Business University

Doing Business in Indonesia

Family, social harmony and religion are 3 distinct elements of indonesian business culture

  • Carla Altés, June 18th, 19
  • 1 min reading time
Doing Business in Indonesia
Ms Ella Jauvani Sagala, professor at Telkom University (Bandung, Indonesia), talked about cross-cultural behaviour within Indonesia in a business setting. / Photo: Carla Altés

Ms Ella Jauvani Sagala, professor at Telkom University (Bandung, Indonesia), assisted to the last class of Cross-cultural management and intercultural communication to speak about cross-cultural behaviour within Indonesia and how people relate with communication in a business setting.

“The knowledge of various aspects of Indonesian culture provides significant insights into the way business is conducted and can represent a significant advantage when dealing with Indonesians”.

When talking about Indonesia, two particular aspects must be highlighted first: its vast population, exceeding 260 million inhabitants, and its growing GDP on an average rate of 5%, representing an excellent opportunity for businesses.

As Ms Jauvani Sagala pointed, the country holds many different social, historical and geographical influences; embracing approximately 300 ethics, is full of diversity in all aspects. Three distinct elements underpin Indonesia’s national culture and are, therefore, pervasive in its business culture: family, social harmony and religion. Hence, the knowledge of various aspects of Indonesian culture provides significant insights into the way business is conducted and can represent a significant advantage when dealing with Indonesians.

“Business relationships are based on trust and familiarity”

Besides, professor Jauvani shared basic yet essential tenents of Indonesian business behaviour to keep in mind. For example, business cards have to be handled by either using two hands or the right hand; the left-hand expresses unpoliteness (it has to be avoided to pass or receive anything). In case of being introduced to several people, the eldest member of the group goes first. Besides, patience is key: companies may not respond instantly to emails, particularly if the sender is not well known to them. Last, business relationships are based on trust and familiarity, so personal contacts and networks are strongly encouraged.

Indonesia, like other Asian players around, is a highly attractive emerging country to start, set or expand a business. However, doing so entails a deep understanding and respect for the culture of each region, that goes with an unavoidable intercultural intelligence and ethnocentricity awareness.

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