Why Romania cannot be called “India of Europe”

Amalia Sterescu \ Why Romania cannot be called „India of Europe”

In their search for efficiency and high profit, multinational companies or international giants- draw new outsourcing locations or extensions of their own business on the world map, economical mirages in which at comparatively lower costs than in their native country- imposing qualities and aptitudes can be found. 

 North America has discovered a few years ago the benefits of outsourcing in Bangalore or Delhi (India), Philippines, Costa Rica or China. Europe had Dublin in Ireland, the Czech Republic, Poland – I am using the past tense as these locations have already moved over to make room for new cost effective stars in the area: Romania, Egypt, Ukraine, Estonia.

  Lately, there is a more frequent comparison made between India and Romania based on which of the two is a more cost effective location. From my point of view there is only one common criteria of comparison: we are still cost effective. Besides, there is a series of differences through which either us or them define ourselves as being special: 

– Romania is the only place in the world that can deliver outsourcing services in this moment, in 22-25 foreign languages, at an advanced quality level and at no additional investment in training. In India, English is the base language but there are vehement reactions coming from European or American clients on the strong Indian accent that stands out from every conversation and makes communication difficult. From this standpoint Romania is SPECIAL! 

– From the costs point of view, Romania was in 2005 a strong competition for India on the “marvelous” destinations map. I said “was” because there is an increase in the salary trend, the labor market offer level has increased, the competition on resources is increasingly high, so being the costs of retaining employees and the inferring of a higher and higher attrition rate. All these weaken Romania’s image as Europe’s aspirant leader of the outsourcing market. At the other pole, India is still a leader to where cost efficiency is concerned, taking into consideration that the employee attrition is higher than 24%/ year. Imagine, the salary costs of an American employee located in the US can be used to hire 4 similar specialists in Bangalore. From this standpoint, India is SPECIAL! 

– Romania’s culture is an European one, we are very flexible and easily adaptable to other foreign investor’s cultures and our culture is characterized by not interfering in the most favorable course of a business, on the contrary, we are creative, inventive and open for an outright expression of our feedback, either positive or not. Aspects such as values, religion, dress code do not discord with any normal business environment. From this standpoint, Romania has a normal regime and is a SPECIAL location. In India though, the cast system comes through and appears in the business environment, young leaders are intimidated by elderly employees- because in the Indian culture, elderly people are treated with more respect and their decisions are respected. The decision making process is somewhat affected by the fear of not offending or coming in contradiction with the leader’s (from across the ocean) wishes and strategy. Any leader that wishes to transfer business in Bangalore India has to make great efforts so that the new local employees would successfully embrace the organizational culture of the company in such a way that the customers on the other part of the ocean would not sense any major differences in services. 

– As for the quality of the infrastructure, India has enormously invested in efficient business systems, networks, communications and processes and is a power in coordinating impressive volumes of business with a minimum downtime. From this standpoint, India is SPECIAL! Romania has a lot of work to do where this is concerned-  the informatisation of Romania and making the internal processes effective needs a more pragmatic and long-term tackling. 

– The education level of Romanian specialists (IT area, customer relations in multiple foreign languages) is acknowledged for its performance. We are SPECIAL now and maybe in the next 2-3 years because we still benefit from the level of knowledge of a generation that had the chance to study under an efficient not a superficial Romanian education system. An effort of improvement towards perfecting oneself, studying and self-development is needed in order to keep the flag flying where this area is concerned. There are good signs: more and more managers resort to training companies on specialized areas, company leaders conclude agreements with local universities for educational programs and growth of the future generations. India though is with a few steps ahead, besides the graduate and post graduate studies, more and more multinational companies use the method of studying towards perfecting Indian employees across the ocean so that they would become specialized, adapt to the Western culture and retain them (contractually or not) for a longer period of time. Thus, in the near future, India will be built on specialists educated in Western schools, trained in the business environment from across the ocean, an environment that will cultivate innovation and their entrepreneurial spirit. A great part of them return to India to open their own businesses or to work for other multinational companies. From the Romanians that have left the country, how many of them will return to build a new Romania?

 I have sometimes noticed, that as Romanians, we speak of India with certain superiority, a fact that I try to understand. „We are not Indians” we say with a characteristic Romanian pride- it is true, we are not, maybe we are more talented & more creative. We should learn something from all this history: today we are happy that we have an increasing level of investments in outsourcing, for Bucharest employees more and more offers appear and each of them attractive, the employees’ benefits are more and more diverse in the battle for rare skills- we believe that Bucharest has become the heaven of outsourcing and believe that we have been blessed.  

How long do you think it will take until the story of Dublin and Prague repeats? How long do you think it will take until others will put their finger on a far away land but more „cost effective” and will erase Romania from the map of „marvelous” destinations? How long do you think it will take until we exhaust the last resources in the local battle for competent resources that are in the danger of becoming extinct? As employees, for how long do you think we will fly from one job to the other chasing higher salaries without having the necessary time to add learning experiences to the luggage that we carry around to the others because they offer more? 

We are fine now, but Romania needs a long term strategy one in which the educational system must be combined with the real needs of the business environment in which the political environment must sustain foreign investments, through attractive policies. We need more mentors for our graduated youth who find themselves in certain jobs just because it happened for them to find it, a career does not necessarily mean a higher salary- it stands for what you can do anywhere on the world map and in any conditions.

Please check Romanian version below. 

Data articol: 3 January 2008
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