, who is the goddess of learning.In the Devi Mahatmya9 (an ancient Hindu text), Saraswati Devi is in the trinity of MahaKali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. One of the earliest iconographic descriptionsof Brahma is that of the four-faced god seated on a lotus. The Lord Brahma has in hisfour hands a water pot (kamandalu), a manuscript (Vedas), a sacrificial implement(sruva) and a rosary (mala). He wears the hide of a black antelope, and his vehicle is aswan (hamsa). The four faces of Brahma represent the four Vedas. They also symbolisethe functioning of the inner personality (antahkarana), which consists of thoughts. Theyare the mind (manas), the intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and conditionedconsciousness (chitta). They represent the four ways in which thoughts function. Theyare the manifestations of the unmanifest consciousness (Rudra Centre, 2007). Lord Vishnu is the preserver of the universe and presiding deity of peace (manager,leader). The Vedas and the Vedic literatures refer Lord Vishnu as the eternal, all-pervading spirit and the source of all sources. Lord Vishnu is often seen in human form,sleeping on the great serpent Ananta Shesha and floating on the Causal Ocean, UniversalOcean and Milk Ocean. Lord Vishnu’s role is to protect humans and to restore order tothe world. His presence is found in every object and force in creation, and some Hindusrecognise him as the divine being from which all things come. Lord Vishnu appears in anumber of Hindu texts, including the Rig Veda10, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. To perform his role as a preserver, Lord Vishnu had ten principal avatars orincarnations (10th avatar, Kalki yet to come) of which Lord Rama and Lord Krishna arethe most important. The first, Matsya, was a fish; the second avatar was Kurma; the thirdas Varaha, the boar; the fourth avatar, the man lion Narashimha; Lord Vishnu appearedon earth a fifth time as Vamana, the dwarf; the sixth avatar was Parasurama; LordVishnu’s most popular and well-known avatars were Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, thegreat heroes of the epics the Ramayana and Mahabharata; the ninth avatar of LordVishnu was the Buddha, who founded the Buddhist faith. Lord Vishnu’s 10th avatar,
  6. 6. 496 P.K.C. Low and B. MuniapanKalki, has not yet arrived on earth. Management and the preservation of the universerequires plenty of wealth and resources, therefore the consort of Lord Vishnu is LakshmiDevi, the goddess of wealth. Lord Shiva is the destroyer (rejuvenator). Lord Shiva is married to the Sakthi Devi.Sakthi Devi represents perishable matter (prakriti). Lord Shiva’s marriage with SakthiDevi signifies that the power of destruction has no meaning without its association withperishable matter. Destruction manifests itself only when there is perishable matter. LordShiva sits in a meditative pose against the white background of the snow-cappedHimalayas in Mount Kailasa. His posture symbolises perfect inner harmony and poise,experienced by a man of realisation. He maintains perfect serenity, equanimity andtranquility in all environments and circumstances. The snow-white background of LordShiva symbolises the absolute purity of mind (Rudra Centre, 2007).4 How corporate culture beginsCorporate culture is the total sum of the values, customs, traditions and meanings thatmake an organisational unique. Corporate culture is often called ‘the character of anorganisation’, since it embodies the vision of the company’s founders (Montana andCharnov, 2008). Corporate culture is also considered to be the web of tacitunderstandings, boundaries, common language and shared expectations maintained overtime by organisational members. According to Bodley (1996), there are several ways oflooking at studying corporate culture and these include:1 Historical: culture is social heritage or tradition that is passed on to future generations.2 Behavioural: culture is shared, learned human behaviour, a way of life.3 Normative: culture is ideals, values or rules for living.4 Functional: culture is the way people solve problems of adapting to the environment and living together.5 Mental: culture is a complex of ideas or learned habits for social control.6 Structural: culture consists of patterned and interrelated ideas, symbols or behaviours.7 Symbolic: culture is based on arbitrarily assigned meanings that are shared by an organisation.Culture starts with leadership, is reinforced with the accumulated learning of theorganisational members and is a powerful set of forces that determine human behaviour.Once a corporate culture is formed and in place, there are practices within theorganisation that act to maintain it by giving employees a set of similar experiences.The corporate culture is then maintained and reinforced through selection process,performance evaluation criteria, reward practices, training and career developmentactivities, and promotion procedures ensure that those hired fit in with the culture, rewardthose who support it. An organisation’s culture goes deeper than the words used in its mission statementand a strong culture is essential for organisational growth. In Hindu trinity, the creation
  7. 7. OD and the Hindu trinity 497role of Lord Brahma’s act is critical for organisational growth. Good visioning, missionand values need to be created and practised. A leader can uncover a compelling visionwith its attendant values, and he articulates this vision that is appealing and motivating toemployees. In every organisation, leadership needs renewal and successors must cometo replace the present leaders. Good corporate leaders visualise well, have good visions and they also plan well.Planning includes anticipating potential problems or opportunities the organisation mayface. Here, we can perhaps apply what McDaniel and Gitman (2008, pp.237–241) haveadvocated, that is:1 Strategic planning, creating long-range (one to five years) broad goals for the organisation and determining what resources will be needed to achieve these goals.2 Tactical planning (normally less than a year), this begins with implementing the strategic plans.3 Operational planning, creating specific standards, methods, policies and procedures that is used in specific areas of the organisation.4 Contingency planning, identifying alternative courses of actions for very unusual crisis situations.In Hinduism, it is said, an individual’s subtle body is made up of his mind and intellect,that is, his entire thoughts. A person’s subtle body is responsible for the creation of hisgross body and also the world that he experiences. The individual’s thoughts determinethe type of physical body he possesses. The same thoughts are also responsible for thekind of world and universe that the individual experiences around him. As the thoughtsmerge, so is the world. If a person possesses good thoughts, he sees a good world. If anindividual’s thoughts are bad, he sees a bad world (Rudra Centre, 2007). From the start, the company’s code of conduct should be initiated and created; andtraining courses in ethics are taught. Strict ethical standards and ethical values need to beprioritised. Organisational members learn the corporate culture and core success/ethical values tosome extent by observing what leaders pay attention to, measure and control (DuBrin,2007). Monkeys see, monkeys do; organisational members follow the river (the leader)and it will lead to the sea (the leaders’ key values and the corporate values). Morespecifically, they look up to their leaders and imitate their examples; the corporate leadersbecome their role models in line with what Low Kim Cheng (2002a,b, 2006a,b, 2009,p.139) has highlighted: ‘if the stick is crooked, the shadow cannot be straight’. An organisation’s leaders, its founders, the CEOs and their philosophies, values,examples and stories are strong influences on the formation and conditioning of corporateculture (Low Kim Cheng, 2002a,b, 2009; Weiss, 1996). It is said that the core values –‘long-lasting beliefs about what is worthwhile and desirable’ (Nahavandi, 2009, p.117) ofthe company’s founders have been responsible for the organisational growth. Thesevalues can be lasting, they last long after the leaders have gone, and are, in fact,critical in building clocks (Collins and Porras, 1997, cited in Low Kim Cheng,2006a,b). That is to say, interestingly, visionary leaders, whose ideas live on long afterthey are gone, build strong companies or institutions. Similar to the Brahmanic drift: ‘asthe thoughts merge, so is the world’, these core values act as a compass in growingcompanies and businesses. They also account for the success as well as the higher
  8. 8. 498 P.K.C. Low and B. Muniapanperformance of organisations and nations (Low Kim Cheng, 2005d, 2006a,b). Acompany – with its core values in place (‘intensely held’ and ‘widely shared’) – has astrong corporate culture, and a strong corporate culture like Walmart’s gives the companydirection (Robbins, 2005, p.488). It is also important to recruit like-minded people, hiring people whose personalideologies (values) are congruent with that of the organisation (Zachary and Kuzuhara,2005). In Low Kim Cheng (2005d) study (citing Cherrington, 1991; Dessler, 2005;Stewart, 2004; Wells and Schminke, 2001), he has highlighted that the simplest way,ethically speaking, to improve an organisation is to select carefully and hire more ethicalpeople. Here, proper selection and screening of employees is critical, as these are goodhuman resources management practices. The applicant’s references need to be thoroughlychecked. Yet another critical but practical guideline in creating corporate culture entailsthe corporate leaders and managers to creatively identify specific types of culturalelements, such as symbols, stories and rituals that communicate and reinforce thecompany’s culture in a compelling way (Zachary and Kuzuhara, 2005). Leaders should also inspire, bring about invention and create or trigger growth.Innovation, new product development and new markets are thus needed fororganisational growth. At times, some companies can also ‘empower their managers togo out and recruit, hire and develop other people who will buy-in to the culture and actto support it’ (Zachary and Kuzuhara, 2005, p.244).5 Sustaining and keeping the culture aliveThe core values of the company’s founders which permeated through, being practised,and adopted, as the corporate values need to be preserved. Here, the Lord Vishnuprinciple is to be applied. Lord Vishnu plays the role of maintenance. The company’score values need to be preserved. Values and practices that promote high performanceand integrity are promoted; an excellent corporate culture is attained through hiring,training and promoting people who endorse the corporate values. Lord Vishnu principlemust come into being; institutionalisation must take place. The core values, once taken roots, serve to supply and encourage some form ofstability. For example, in Thailand, several Buddhist factions are calling for Buddhism tobe enshrined as the state religion. They want some form of stability, ‘claim(ing) that sucha move is necessary to preserve Thailand’s character and prevent the encroachment offoreign mores’. ‘The Thai people just copy Western culture,’ says university professorand Buddhist activist Dhirawit Pinyonatthagarn. ‘Our values are under threat.’ (Caryl,2008, p.21; also cited in Low Kim Cheng, 2008). Also as seen in the Singapore Civil Service, among other key values, the value ofintegrity is upkept, and that value is responsible for Singapore’s good corporategovernance climate. The economically prosperous island – Republic of Singapore enjoysan ‘efficient and honest civil service that promptly attended to the needs of its citizens’(Ganesan, 2002, p.53); in Singapore, everything was on the table with clear rules(Thurow, 1996, cited in Low Kim Cheng, 2009, 2002a,b; Schein, 1996, p.169). Further, there is a feeling of stability in the sense of organisational identity providedby these core values or corporate culture. Interestingly, Walt Disney is able to attract,develop and retain top-quality employees because of the firm’s stability and the pride ofidentity that go with being part of the Disney team (Ivancevich et al., 2008).
  9. 9. OD and the Hindu trinity 499 Just like the peace-loving Lord Vishnu, the Preserver or Sustainer of life with hissteadfast principles of order, righteousness and truth ( Hinduism, 2008b), soalso is the way in which the corporate culture, its core values are to be preserved. Whenthe preservation of these values is good for the company’s organisational growth andprogress, it is critical that the corporate leaders work proactively, up-keeping parts of thepast and respecting the past yet relevantly adapt to the present. Focusing on the coreelements (ethical values) that should not change overtime, they adapt the existing valuesand ideologies to meet current challenges and crises (Zachary and Kuzuhara, 2005). Lord Vishnu is often shown as reclining on a Sheshanaga – the coiled, many-headedsnake floating on cosmic waters that depicts the peaceful universe. This pose representsthe calm and patience in the face of fear and worries that the poisonous snake depicts( Hinduism, 2008a). The message here is that corporate leaders should not letfear overpower them and disturb their peace. Organisations, more critically, need to let gogracefully; Zachary and Kuzuhara (2005, p.244) speak of company founders and CEOs,as the keepers of the culture, ensure that the culture lives on after they have long beengone. They should plan, engaging in succession planning in order to have the time neededto identify and groom replacement(s) to support or upkeep the culture in future. For employees, they go through the socialisation process, and part of the socialisationprocess consists of the rites of passage, ceremonies that reinforce the organisation’s corevalues (Zachary and Kuzuhara, 2005; Weiss, 1996). These rites include:1 The ‘passage’ rites which assist transition employees into new roles and statuses. For example, induction and basic training in the USA Army or the Republic of Singapore’s basic military training, national service.2 The ‘enhancement’ rites which strengthen the employees’ bond by acknowledging status – such as Mary Kay Awards Ceremonies, and the company-held annual meetings or dinners honouring their high performers.3 The ‘renewal’ rites such as training, retreats and award trips help to revitalise and maintain the employees’ identity with the company.4 The ‘integration’ rites – including promotion ceremonies, Christmas parties and other ongoing programmes and activities – continue the process of cementing the employees’ loyalty to the company.Mentoring can also take place. In most companies, mentoring is used as a means to growand groom leaders (Ivancevich et al., 2008). New employees can obtain valuable careerand psychosocial influences from a variety of individuals – managers, peers, trainers,coaches and contacts.6 Eliminating or minimising bad corporate practicesAs the Hindi proverb goes ‘mare bina swarg nahi milta’, meaning, ‘without death, therecan be no heaven’. By eliminating bad practices, new values and practices can be put intoplace and be nurtured. Lord Shiva plays the role of destruction. Lord Shiva Principle – that of destroying oreliminating bad practices within the firm must be applied and come into the picture. Badpractices, such as absenteeism, turnover and low job satisfaction that may weaken the
  10. 10. 500 P.K.C. Low and B. Muniapanorganisation (vis-à-vis the competition) need to be weeded out. Work flows are studied,and bureaucratic obstacles or paperwork blocks are eliminated or reduced. Servicerecovery audits with checklists are put in place to eliminate bad customerservice practices while promoting values of service excellence (Low Kim Cheng,2002a, 2006a). Certain knowledge management strategies and techniques too may be deployed. Thecorporate culture, know-how and experiences of the company is systematicallydocumented, applied and transmitted to the employees. To promote information andvalue sharing, dialogue among the corporate members is fostered; and shared facilitiesand informal learning encouraged. Much information and value sharing is likely to occurin a snack lounge, corporate information resource center or in the company’s intranetcommunication systems. Additionally, corporate leaders do not hire those who do not endorse the company’svalues or if the latter are employed, are not promoted so that after some time, they leavethe company. One of the key strategic ways is ‘to structure to influence subcultural formation’(Zachary and Kuzuhara, 2005, p.244); the aim here is to reduce the emergence andinfluence of subcultures in the organisation, as they may weaken the culture of the overallorganisation. A subculture is an ideology that exists in one part of the organisation that issomewhat different from the organisation’s culture. For example, a company’s salesdivision may be more collaborative, quality conscious and willing to take risks than theoverall culture of the company which is collaborative and quality conscious, but averse torisks. Next, cross-training can also be deployed to eliminate or minimise subcultures withinthe organisation; members are cross-trained so that everyone can perform a wide range ofjobs across different functional units. Besides, ‘alignment’ is made by emphasisingmanagers of specific units to ensure that their goals, strategies and cultures are consistentor aligned with those of the overall company (Zachary and Kuzuhara, 2005, p.244). Corporate leaders and managers also need to conduct culture audits. Such an audit isa systematic and formal process in which elements of the company’s culture are assessedthrough surveys and interviews with managers and individual contributors with thepurpose to locate and reduce cultural disparities (Zachary and Kuzuhara, 2005). Thisprocess indeed helps management identify potential inconsistencies in its culture thatneed to be addressed. A case in point, one of the company’s core values may emphasiseon teamwork and collaboration, but the compensation system and job design may showan emphasis on individual contributions and performance. It is critical at this point to highlight that the Lord Shiva Principle – that of destroyingor eliminating bad practices within the firm must be applied and come into the picture.Corporate culture can indeed be seen as the key tool against corporate fraud. True,internal controls may provide the structural hardware, but corporate culture and theleader’s influence can serve as the employees’ personal ‘heart-ware’. Low Kim Cheng(2005a) study shows that a substantial proportion of corporate leaders (48% of his study’ssampling) perceived the importance of leadership and corporate culture as the way tomake their companies ethical or fraud-free.
  11. 11. OD and the Hindu trinity 5017 ConclusionOrganisations, just like any living entities go through various stages, such as birth(startup), growth, maturity, decline, renewal or death. Each of these phases presentsdifferent leadership challenges that one must deal with. The first challenge for leaderswho wish to develop their organisations (OD) is to understand what phase of theorganisational life cycle one is in. They need to identify which roles they are playing –Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva (Hindu trinity) in improving their organisational effectiveness.In the OD process, the organisations can basically go through the cycle of life and death,but by applying the Hindu trinity way, corporate leaders can eliminate or get rid of badpractices while nurturing (religiously practise) good (success and ethical) values andpractices for OD. These are the benefits of the understanding the OD, leadership cultureand change by way of the Hindu trinity and its analogies presented. The significance ofthis paper is the presentation of the OD, leadership culture and change from an ancientphilosophy, which today requires intelligent interpretation and re-interpretation to applyin the modern context. Future studies are expected to be made on other dimensions oforganisational management based on the concept of Hindu trinity on the roles of Brahma,Vishnu and Shiva.AcknowledgementsThe authors are thankful to the reviewers for their suggestions and comments on theearlier version of this Hinduism (2008a) The Presiding Deity of Peace, Hinduism, Available at: Accessed on 9 July Hinduism (2008b) Vishnu the Godhead, Hinduism, Available at: Accessed on 8 July 2008.Baird, R.D. (1987) ‘Swami Bhaktivedanta and the encounter with religions’, in H. Coward (Ed.), Modern Indian Responses to Religious Pluralism, State University of New York Press.Beckhard, R. (1969) Organizational Development Strategies and Mode. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.Bennis, W. (1969) Organization Development: Its Nature, Origin and Prospects. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Bodley, J. (1996) Cultural Anthropology: Tribes, States, and the Global System. Mountain View, CA: MayfieldCaryl, C. (2008) ‘Armies of enlightened’, Newsweek, 10 March 2008, pp.18–21.Chakraborty, S.K. (1993) Managerial Transformation by Values: A Corporate Pilgrimage. New Delhi, India: Sage.Chakraborty, S.K. (1995) ‘Wisdom leadership: leading self by the SELF’, Journal of Human Values, Vol. 1, pp.205–220.Chakraborty, S.K. (1999) Wisdom Leadership: Dialogues and Reflections. New Delhi, India: Wheeler Publishing.Chakraborty, S.K. and Chakraborty, D. (2008) Spirituality In Management: Means Or End? Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  12. 12. 502 P.K.C. Low and B. MuniapanCherrington, D.J. (1991) The Management of Human Resources (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Collins, J. and Porras, J. (1997) Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (2nd ed.). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.Cummings, T.G. and Worley, C.G. (2006) Organizational Development and Change. Santa Fe, OK: Thomson, South-Western Publishing.Daft, R. (2004) Organizational Theory and Design. USA: Thomson South-Western.Dessler, G. (2005) Human Resource Management (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.DuBrin, A.J. (2007) Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior. Canada: Thomson South-Western.Ganesan, N. (2002) ‘Governance: its complexity and evolution’, in D. da Cunha (Ed.) (2002), Singapore in the New Millennium, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp.1–25.Gannon, M.J. (1994) Understanding Global Cultures: Metaphorical Journeys Through 17 Countries. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Grieves, J. (2000) ‘Introduction: the origins of organizational development’, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 19, No. 5, pp.345–447.Ivancevich, J., Konopaske, R. and Matteson, M. (2008) Organizational Behavior and Management (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.Kale, H.S. and Shrivastava, S. (2003) ‘The enneagram system for enhancing workplace spirituality’, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp.308–328, Available at:, A. and Krishnan, V.R. (2004) ‘The impact of vedic worldview and gunas on transformational leadership’, Vikalpa, Vol. 29, No. 1, January–March, pp.29–40.Krishnan, V.R. (2001) ‘Can Indian worldview facilitate the emergence of transformational leaders?’ Management and Labour Studies, Vol. 26, pp.237–244.Krishnan, V.R. (2003) ‘Modernization without demolishing cultural roots: the role of transformational leadership’, in J. Gifford and G. Zezulka-Mailoux (Eds.), Culture and the State, Volume IV (Alternative Interventions), pp.164–173, Edmonton, Alberta: Canada Research Chairs Humanities Studio, University of Alberta.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2002a) Corporate Culture and Values: Perceptions of Corporate Leaders of Co-operatives in Singapore, Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, International Graduate School of Management, University of South Australia.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2002b) Strategic Customer Management, Singapore: BusinesscrAFT Consultancy™.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2005a) ‘Fraud prevention, the corporate cultural way – a Singapore case study’, Journal of Contemporary Business Issues, Spring, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.31–39.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2005b) ‘Towards a framework and typologies of Singapore Corporate Cultures’, Management Development Journal of Singapore, Vol. 13, No. 1, May, pp.46–75.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2005c) ‘Values that contribute to companies’ success – perceptions of Singapore corporate leaders’, Effective Executive, April, The Institute of Chartered Financial Analyst India: ICFAI University Press, Available at:, pp.45–55.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2005d) ‘Values that contribute to companies’ Success – Perceptions of Singapore Corporate Leaders’, Effective Executive, April, The Institute of Chartered Financial Analyst India: ICFAI University Press, pp.45–55.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2006a) ‘Crisis management – can core values be considered as a built-in safety net? The Singapore Case’, Insights to A Changing World, No. 3, pp.133–150.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2006b) Strategic Customer Management, Kazakhstan: Caspian Publishing House.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2008) ‘Leadership, corporate culture and the Hindu Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva’, Business Journal for Entrepreneurs, No. 4, pp.37–45.
  13. 13. OD and the Hindu trinity 503Low Kim Cheng, P. (2009) Corporate Culture and Values: Perceptions of Corporate Leaders of Co-operatives in Singapore. UK/USA: VDM-Verlag.Low Kim Cheng, P. (2010) Successfully Negotiating in Asia. Heidelberg Dordrecht, London and New York: Springer.McDaniel, C. and Gitman, L.J. (2008) The Future of Business. China: Thomson South-Western.Montana, P. and Charnov, B. (2008) Management (4th ed.). NY: Barrons Educational Series, Hauppauge.Morgan, G. (1997) Images of Organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Muniapan, B. (2006) “Can the Bhagavad-Gita be used as a manual for management development of indian managers worldwide?’ Fifth Asia Academy of Management Conference, Asian Management: Convergence and Divergence, Tokyo, Japan, 19–21 December 2006.Muniapan, B. (2007) ‘Transformational leadership style demonstrated by Sri Rama in Valmiki Ramayana’, Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.104–115.Muniapan, B. (2009) ‘The Bhagavad-Gita on leadership for good governance and sustainable development’, 15th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference, “Taking up the Global Challenge: Analyzing the Implementation of Innovations and Governance for Sustainable Development”, University of Utrecht, Utrecht, 5–8 July 2009.Muniapan, B. (2010) ‘Perplexity, management and business in India’, in S. Lowe (Ed.), Managing in a Changing Times: A Guide to Perplexed Manager, Kingston University, UK: Sage Publication, pp.317–346.Muniapan, B. and Dass, M. (2008) ‘Corporate social responsibility: a philosophical approach from an ancient Indian perspective’, Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.408–420.Muniapan, B. and Dass, M. (2009) ‘An Indian leadership perspective from literature works of Poet Kannadasan’, Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp.326–340.Muniapan, B. and Satpathy, B. (2010) ‘Ancient Indian wisdom for managers: the relevance of Valmiki Ramayana in developing managerial effectiveness’, Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 3, No. 6, pp.645–668.Nahavandi, A. (2009) The Art and Science of Leadership. USA: Pearson Education International.Ortony, A. (ed.) (1979) Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Parashar, S.P. (2008) ‘Winning over equals: insights from Bhagwad Geeta (Krishna–Arjuna framework)’, Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.354–359.Radhakrishnan, S. and Moore, C.A. (1957) A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Robbins, S.P. (2005) Organizational Behavior, 11th edition, USA: Pearson Prentice-Hall.Roka, P. (2006) Bhagavad Gita on Effective Leadership: Timeless Wisdom for Leaders. iUniverse, Lincoln.Rudra Centre (2007) Lord Brahma, Rudra Centre, Available at: http://www.rudraksha- Accessed on 5 July 2008.Satpathy, B. (2006) ‘Transformational leadership in the Bhagavad-Gita’, The Journal of Indian Management and Strategy JIMS, July–September 2006.Satpathy, B. (2007) ‘Hierarchy of Values in the Bhagavad-Gita’, The Journal of SETU, pp.15–27.Satpathy, B. and Muniapan, B. (2008) ‘The knowledge of “Self” from the Bhagavad-Gita and its significance for human capital development’, Asian Social Science, Vol. 4, No. 10, pp.143–150.Schein, E.H. (1996) Strategic Pragmatism, The Culture of Singapore’s Economic Development Board. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Sharma, S. (1996) Management in New Age: Western Windows Eastern Doors. New Delhi, India: New Age International Publishers.
  14. 14. 504 P.K.C. Low and B. MuniapanSharma, S. (1998) ‘Enlightened leadership in Indian ethos: the way of the theory K’, Management and Change, Vol. 2, pp.93–104.Sharma, S. (1999) ‘Corporate Gita: lessons for management, administration and leadership’, Journal of Human Values, Vol. 5, pp.103–123.Sharma, S. (2002) ‘Corporate leadership model: an Indian model for corporate development and ethical leadership’, in U. Pareek, A.M. Osman-Gani and T.V. Rao (Eds.), Human Resource Development in Asia: Trends and Challenges, pp.291–296, New Delhi, India: Oxford and IBH.Sharma, S. (2003) ‘Towards corporate VEDA: Indian ethos and corporate development’, Journal of Human Values, Vol. 9, pp.163–172.Stewart, S. (2004) ‘Middle-brow culture’, Paper Presented at the Social and Political Thought Graduate Conference, University of Sussex, 23 September 2004.Thurow, L. (1996) The Future of Capitalism: How Today’s Economic Forces Shape Tomorrow’s World. New York: William Morrow and Company.Weiss, J.W. (1996) Organizational Behavior and Change. USA: West Publishing Company.Wells, D. and Schminke, M. (2001) ‘Ethical development and human resources training: an integrative framework’, Human Resource Management Review, Vol. 11, pp.135–158.Western, S. (2010) What do we mean by Organizational Development. Krakow: Advisio Press.Zachary, W.B. and Kuzuhara, L.W. (2005) Organizational Behavior. USA: Thomson South- Western.Zavos, J. (2001) Defending Hindu Tradition: Sanatana Dharma as a Symbol of Orthodoxy in Colonial India, Religion (Academic Press), Vol. 31, No. 2, April, pp.109–123.Notes1 The word Hindu or Hinduism, known as Hindu Dharma in some modern Indian languages is the religion originated from the Indian subcontinent. In contemporary usage, Hinduism is also referred to as sanatana dharma, which means eternal religion. See ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions’, Ed. John Bowker, Oxford University Press, 2000; The term can be traced to late 19th century Hindu reform movement (Zavos, 2001; see also Baird, 1987).2 The concept of trinity in the Indian philosophical context also refers to Trimurti (or three faces of Divine) performing the three cosmic functions, namely creation, preservation and or dissolution. In other words, they are GOD (Generator Operator Destroyer).3 The word Vedanta is a compound of Veda ‘knowledge’ and anta ‘end, conclusion’, translating to the culmination of the Vedas. See Radhakrishnan and Moore (1957). Princeton paperback 12th edition, 1989, p.3.4 The Vedic literatures are vast and composed of many books. However, Sri Madhvacharya, one of the principal teachers of the Vedic philosophy, while commenting on the Vedanta-sutra (2.1.6), quotes from the Bhavisya Purana as follows: rg-yajuh-samartharvas ca bharatam pancaratrakam, mala-ramayanam caiva veda ity eva sabdita, puranani ca yaniha vaisnavani vido viduh – ‘The Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Mahabharata, Pancarata and the original Ramayana are all considered Vedic literatures…. The supplements like the Puranas are also Vedic literatures’. We may also include the Upanisads and commentaries of great teachers who have guided the course of Vedic thought for centuries.5 The Ramayana was written by Sri Valmiki Muni and contains 24,000 verses in seven kandas (books). The Ramayana is about a Raghuvamsa prince, Rama of Ayodhya, whose wife Sita is abducted by demon Ravana. The Ramayana provides the essence of the Vedas.6 The Bhagavad-Gita is a philosophical dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna before the commencement of the war between the Pandavas and Kauravas in Kurukshetra, India more than 5000 years ago. It is a part of Bhisma Parva of the Mahabharata.
  15. 15. OD and the Hindu trinity 5057 The Mahabharata is one of the two major ancient Sanskrit epcis of India, the other being the Ramayana. The Bhagavad-Gita contains in Bhisma Parva of the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata was composed by Sri Vyasa Muni and written by Sri Ganesa. The full version contains more than 100,000 verses, making it around four times longer than the Bible and seven times longer than the Illiad and the Odyssey combined.8 Kautilya is also called Chanakya or Visnugupta was the adviser of Chandragupta Maurya. Kautilya was a statesman and philosopher who wrote a classic treatise on polity, Arthashastra a compilation of almost everything that had been written in India up to his time on artha (property, economics or material success).9 Devi Mahatmya is known as Chandi in West Bengal and as Durga Sapthasathi in the northern parts of India. It consists of Chapters 74 to 86 of the Markandeya Purana and has 700 stanzas. It is the base and the root of the religion of the Saktas, a branch of Hinduism.10 The Rig-Veda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is counted among the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism, known as the Vedas. Some of its verses are still recited as Hindu prayers at religious functions and other occasions, putting these among the world’s oldest religious texts in continued use.