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Brits make lazy managers, UK a spent force: Tata

business Updated: May 21, 2011 23:54 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

British managers are lazy and Britain is no longer an economic power. Ratan Tata declared publicly what Indian businessmen have been saying for years in private. In contrast, he said, managers in India are working in “a war-like situation”.

The Tata Group chairman made the controversial comment just a day after Tata Steel-owned Corus announced 1,500 job cuts.

“It’s a work ethic issue,” Tata told London Times in an interview published Saturday. “In my experience, in both Corus and JLR (Jaguar-Land Rover), nobody is willing to go the extra mile. I feel if you have come from Bombay for a meeting and the meeting goes on till 6pm, I would expect you won’t, at 5 o’clock, say, ‘sorry, I have a train to catch. I have to go home.’

“Friday, from 3.30pm, you can’t find anybody in their office.” In India, he said, “if you are in a crisis, if it means working to midnight, you do it. The worker in JLR seems to be willing to do that; the management is not.”

Although he stressed things had changed, Tata hinted strongly that the British seem to be resting on their past laurels. He noted a “certain comfort level that comes from a country that has had good times”. But Britain, he said, “needs a real push. It needs nationalism. The sort of spirit that comes during a war”.

British MPs and business leaders were quick to rebut Tata. “Nine-to-five is not British culture,” said David Frost, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce.