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Indonesia Business Etiquette & Culture

Indonesia etiquette, manners, and cultue                     Indonesian manners, etiquette, protocol, gift giving,  dress, greetings, and more 

Indonesia Introduction

With a population of almost 200 million people on 13,667 islands, Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago located between the continents of Asia and Australia, and between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Only 35% of the population live in urban areas, but there are more than 30 cities with 100,000+ population. Plus, five cities have a population of over one million. They are Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, and Semarang, and are all located on Java. To truly understand the socio-political culture in Indonesia, one needs to understand Java.

Although the population has a significant Malay heritage, it is also diverse with over 300 distinct cultures residing within its borders. With each culture comes a unique language or dialect; however Bahasa Indonesia, the common language of the country, unites everyone. In tourist areas and population centers English is the most commonly spoken second language. Though the large majority of Indonesians follow the Islamic faith (86.1%), the intensity of their observance for their faith varies due to the large diversity within this nation. Christianity a distant second (8.7%). One important historic note is the strong sentiment against the Chinese. Keep this in mind and be sensitive to this reality.

 

Indonesia Fun Fact

When someone says yes, does he or she mean yes or no. Indonesia is a gracious culture that is polite. Wanting to be agreeable and never wanting to embarrass another, the native language Bahasa Indonesia has 12 words that "say yes but really mean no. Unless you are fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, using English or another language will not convey the correct message. Even with a correct translation, though the literal translation for these 12 words would be yes, the culture requires a polite, agreeable response. Since saying no to someone is impolite, don't assume a positive response means you have agreement.


Geert Hofstede Analysis for Indonesia


The Geert Hofstede analysis for Indonesia has very high power distance with offsetting low individualism. This establishes an authoritarian structure where rank and position are very important. With the majority of the population Islamic, religion and faith enter into decision making on a more subjective basis than in most Western cultures.

Indonesia has Power Distance (PDI) as its highest ranking Hofstede Dimension at 78. The high Power Distance (PDI) is indicative of a high level of inequality of power and wealth within the society. This condition is not necessarily forced upon the population, but rather accepted by the society as part of their cultural heritage. The average Power Distance for the greater Asian countries is 71.

The second highest Hofstede ranking for Indonesia is Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) at 48, compared to the greater Asian average of 58 and a world average of 64. This reflects a more moderated influence of this Dimension within the Indonesian society. Generally, a high Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) indicates the society’s low level of tolerance for uncertainty. In an effort to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict rules, laws, policies, and regulations are adopted and implemented. The ultimate goal of this population is to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty Avoidance characteristic, the society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse.

Indonesia has one of the lowest world rankings for Individualism with a 14, compared to the greater Asian rank of 23, and world rank of 43. The score on this Dimension indicates the Indonesian society is Collectivist as compared to Individualist. This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group', is that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules and regulations. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country in the World with 88% of their population practicing the Muslim faith.

The combination of these two high scores (UAI) and (PDI) create societies that are highly rule-oriented with laws, rules, regulations, and controls in order to reduce the amount of uncertainty, while inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow within the society. These cultures are more likely to follow a caste system that does not allow significant upward mobility of its citizens.

When these two Dimensions are combined, it creates a situation where leaders have virtually ultimate power and authority, and the rules, laws and regulations developed by those in power, reinforce their own leadership and control. It is not unusual for new leadership to arise from armed insurrection – the ultimate power, rather than from diplomatic or democratic change. More Geert Hofstede Details

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group

 

Religion in Indonesia


* WORLD FACTBOOK 2011

 

An Imam explains Islam
By IMAM SHAMSHAD A. NASIR

Islam is the name of the religion that was founded 1,400 years ago by the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Islam is an Arabic word which means peace, love and complete submission and obedience to God. There is no difference between Islam and Muslims. Islam is the religion that a Muslim follows, just as Christianity is the religion which a Christian follows.

A Muslim is someone who has accepted Islam and lives his whole life according to the teachings of Islam. A true Muslim is one who is loving and caring, promotes peace, and is fully obedient and submissive to the will of God.

Islam demands from its believers that they establish peace in the world, promote love and make such examples of themselves that others, knowing that they are Muslims, feel at peace and harmony in that knowledge. This is the true Islam and what it means to be a Muslim.

The Holy Prophet of Islam has said that a true Muslim is one whose actions and words do not harm his fellow man.

ISLAMIC GREETINGS
When Muslims greet each other, instead of saying, “good morning” or “hello” they say “Assalamo Alaikum,” which means “May peace be upon you and may God's blessings be with you.” This greeting makes a Muslim aware that he has to spread love and peace wherever he goes.

ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
There are many attributes of God, one being “AsSalam” meaning “the Bestower of peace and love.” Man has been created to fashion himself to the attributes of God and Muslims must try to adopt this attribute of God.

If someone calling himself a Muslim and a follower of the Holy Prophet does not promote peace and love in his actions and does not follow this teaching, he cannot be a true follower of the Holy Prophet.

A MUSLIM'S PRAYERS
Muslims pray five times a day, asking God for his love.

They pray, “Oh God! You are Peace and from you, is Peace; Blessed are you, O Lord of Majesty and Bounty.”

THE RELIGION OF ISLAM
Islam is a religion from God for the whole of mankind and the name Islam was given to the Muslims by God himself in the Holy Quran.

“This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.”

The Holy Quran has been sent for the guidance of mankind. It is full of wisdom and commands.


 Indonesia Appearance

International Business Dress and Appearance   An umbrella is an essential wardrobe component in rainy season (September - February).

International Business Dress and Appearance   High heat and humidity require packing enough clothing to always appear clean & fresh. You may have to change your clothes several times a day to maintain this look.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Women should wear long-sleeve blouses and skirts that cover the knee.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Women meeting in a more formal office should wear a suit with hosiery.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Women are limited to clothing colors that are muted or dark. Leave brightly colored clothing at home.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Men should wear coat and tie until appropriate to dress more casually. Follow the lead of those you are meeting with.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Men generally wear dark slacks, long sleeve and light colored shirt, and tie (no jacket).

International Business Dress and Appearance   "Lounge suit" requires men to wear a business suit. This term may be included on an invitation.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Men may find in a very casual business office that a short sleeve shirt and no tie would be appropriate.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Women must always cover their upper arms when wearing a casual blouse.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Jeans may be worn for very casual, but never shorts for men or women. Even though the climate is warm and humid, proper attire even for very casual appearance will always dictate your choice of clothing.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Do not crook your index finger to call someone over. This gesture is offensive.

International Business Dress and Appearance   Do not put your hands into your pockets when talking with someone.

 

 Indonesia Behavior 

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  No physical contact between men and women is made in public, except a possible handshake.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Be on time for any meetings. The meetings traditionally start late, and your Indonesian business associates will probably arrive late. However, you are expected on time, and should never make any comment about the meeting starting late or any person arriving late.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Never stand with your back to an elderly person or a high ranking official. As you enter a room be aware of the people who will be in that room with you.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Always rise when your host/hostess enters the room.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Leaving food on your plate signifies you are impolite, so eat all the food you are served.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Only use your right hand for eating, when touching someone, or handling money/papers.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Talking is impolite while eating dinner. Conversation is reserved for before or after the meal.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Never show the soles of your feet/shoes or touch anything with your foot.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Never touch another person's head, this includes a child's head (such as a pat on the head).

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Never eat while walking in public, or chew on a toothpick. Yawning in public is inappropriate (cover your mouth if you must yawn).

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Remove your hat and sunglasses when going indoors.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Gifts, though small, are frequently given.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Gifts are not opened when given. This practice shows the recipient is gracious, not greedy.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Religion/culture dictates specific rules for appropriate gifts. Muslim, Hindus, and the Chinese culture each have rules regarding food, alcohol, and other items. Make sure your gift is not offensive to the person you are giving it to.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Chinese may politely refuse a gift three times before accepting it. When the gift is accepted, tell the recipient how happy you are with his or her acceptance.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not give gifts of alcohol or pork. This would also include perfume since it is made with alcohol, and any leather product made from pigskin (Muslim).

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not give gifts containing beef or items made of cowhide (Hindu).

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not give gifts or pictures that show dogs. They are considered unclean.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  On Chinese New Year, give children and people you frequently deal with, who are not government employees, a gift of money. The money must be an even number of new bills, and presented in a red envelope (Chinese).

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not give a knife, scissors, clock, handkerchief, or straw sandals (Chinese).

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not give a gift that numbers four or shows a crane or stork. In selecting the gift and the gift wrapping paper stay away from the colors white, black, or blue (Chinese).

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  A gift of an umbrella means you do not want to see that person again (Chinese).

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture Considering sending a gift to someone in Indonesia, see gifts to Indonesia

 

 Indonesia Communications 

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Shake hands upon greeting and leaving, and always using your right hand. The handshake is limp and lasts 10-15 seconds.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  For religious reasons (Muslim and Hindu) men and women do not touch in public in this culture.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Women do not offer a handshake to an Indonesian man. However, should a man extend his hand, always shake hands. Some Indonesian men may follow western business rules in a business setting.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Men do not offer a handshake to an Indonesian woman. Reciprocate, however, if she initiates.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Indonesian Chinese may bow, or combine a bow with a handshake.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Greetings are not to be rushed. They carry importance and formality.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Presenting your business card follows introductions. A person's name is very important. Develop a habit of paying close attention during introduction.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Present a business card to each person you are meeting. Offer your card with the printing positioned so the recipient can read it. Your right hand holds the card, with your left hand supporting your right wrist. Your card will be received with both hands.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Time is taken to carefully read the card.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  When presented another person's business card, follow this same ritual.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Never write on a business card.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Never carry your business cards, or place another person's business card in a back pocket.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Print your business cards in English, with the reverse side printed in Indonesian.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Address each person using his/her title plus full name. A title may be an honorific title or an academic title. Rank and status is very important in this culture.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  One important honorific title is for Muslims who have made a pilgrimage to Mecca. Haji is the title for a man, Hajjah is for a woman.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Mr., Madam, Mrs. or Miss is used if a person does not have a title. A man is addressed as Pak (Mr.) or Bapak(Sir) . A lady is addressed as Ibu.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  People are normally called by their first name, as in Mr. Robert or Miss Susan, rather than using their last name.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Married Chinese women keep their maiden name.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Selamat means peace and is a traditional greeting.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  "Yes, but" means no when someone is speaking to you.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Never allow your voice to get loud, whether in anger or joy.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Expressing anger in public through tone of voice, loudness, or body language is always inappropriate.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Do not use red ink when writing, or having printing done (Chinese).

 

 

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Page authored by: Stephen Taylor



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