Why does my co-worker behave like this?

Indonesian guest lecturer Dr. Andika Pratama taught intercultural management at ESB

Lena Jauernig

Generally speaking, collectivism and individualism refer to how interdependent and independent people tend to be with regard to others in their culture. German culture is said to be more individualistic, Indonesian culture more collectivistic. But, “Germans tend to be more individualist on their social life level than on their family level and Indonesian people show a stronger collectivist orientation in their social life than in their family life,” an interesting finding from a student group in Intercultural Management taught by Dr. Andika Pratama.

Dr. Pratama normally teaches at School of Business & Management, Institut Teknologi Bandung (SBM ITB) in Indonesia. In 2018, however, he spent three months as a guest lecturer at ESB Business School of Reutlingen University.

In Reutlingen, Dr. Pratama taught “Intercultural Management” in the Bachelor programme International Operations and Logistics Management (IOLM) and “International HRM and Diversity Management” in the Master programmes International Accounting, Controlling and Taxation (IACT) and International Business Development (IBD).

The findings on cultural differences between Indonesia and Germany mentioned at the beginning, while should be understood with caution, are based on an exchange of ideas between ESB students and SBM ITB students. “The interaction perhaps means more than the finding itself. It embodies the art of intercultural sensemaking,” says Dr. Pratama.

This is one of many examples Dr. Pratama uses in class to discuss how cultural influences affect the way we work. “Sometimes we find ourselves wondering: Why does my colleague behave in a certain way? It is important to be aware that his or her cultural mindset might be the reason.”

Apart from people`s cultural mindset – what are the differences between Dr. Pratama’s permanent home Bandung and his temporary home Reutlingen? “Bandung has over 2.3 million inhabitants, it is the fifth-largest city in Indonesia (based on 2015 data) and is very densely populated. Reutlingen is more peaceful and you can walk or ride your bike everywhere”, says Dr. Pratama. But he also points out similarities “Both cities are surrounded by beautiful mountains and hills.”

Dr. Andika Pratama`s semester in Reutlingen ended in December 2018. His stay took place within the framework of the project „Business Engineering in South East Asia“ of ESB Business School in cooperation with partner universities in South East Asia. The project is sponsored by the DAAD with funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

In the context of the international guest lecturer programme, ESB Business School regularly welcomes lecturers from abroad.