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Enhancing Job Performance through Effective Interpersonal Communication for Foreign Managers to Indonesian Co-workers

Respati Wulandari
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The purpose of this research is to determine the effective way of interpersonal communication in case of enhancing job performance. The object of this research is foreign managers who work with their Indonesian colleague and employees. After finding the result of this research, management could utilize the information to enhance their job performance. This research is supported by qualitative and literature research that will lead to sharing forum is related to job performance.

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Respati Wulandari , 2014. Enhancing Job Performance through Effective Interpersonal Communication for Foreign Managers to Indonesian Co-workers. Research Journal of Business Management, 8: 379-389.

DOI: 10.3923/rjbm.2014.379.389

Received: November 18, 2013; Accepted: April 24, 2014; Published: May 27, 2014


In the corporate world, especially in a multinational company, cultural differences in communication often come to the fore (Sungkar, 2013). Indonesia, a growing nation with huge business opportunity, is open to wide market to all business entrepreneurs that willing to invest or collaborate with Indonesian company. Whether it is as a business partner, joint venture, or involves in multinational company, interpersonal communication takes very important role in their job performances. There are many challenges to deal with particularly among foreign managers in communicating with locals. Indonesian people are varied among many local cultures and several communication problems may occur among locals. Cross cultural management often occurs as an issue in multinational company. Misinterpretation of verbal or non verbal communication can be the barriers for employee’s job performance.

As globalization and cultural diversity increase, it is certain thing that the issue of cross-cultural communication will also increase, according to (Tomas and Inkson, 2004) in Cultural Intelligence: People Skills for Global Business. Language is the challenge of cross-cultural communication in the most obvious. Words easily misunderstood in verbal communication. Tone of voice is another hurdle in cross-cultural communication. How loudly, deeply and quickly people speak are different in each culture and the intonation of the voice send secondary messages that have different meanings in different culture (McShane and Von Glinow, 2010).

Effective interpersonal communication is very important for all organizations, in which no company can survive without it. People can work mutually dependent only through communication (McShane and Von Glinow, 2010). Wolfson and Pearce (1983) in a cross-cultural comparison of the implication of self-discovery on conversation logics say that communication is a critical factor in the problems of cross-cultural management. Cultural delivered and perpetuated to a form or any other form of communication. Culture and communication are also intertwined in complex ways that they are essentially synonymous. Communication, whether in writing, talking, listening, or via the Internet, is part of the inherent role of the manager and takes a lot from a manager’s time in his job. Mintzberg (1973) study in The Nature of Managerial Work (1973) demonstrates the importance of oral communication; he found that most managers spend 50 and 90% of time to talk to people.

Manager communicates with co-ordinate activities, disseminate information, motivate people and negotiate future plans (Deresky, 2011). Communication can also help the welfare of employees (Ellemers et al., 2002). The information communicated from co-workers to help employees manage their work environment, telling them, for example, how to complete the procedure work correctly or handle a difficult customer.

There are several issues which occur from cultural differences in communication in Indonesia. It is a bad impression where subordinates greet supervisor, particularly in eastern culture. Language barriers often lead to communication (Sungkar, 2013). The misunderstanding concerning Western and Indonesian work ethic, such as for Westerner, individualism, rules and achievements are critical operating principle, while for Indonesian develop relationship in order to develop a basis for mutual respect, understanding and trust are the first priority (Jakarta Post, August 4, 2014).

A case study in which Australia and New Zealand, doing Business with Indonesia (Deresky, 2011) mentioned several problems regarding communication barrier. Some cross-cultural behavior such as patience and courtesy is no more than good manners, it applies to all interpersonal communication: But in Indonesia, as in the rest of Asia, there is more need to develop a long-term relationship to produce a profit than there is in Australia or New Zealand. Relationships rely on the hope of sharing together for example, how the first contact should be made, how appointments should be set and stored, how the transaction should be closed, how the time should be set (including the Indonesian concept of 'jam karet', or 'rubber time' which is very annoying Westerners with awareness of punctuality).

Indonesia is one of those countries in which a foreign manager’s home office priorities task over relationship, or corporate rather than human priorities, may not be most effective ways to achieve productivity and effectiveness. Indonesia managers usually place more value on harmony, understanding and mutual respect. It may be sometimes that this emphasis outweighs the importance of job performance and productivity.

To discuss and offer a solution to the issue, the researcher identified the problem which is what are the method and effective interpersonal communication to minimize the differences of cross-cultural and to increase employees’ job performance with Indonesian colleague or local co-workers. This research was conducted in KMPlus ( and several companies in Indonesia. KMPlus is a knowledge management consultant firm which provides consulting services and training on the ins and outs of strategy and knowledge management. KMPlus itself has been established since 2004 and has handled about 100 companies in Indonesia. The objective of this research is to find and give the best way for foreign managers in communicating with their Indonesian co-workers; therefore it will enhance employee’s job performances. The scope of this research is focused on what is the effective interpersonal communication for foreign managers and Indonesia co-workers by qualitative and literature research.


Conflict often occurs due to a lack of opportunity, ability, or motivation to communicate effectively. First, when the two parties is less opportunity to communicate, each tends to rely on stereotypes to understand the other party in a conflict. Secondly, some people lack the ability to communicate adequately in communicating in a diplomatic way, nonconfrontational manner. When one party communicates his or her disagreement arrogantly, opponent tends to further increase the perception of the conflict. The third problem is the perception of conflict reduces the motivation to communicate. Conflict makes relationships discomfort, so people avoid interacting with others in relation to the conflicting relationship. Unfortunately, less communication can further escalate the chance of conflict because of less opportunity to empathize with the situation and the opponent would prefer to rely on the distorted stereotype of the other party (McShane and Von Glinow, 2010).

Harris and Moran (1987) in Managing Cultural Differences (1987) stated that nonverbal communication represents another potential area for cross-cultural misunderstandings. Many nonverbal cues subconsciously or accidentally (like a smile) have the same meaning all over the world but the attitude accidentally often have different interpretations. For example, most of us shake our head from side to side to say "No," but a variation of head shaking mean, "I understand" to many people in India. Filipinos raise they eyebrows to give an affirmative answer, yet Arabs interpret this expression (along the clicking one's tongue) as a negative response. Most Americans are taught to maintain eye contact with the speaker to show interest and respect, whereas some North American native groups and the Australian Aborigines learn at an early age to show respect by looking down when an older or more senior person is talking to them.

Getting your message across
Empathize: Empathy is the ability of a person to understand and be sensitive to the feelings, thoughts and situations with each other. For example, sensitive to the words which allows the ambiguity of trigger the wrong emotional response.

Repeat the message: Rephrase the key points a couple of time. The saying “Tell them what you’re going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you’ve told them” reflect this need for redundancy.

Use time effectively: Our messages collided with messages and voice, so find a time when the recipient is not in a state of distracted by these things (McShane and Von Glinow, 2010).

Active listening: “Nature gave people two ears but only one tongue which is a gentle hint that they should listen more than they talk” (Davis and Newstorm, 1985). Listening is an active process of sensing the signal from the sender, evaluating it correctly and responding it appropriately.

Sensing: Sensing is the process of receiving a signal from the sender and paying attention to them. The active listeners improve sensing in three ways. First, they delayed evaluation by not forming an opinion until the speaker is finished. Second, they avoid interrupting speaker’s conversation. Third, they remain motivated to listen to the speaker.

Evaluating: The evaluating component of listening includes understanding the message's meaning, evaluating the message and remembering the message. To improve the evaluation of their conversation, the active listener empathizes with the speaker, they try to understand and be sensitive to the feelings, thoughts and the situation of the speaker. Evaluation also improves by organizing the speaker's ideas during the communication episode.

Responding: Responding, the third component of listening is to provide feedback to the sender, thereby motivating and directing communication of the speaker. The active listeners achieve this by maintaining eye contact sufficiently and send back a signal channel, where they show an interest. They also responded by clarifying messages, rephrasing the speaker's ideas at appropriate breaks.

Direct communication with top management: "The best fertilizer in any field is that of the farmer's footstep!" This ancient Chinese proverb states that farmers will have more success by taking more time on the field to observe directly the development of harvest. Translated in an organizational context, this means senior executives will better understand their business if they meet with employees and other stakeholders directly. Fenton (2008) tells about nearly 40 years ago, the people at Hewlett-Packard created an expression for the communication strategy: Management By Walking Around (MBWA). Founder and CEO Brian Scuda more takes this practice further. "I do not have my own office and I very often move around to different department for a day at a time," says Scudamore.

This also happens in Kowloon's meeting Shangri-La Hotel. Rodwell (2005) in South China Morning Post tells about communicate with employees can be a challenge when an organization can be a great hotel which operates every time. But this condition does not prevent the senior management at Kowloon Shangri-La of the meeting held "state of the hotel" with 700 staff twice a year. It is held two sessions in the morning and one in the afternoon - so employees at Hong Kong hotels can attend without leaving the hotel short-staffed. "It's a chance to communicate about the good, the bad and the ugly," says Kowloon Shangri-La general manager Mark Heywood.

Research conducted decades ago reported that grapevine send information quickly to all directions within the organization. The grapevine works through informal social networks, so it can be more active when the employees have the same background and are able to communicate easily. Many rumors apparently have at least one point of truth, possibly because they are transmitted through media-rich communication channels (face-to-face) and employees are motivated to communicate effectively (McShane and Von Glinow, 2010).

Luthans (2002) speaks on appreciative inquiry tries to break out the problem-solving mentality of traditional change management practices by reframing relationships around the positive and the possible. These activities seek strength and organizational capability (or team) and then adapted or applied that knowledge is to further success and prosperity. In other words, this approach emphasizes building strength rather than trying to correct the problem directly (McShane and Von Glinow, 2010).

Berrisford (2005) shares that British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) requires a more innovative program to reverse the situation in which the number of viewers decreased but the employees complained that radio, television and the Internet does not provide a creative working environment. To unite how to be more creative, the company sponsoring the appreciative inquiry process consulting employees called Just Imagine. More than 10,000 employees (about 40% of employees BBC) have participated in 200 meetings held within 6 months. The BBC's executive publicized the result and immediately implemented a several Recommendations, such as a job swapping and a newcomer orientation program.

Maznevski (2008) tells about cultural intelligence: How cultural intelligence can improve performance. Cultural intelligence is the key to the success of today’s cross culture, cross border, cross organization worker. It consists of specific knowledge about different culture, as well as general knowledge about how culture work. It also requires skill-interpersonal, negotiation, listening and cross-cultural. Martha stated that the most important characteristic is cultural mindfulness or openness to new experiences and ideas and the ability to keep learning.

Mindfulness is the ability of people to pay attention. It is what helps a person recognize and understand the differences between cultures. Recent research has shown that if teams or individuals working in cross cultural situation can be persuaded to pay more attention, performance goes up. The reason that many merger and acquisition have difficult time integrating is usually because they have different norms, values and ways of life. This is a classic example of where cultural knowledge, skill, intelligence and mindfulness are very important.

According to Martha, adapting is the responsibility of anybody who cares about performance. If one person adapts, performance improves a bit. If everybody adapts, performance skyrockets (Maznevski, 2008).

Interpersonal communication practices for cross-cultural management in indonesia: President Director of Bank ICBC Indonesia Yuan Bin is well aware of the likelihood of cultural differences in communication (Sungkar, 2013). The Chinese national consider implementing effective communication in crucial means to bridge cultural differences and prioritizes a work culture that value collaboration. Under his leadership, he has made the multinational blend engine that drives the company forward. Yuan acknowledge there are still some differences, such as religion and language but they can be overcome with his simple recipe: Understanding each other’s culture and beliefs. He said that communication is the key to cross-cultural understanding. However, it is the language barriers that often lead to miscommunication. For that reason, despite the use of English as the international language, they equip their Indonesian and Chinese staff with language training. Yuan always support activities designed to increase awareness and respect of the two cultures. Understanding each other’s culture builds a good relationship within all divisions of the bank. But the more important thing is to maintain the relationshipwhich is essential to keep the team solid. Greeting to others, including superior and subordinates, upon their arrival at work is one basic example of how they maintain their relationship.

Notowidigdo (2001) in his article in Jakarta Post, Useful Frameworks if Managing Cultural Differences speaks about the issues of Western manager and Indonesian Manager. Western manager with his United States experience, motivation and excellent track record, reassure him that he will encounter little he cannot handle in his assignment in Indonesia. After having been on the job for several months, he is experiencing a lot of frustration and Indonesian manager also the subordinates lack both training and motivation. Efforts on of part of the western manager to resolve the issues have been futile. The problem became increasingly severe in the weeks that followed. At the face value, they are obviously not communicating with each other. From cross-cultural perspective, there is cultural conflict in term of different values, assumption or expectations.

In this regard, Fons Trompenaars, a cross-cultural guru, states that a culture distinguishes itself from other cultures by the specific solution it chooses to certain problems. He proceeds to apply a useful framework of managing cultural differences by highlighting five fundamental dimensions on how to relate to other people: rules versus relationship; the group versus the individual; the range of feelings expressed; the range of involvement and; how status is accorded.

In this case, the Western manager, individualism, rules and achievement are critical operating principle. He assumes that his Indonesian colleague shares his assumptions and expectation. The Indonesian manager, though, needs to first develop his relationship with his partner (Western manager) in order to develop a basis for mutual respect, understanding and trust.

Elliot Davernas, the country manager of Englishtown Indonesia, implements a leadership style that eschews hierarchy while focusing in individual empowerment achieved by a strong sense of ownership (Ajani, 2012). The Swede combines his staff’s set of work experiences and skills with his open Swedish approach of allowing all employees to voice their opinions. He said that compromise is the key, he would be ignorant to think that he would be better suited to know their Indonesian customers’ needs compared to his teams, who consists of Indonesian and from whom he has the fullest respect. Being humble and respectful of the differences that exist are essential in his efforts to produce a beneficial cross-cultural work environment. He tries to remain open-minded and adapt to the environment he is in and act as a catalyst for positive change. He explained that whenever a team member is doing something well, they let him or her share that knowledge and also mentor somebody who is more junior.

Furthermore, as a global corporation with a network of offices spread throughout the world, EF routinely conducts best practices sharing between national teams through regular meetings and kick-off on both the international and regional level, as well as via Skype or video conference. Davernas believes that by bringing teams from various functions and locations to interact with each other directly establishes the key learning platform that allows them to benchmark from each other.

Hardjono (2005) in her lecture “Can Indonesia Hold?” (Deresky, 2011) tells about one of the toughest challenge in working in a foreign country is to learn how to operate in different cultural procedures. International managers tells endless stories of cross-cultural breakdowns, missed appointments, problems over differences in management style, lost orders or down time on production lines, labor problem between the foreign management and local staff and many other examples of miscommunication. Many have been avoided or at least are reduced. Expatriate managers and their local colleagues have prepared better for the differences in employment patterns.

There are some concerns for Indonesian managers’ work with their Western colleagues. For example, they believe that Westerners must strive to adapt to the culture, taboos and the language of their Indonesian colleagues. They should give the instruction slowly and clearly in standard English and should ask for a paraphrase to ensure understanding. They must be willing to consider individual cases and cultural needs (such as prayer time or other religious duties, time off to visit the tomb before Ramadan, weddings and funerals). On the other hand, Indonesian managers should be willing to make many adjustments to working in an international company. Important areas where Western management techniques are most successful include strategic, planning and timetable deadlines, efficiency and punctuality, handling conflict and taking responsibility.

Sensitivity to the needs of employees is a management area that is seldom stressed in most Western business cultures where efficiency, productivity and effectiveness take priority. For example, when someone loses control through anger, distress, or confusion, the Javanese would normally recommend the need for 'eling' (in translation, not allow oneself to be overwhelmed by mixed-up feelings and thoughts but to regain self-control). Self control is a high value for the Javanese, maybe of the highest. This value is not unique to Indonesia. It is a common cultural emphasis on the art of making and wearing masks to represent hidden emotions. Regardless of the cultures they come from, mask convey the essential emotions (IGNCA, 1998). Thus situations can arise in business contexts where hiding true feelings and keeping up appearances may take precedence over solving a problem.

Maintaining harmony in the office by giving the outward appearance stating that there is nothing wrong is reasonable in Indonesian traditional office. The bad news is not in talking with the boss and which situations seem insurmountable to the employee can simply ignore (Whitfield, 2006). Because of this attitude is not generally accepted as a part of western culture-although, in fact it is exist-western managers should be taking more time to observe and listen to Indonesian employees than they would back home.

Another reason why such attentiveness is important is that Indonesian business relationships are paternal or maternal. Workers expect their supervisors to keep their interest as parents to their children and supervisors understand and accept their responsibilities. Therefore, western manager should make it clear that they wished for and expect subordinates to come to them with questions and concerns and that the response will be non-judgmental and self-controlled. The faces should be without mask; they should not portray the negative emotion of anger, confrontation or aggression. Manager in Indonesia are expected to always polite and always smiling, no matter how angry they may be inside.

These particular practices of interpersonal communication are happening in Indonesia. The way of communication leads and effects job performance to all parties. Despite the fact that there are common issues occur from cross-cultural differences in communication, there is always solution to minimizing misunderstanding of the differences.


The research is supported by qualitative and literature research. For literature research, researcher did some data collection by collecting articles from English language newspaper and academic books in terms of cross-cultural management in Indonesia. For qualitative research, the researcher did some exploration such as interviewing managers and employees to explore the identifiable interpersonal communication practices that happened in companies. The researcher also joined in forum and informal meeting to know their communication method.


The data shown in this study is that the data has been obtained from KMPlus and several companies in Jakarta based on interviews that have been conducted by the researcher.

KMPlus has their interpersonal communication strategies with their clients. The strategy used is to come and meet with clients both face to face and via telephone. By meeting face-to-face with clients, KMPlus would find their client’s needs. This way will nurtured and sustained good relations with some of their regular clients. In this research, KMPlus shared their communication strategies in fostering cooperation with their regular clients, those are:

Mind set of communication. It is a method or way in which KMPlus want to build a good and effective communication with the client. These attitudes instilled by the team KMPlus in interacting or working with clients
Skill set of communication. It is a communication skills or abilities possessed by team of KMPlus about communication techniques. Every person and company has its own model or ways of communicate. These different types of communication must be recognize and use by KMPlus to maintain their business relationship
Communication tool set. It is a tool or means employed to communicate in fostering good working relationships effectively. Such as email, phone, or chat group. The most important thing in boosting interpersonal communication is maintaining trust one another

In strengthening internal communication in a team, KMPlus held weekly meetings. The purpose of this routine is clicking up to date current job or future programs. Evaluate the work, find out who is working on the ongoing project and give each other opinions and suggestions on the work team. Weekly meeting is considered effective in fostering communication within the team of KMPlus. In addition to discussing the work, to reinforce the sense of brotherhood and friendship in the team is necessary to maintain the cohesiveness of the occupation.

In this research, KMPlus provided data of its clients on how interpersonal communication uses and takes place in several companies.

Several large banking company in Indonesia use sharing method to improve communication between colleagues. One of the major banks says it ‘Doa Pagi’ or Morning Prayer. This activity conducts for 15 min every morning. Employees gather in one division and led by the head of each division. The morning prayer activity is implemented by all divisions within the company. Morning prayer has a lot of benefits of avoiding the problems and provides solutions to problems arising from the work. One of the major banks are also doing similar activities but only applied by one division. The goal of this sharing is to foster teamwork, improve communication between employees, discuss the work by each employee and draw lessons from the experiences of each other.

One of Gas Company in Indonesia does sharing activity called ‘Precise’. Precise is an activity that is done every morning for 15 min in which employees in their respective divisions get together to communicate or discuss the value of their work. Precise prioritizes the solution to the problem and avoiding personal problems of employees.

Some oil companies in Indonesia also have the same activity. There is a kind of informal meeting conducted by engineers to speak many things to each other in a relaxing time. This informal activity makes their communication smooth and forged a trust between them, thus, this condition creates their job performance better and increased.

There is also a form of communication in a company where they formed a chat group using the same devise. This kind of group is proven that it can creates a cohesive working environment and accelerate of speed up information from their office.

Researchers interviewed several employees who work in two large insurance companies and one large English Language Institution in Jakarta. Apparently, these companies have similar sharing forum like other companies mentioned. One of insurance company uses sharing program to achieve their goal as an agent. One such company has a program called Anugrah Agency held once a week for 2 hours and AMX are held 3 times a week. They obtain many benefits from this program such as refresh and recharge their energy to work and gain experiences from their colleague from a different point of view. They speak about problems, difficulties in work and give each other opinion and solution. Usually, there is one or two people share their journey to success as an agent in the forum.

One major insurance company also makes sharing forum which is held 2 times a week. The program’s name is VSM and VM3. The function of this forum is to motivate agents in order to improve their working performance. The company also held monthly meeting unit or meeting group. The goal is to motivate agents, couching them and evaluate their job. There is also a meeting so-called Class Role play in order to improve the skills of the agents.

An English non-formal institution that has been outstanding for more than 50 years and has many affiliates throughout Indonesia uses teachers sharing forum as a media to communicate and learning. They call it Teacher Forum. This activity is held once a week and attended by all the teachers of this institution. The forum was initiated by the teacher coordinator. The purpose of this forum is to exchange ideas of their job or project that has been run, share their problems and solutions. Another benefit of this activity is to increase brotherhood among teachers so that job performance is enhanced.

Community of practice: Zulaiha (2008) in Communities of Practice as an effective tool to share knowledge in an organization speaks on the importance of group discussion Directorate General of Budget in Ministry of Finance in Indonesia. Since 1998, this directorate general instructed its vertical offices in his domain to form a group discussion to review issues and solutions in each of the office. This group is called Gugus Kendali Mutu (in translation Group of Quality Control). They held this meeting once in a month. This discussion is very effective to the improvement of employees working performance, especially for new employee. The benefit that has been obtained by this meeting is employees could get to know each other and work problems could be solved by sharing to others. By exchanging information and experiences, employees gained much useful knowledge to work in a better ways and by the rules.

In a various conditions in Indonesian companies, the means or method that is considered effective and good in interpersonal communication is to create a forum for sharing or Communities of Practice. A community of practice is one of practical tools for fast learning in Holcim. This Swiss cement producing company applied this method of sharing to enhance communication among their employees. Although, Holcim employees are scattered across the world, they have often similar task. Communities are a platform where people from different group companies meet around a common topic of interest. They learn from one another, exchange knowledge and develop new ideas (Leibold et al., 2005).

Based on this result, it shows that Indonesian employee in cross-cultural management use sharing forum, informal meeting or community of practice as their method to enhance their job performance.


Based on interviews that had been done by researcher in various companies, it can be concluded that an effective way of interpersonal communication in improving employee working performance between foreign manager and Indonesian Co-Worker is to form a sharing forum, informal meetings or communities of practice. This is the way to communicate to others face-to-face. This method is considered effective because employees gain many benefits from these activities.

Sharing forum is not just a forum to communicate concerning jobs in a professional manner but also to foster a sense of brotherhood, unity and trust among colleagues and superiors. Sense of brotherhood and trust is the highest value for the Indonesian culture. It reduces stereotypes that have existed in both parties. Thus, it creates the atmosphere of mutual understanding and it can improve employees’ job performance.


For foreign managers in charge whom working or doing business with Indonesian people, researcher proposes the managerial implication of this research.

To be effective cross-culturally, it is important to be alert and sensitive to the needs, orientation, values and aspirations of other people (Notowidigdo, 2001). While there is no foolproof formula on how to achieve this objective, it would seem critical to listen and observe attentively, sensitively and nonjudmentally. Being tolerant, accepting and considerate are equally important. Foreign manager must strive to adapt to the culture, taboos and the language of their Indonesian colleagues. They should give the instruction slowly and clearly in Standard English and should ask for a paraphrase to ensure understanding (Deresky, 2011). As stated by McShane and Von Glinow (2010), empathy is the ability of a person to understand and be sensitive to the feelings, thoughts and situations with each other. For example, sensitive to the words which allows the ambiguity of trigger the wrong emotional response. Listening is an active process of sensing the signal from the sender, evaluating it correctly and responding it appropriately. That is why being sensitive and act as an active listener is crucial in cross-cultural management and a good start to blend with Indonesian Co-workers.

Respect and understanding to each other’s need is important to enhance job performance. According to Yuan Bin, President Director of Bank ICBC Indonesia, understanding each other’s culture builds a good relationship within all divisions of the bank. But the more important thing is to maintain the relationshipwhich is essential to keep the team solid. As a president director, he always support activities designed to increase awareness and respect of the two cultures. As stated by Elliot Davernas, the country manager of Englishtown Indonesia, being humble and respectful of the differences that exist are essential in his efforts to produce a beneficial cross-cultural work environment.

The effective interpersonal communication approach that can be done by foreign manager or entrepreneur to their Indonesian co-workers is doing face-to- face conversation. Fenton (2008) tells about nearly 40 years ago, the people at Hewlett-Packard created an expression for the communication strategy: Management by walking around (MBWA). This conversation cannot be done few times, yet several times, therefore it can build a familiarity and trust among others.

Sharing forum or informal meeting will be a good activity for employees across cultures. Thus, it will create understanding or attainment that desired by foreign manager with their Indonesian colleague. The grapevine works through informal social networks, so it can be more active when the employees have the same background and are able to communicate easily (McShane and Von Glinow, 2010). English first uses this method to conduct knowledge sharing.

If this activity is done routinely by the presence of all parties, then misunderstandings, stereotyping or mistrust that had been existed for a long time, can be replaced by mutual understanding and sense of brotherhood. This creates a sustainable working environment. Cross-cultural sensitivity works-or should work-both ways. Foreign managers must understand the culture and business customs of Indonesia and Indonesian managers must understand what will be expected of them by foreign managers.

For researchers who will conduct a similar study, it is recommended to look for other factors in finding other challenges in cross-cultural communication in Indonesia and provide solutions that can be done by both parties to do the same work.


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