France and Indonesia are two different countries with different cultures, lifestyle and behavior.
It is so obvious that Indonesian is more traditional compared to French, where most Indonesian is scared to make mistakes and be judged by people around them yet French are more open to mistakes and judges from the surrounding. In this reflective learning, I will compare French and Indonesian by using Hofstede model. There are five dimensions in Hofstede’s theory, which are Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism/Collectivism, Masculinity/Femininity and Short-Term/Long-Term Orientation.Power Distance refers to the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power be distributed unequally. In French culture, in a family, children are given the freedom to experiment new things instead of being told to be obedient.
However, in Indonesia, we as children are told to be obedient and parents are less likely to give their children a freedom to experience new things. Most of the children in Indonesia especially in Medan are told to behave like the way the parents want them to.In French, the children are free to explore their surrounding, for instance when I was in Toulouse, I saw two children who did not know each other and from different races can be friend just in a second. This kind of situation will not happen in Indonesian, as parents are not allowed the children to talk to strangers, which banned us from being humble and open with our surrounding.
Uncertainty avoidance refers to the extent a culture programs its members to fill either uncomfortable or comfortable in un-structure situation.In this dimension, Indonesia has a medium low preference for avoiding uncertainty, which means there is a strong preference in Indonesia toward the Javanese culture regarding separation of internal self from external self. It had become a habit for Indonesian to keep our anger and negative emotions for ourselves; we will keep smiling and behave as well as we can, no matter how angry we are inside. On the other hand, French people are not keen on uncertainty; by planning everything carefully they try to avoid the uncertainty. In France there is a society that relies on rules, laws and regulations.One of the laws that Indonesia does not have is a law regarding the working hour.
In France, employees may not work more than 35 hours a week; thus, shops have to be closed at 7pm. However, in Indonesia, where there is no labor law and employees have to follow the rules given even the working hours and the payment is not balance. Besides, French people are hard on punctuality; they are very punctual while going to work and even attend function. On the contrary, Indonesian is having a totally different concept about punctuality.Indonesian often late yet they did not feel any of guilt, which has already become a ‘unique’ culture for Indonesian. Individualism refers to the culture in which the ties between individuals are loose.
Everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. As what I observed when I was in Paris, chairs outside restaurants are generally arranged singularly or in twos at most, and they are facing outwards. The French favor themselves and their privacy more as opposed to having the sense of belonging to a large group.In the work environment, the relationship with work is contract based, the focus is on the task and autonomy is favored.
The communication is direct and everyone is allowed to speak up, voice out his or her opinions even more if they do not agree. The management is the management of individuals and the recognition of one‘s work is expected. Collectivism refers to the culture in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in groups, often extended families that continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.This dimension can be found in Indonesian culture which individuals are expected to conform to the ideals of the society and the in-groups to which they belong. One place this is visible clearly is in the aspect of the Family in the role of relationships. For example, In Indonesia, if one wishes to marry, it is important to meet a woman’s family because the family is so important to her.
If a man wants to be taken seriously by a woman, he has to visit the latter's family and introduce himself formally to the parents of the girl.It is inappropriate to court a woman and formalize the relationship without informing the parents of the girl first. Another example of collectivist culture of Indonesia is in the equation between child and parent. Indonesian children are committed to their parents, as are the parents committed to them all their growing lives. Their desire is to make their parents' life easier. There is a desire to take care of parents and give them support in their old age.
There is an Asian saying that is accepted in Indonesia, "You can get another wife or husband but not another mother or father".This family loyalty is also apparent in the fact that Indonesian families keep elders (such as grandparents) at home instead of sending them to any institution. In individualistic societies the focus is on the nuclear family only. Masculinity refers to emotional gender rules are clearly distinct men are supposed to be assertive, tough and focuses on material success. In Indonesia status and visible symbols of success are important but it is not always material gain that brings motivation.Often it is the position that a person holds which is more important to them because of an Indonesian concept called “gengsi” – loosely translated to be, “outward appearances”.
It is important that the “gengsi” be strongly maintained thereby projecting a different outward appearance aimed at impressing and creating the aura of status. In feminine countries the focus is on “working in order to live”, managers strive for consensus, people value equality, solidarity and quality in their working lives. Conflicts are resolved by compromise and negotiation.Incentives such as free time and flexibility are favored. Focus is on well-being, status is not shown. An effective manager is a supportive one, and decision-making is achieved through involvement.
In contrast, Masculine countries and to an extent lower Masculine countries that do not score too low on the scale to be called Feminine countries, display the traits of the Masculine societies but in a lesser degree. Femininity refers to emotional gender rules to be modest, tender and concern with the quality of life.The French society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner or the best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organizational behavior. The dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable With its famous welfare system (securite sociale), their 35 working hours/week and 5 weeks holidays per year, France cares for its quality of life and focuses more on work in order to live than the reverse.
Competition amongst work colleagues is usually not favored as feminine societies have more sympathy for the underdog. And material signs of success, especially flashy ones, should not be too visible. The management should be supportive and dialogue should help resolve conflicts. Long-Term Orientation refers to the fostering of virtues oriented towards future rewards in particular perseverance and thrift. Indonesian can be considered in this dimension, especially the Chinese.
As a Chinese, my parents always taught me to save money for future instead of spend all of the money in fashions, parties and other unnecessary stuffs. As what I have been observed, some of the Indonesian can also be considered in short-term orientation especially the Bataknese. Short-Term Orientation refers to the fostering of virtues related to the past and present in particular respect for tradition, preservation of face, and fulfilling social obligations.French and some of Indonesian are consider in this dimension as can be seen in the way they dressed, many locals are seen frequenting major fashion outlets which implies in their purchasing behavior, which is driven by immediate gratification, sensitivity to social trends and rituals instead of saving. There is a great respect for tradition as well as a need for norms and absolute truth as guidelines. In terms of business this short-term orientation focuses on quick results, as example companies are driven by quarterly results.
Management is based on self-reliance, personal achievement, hard work and managers are judged on short-term results.