An Expats Guide to Understanding Indonesia’s Business Culture and Practices

If you are an expat moving to Indonesia, it is always beneficial to understand more about its business culture and practices. Indonesia, being an archipelago nation in the region of Southeast Asia, has its own rich and unique culture. Furthermore, if you are an expat moving to this part of the world for the first time, you have to understand how different work and business is done in Indonesia. Whether you are considering to move on or have already moved to Indonesia, this article is for you. For more expat related articles by Kargo, click here.

The Business Culture in Indonesia

As Indonesia is a thriving trading ground and it being the largest economy in Southeast Asia, there are more than 300 million people living there, making it one of the largest populations in the world. What is more interesting to note is that majority of the population are filled with young people, which is in stark comparison when compared to other developed societies such as Singapore, where it is often referred to as an ageing society. As such, the demographics of Indonesia alone shows why it is an attractive place to do business.

As an expat, it is useful to learn the Bahasa language. As it is the official language in the business world. English may not be as common sometimes even in large cities like Jakarta. As the country is known to have more than 300 different ethnic backgrounds, the cultural identity is so diverse that it shapes how people do business in different parts of Indonesia. However in general, it is good to understand that the management style in Indonesia is Top down, meaning that business decisions are usually made by those who occupy higher positions. Therefore, it means that employees that rank lower in the company’s organisational chart have lesser chances of input.

Secondly, Indonesians are known to be a polite group of people. For instance, Indonesians have a habit addressing males as “Pak” and Females as “Bu”. These are equivalent to Sir or Madam in the English language. In addition, the locals generally do not like to the bearer of bad news, nor do they like to showcase their anger under any circumstances. Therefore, the locals take a very indirect approach when it comes to communicating their unhappiness.

On the other hand, the Indonesians take a very relaxed approach in their lifestyles. So do not be surprised when there are multiple business meetings with the same client before a deal is being made. If you come from a fast paced society, you have to take a step back to get  used to the slower pace of life in Indonesia. Also, never raise your voice during negotiations as they are rarely successful.

Lastly, if you are giving gifts, do give them with both your hands to show that you are respectful. Secondly, avoid giving alcohol or pork related products to Muslims, as it is against their practices.

If you are moving to Indonesia, click here as we could help you with moving services. Comment your thoughts below! if you would like to speak with us, click here.

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