Management Skills

May 2nd, 2007, in Business & Economy, IM Posts, by

Indonesians have poor management skills.

Tanri Abeng, the former minister of BUMN, the body that controls state owned business properties, says that the quality and effectiveness of management skills in Indonesia remains far short of what is required to bring the country into the First World, and things were getting worse in some respects. For example, Indonesia's competitiveness rank had fallen precipitiously from the late 1990's until now, he claims.

Tanri Abeng
Tanri Abeng.

Tanri Abeng (MBA, State University, New York) told a Leadership Management seminar at the Hasanuddin university in Makassar, South Sulawesi (Tanri's alma mater) that there were really no poor or backward countries, only nations that had poor management skills. Indonesians were not uncreative people, and presumably not coolies either, they just didn't manage things well.

Recently the Yayasan Indonesia Forum had set some ambitious economic development targets to be reached by 2030, they including a national GDP of $18,000, Indonesia becoming one of the five biggest economies in the world, and having at least 30 companies in the Forbes 500 list (currently Indonesia has only four companies in the Forbes 2000, starting at 835th). Tanri Abeng said such things could only be achieved if business management skills got some serious attention from all sectors of society. But:

The problem is the effectiveness of Indonesian management is still far from what is required to enter the ranks of the advanced countries.

Indonesia could become a "champion" in whatever field it chose to excel in, because it had great natural and human resources, it was free and had much "social capital", said the man who has held senior positions in Union Carbide, Multi Bintang, and Bakrie Brothers [1]. Tanri said if all the positive things were managed properly it would bring about the realisation of "Indonesia Incorporated". [2]


34 Comments on “Management Skills”

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  1. avatar guebukanmonyet says:
    May 2nd, 2007 at 3:23 am

    I agree with this guy. Indonesia doesn’t have a good managerial skill. Everything is done with “gotong royong.” I’m not saying that gotong royong is bad, a good managerial skill can be considered as part of gotong royong if we think deeper.

  2. avatar Andrew says:
    May 2nd, 2007 at 6:58 am

    I have to agree, too.

    Case in point: BPPT sends a lot of people to study abroad. I met a lot of them in the 80′s-90′s (maybe they still do now), and I knew most of them were smart people. They earned their Master’s degree as well as PhD, but where’s the result? Indonesia is still way behind its counterpart, not only economically, but also in the area of science and technology.

    I have a friend who was in that program back in mid to late 80′s – he was sent to the US and earned his doctorate degree, when he returned to Indonesia he found that there was nothing for him to do at BPPT – i.e. those smart people were left doing nothing in the office. There is no project, no well-organized research. NOTHING.

    What a waste of people’s brain, talent, and time, a waste of tax-payer money, too.

    Poor management skills? NO management skills.

  3. avatar Parvita says:
    May 2nd, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Clear example: our country is mismanaged if not managed at all! With all the resources, both natural and human, we are still one of the poorest country in the world!

  4. avatar Colson says:
    May 2nd, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Maybe first and foremost it is real sense of urgency and entrepreneurship that’s needs boosting.

  5. avatar Anonymous says:
    May 2nd, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Parvita,

    our country is mismanaged if not managed at all!

    your comment sounds a bit extreme. Managing a country is much more difficult than managing a company, for obvious reasons.

  6. avatar Andrew says:
    May 2nd, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Managing a country is much more difficult than managing a company, for obvious reasons.

    Definitely, but some of the evidents point to almost ZERO attempt to manage.

  7. avatar Arema says:
    May 3rd, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Tantri Abeng’s comment is spot on. And it not only applies to industries but also to the government!

    I do believe Indonesia have numerous smart guys, and potentially numerous smart managers too. Beside poor education, I think the actual problem lies in:
    1) Severe brain drain. Smart Indonesian have no incentive to work in their own country. Low pay, less opportunities to learn (we are so lagging behind in terms of technology), and discrimination (for the Chinese and non-Muslims). Couple this with an ever-weakening sense of belonging to Indonesia (people are sick of Indonesia), then we have one great recipe for brain drain.

    2) Weak enforcement of law. Maybe I should say no enforcement. Hukum cuma jadi pajangan. How can a company grow without the support of their country? Bringing a matter to the court will only bring more injustice, then what for? The only law that exists in Indonesia is the law of the jungle, where the strong-but-not-necessarily-smart rules, and the smart-but-not-strong keeps on regretting the decision, suffering, and finally fed up and left the country.

    3) Too many unnecessary factors interfering. People put their own interest and their group interest above their logic. We have seen enough in this forum so it’s not necessary to elaborate.

  8. avatar Zkel says:
    May 3rd, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Smart Indonesian have no incentive to work in their own country. Low pay, less opportunities to learn (we are so lagging behind in terms of technology), and discrimination (for the Chinese and non-Muslims).

    Well said. Totally agree with you except for discrimination for Chinese and non-Muslims, I would also like to add Muslim women with headscarf as well. I have to say that Indo still put emphasis on appearance and “sistem saudara” when hiring new employees.

    I see more indo girls wearing hijab in Sydney working as professionals and earning good money than in Jakarta.

  9. avatar Sputjam says:
    May 3rd, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    Lack of discipline and work ethics can easily be overcome by making children go to school at an earlier age.
    The education ministry should initiate a school programme for this. And faith should be confined as a personal matter and not taught in the school curriculum.

    4 years old seems like a suitable age to start schooling in the new millenium. Even now, my three year old is bored to death at home and wants to start school immediately.

  10. avatar Arema says:
    May 3rd, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    4 yrs old? Why not enrolling her to a kindergarten?

    Lack of discipline and work ethics can easily be overcome by making children go to school at an earlier age.

    Can you elaborate? I can’t see why going to school earlier will improve discipline and work ethics.

  11. avatar Bas says:
    May 4th, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    The only way for Indonesia to be in the five biggest economies in the world in 2030 is a global atomic war destroying almost totally most of the developed countries and not touching Indonesia.
    That’s may be why Indonesia supports the Iranian race to the bomb?

  12. avatar WP says:
    May 7th, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    The group assumed these parameters: economic growth 7.26%, inflation rate of 5% and a population growth rate of 1.1%.

    Firstly, these numbers are very optimistic. With a corrupt government, unstable politics, inefficient economic infrastructure, majority of population are low educated, I don’t see how we can sustain 7.26% for 20 years period.

    The only way to do that is probably by burning our natural resources. But if at the end of 2030 we still end up with 300 million uneducated people, this is just suicide.

    Secondly, in 30 years time:

    * We’ll have no oil.
    * Possibly also no forest.
    * The climate is probably harsher –> more extreme rains and draught.
    * There is no indication that our technology will leap sufficiently to compensate the above problems. Our research budget is laughable; and that’s being split over many small insignificant projects.

    I bet they just ‘forget’ to include these into their calculation.

  13. avatar Cukurungan says:
    May 7th, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    Indonesia doesn’t have a good managerial skill.

    Totally I don’t agree.
    It is not the matters skill or not skill but the matters of the Irlander Mentality passed down to generation even formally we already got independent but We have only very little confidence toward their own anak bangsa.

    See how Government of Malaysia treating their pribumi professional, they’re fully confidence that their own matters should be managed and controlled by theirs own Indigenous professional and if they haven’t expertise to do it, they were hiring foreign professional and those foreign professional mostly now Indonesia engineers with experience at least 10 years but they were working under supervision fresh graduate Malaysia Engineers. The little brother said we paid you much money so you must be thanks to us (Malaysia) and from the outside it seemed like the professional worker but in Malaysia Eye you are only TKI who work because the little brother blessing and no any better than that.

    In the contrary, in our beloved country as long as you have blue eye and blonde hair or India/Japan Origin, you will be automatically acknowledged by us that you’re smarter than us and you will be assigned to keep your eye upon us bangsa with Irlander Mentality “tanya kenapa”.

  14. avatar Naga says:
    May 8th, 2007 at 11:26 am

    “See how Government of Malaysia treating their pribumi professional, they’re fully confidence that their own matters should be managed and controlled by theirs own Indigenous professional and if they haven’t expertise to do it, “

    The NEC policy was designed to keep racial harmony throughout Malaysia and was a racist tool designed to maintain Malay superiority.

    The Malays are amongst the INCOMPETENT managers of anything in the world; hence they cannot compete in competitive markets such as Singapore. Their laziness is legendary.

    “In the contrary, in our beloved country as long as you have blue eye and blonde hair or India/Japan Origin, you will be automatically acknowledged by us that you’re smarter than us and you will be assigned to keep your eye upon us bangsa with Irlander Mentality “tanya kenapa”.”

    This has occured because most foreigners generally work harder and are more honest than locals, sorry, but that’s the truth. They are less likely to steal money from the company, more likely to accept responsibility and more likely to manage things competently and honestly.

    Until Indonesians understand that hard work and honesty lead to overall and long-term prosperity, rather than wasting time praying for something to happen, then things will never change.

    Indonesians need to learn to embrace education and training for learning’s sake; right now, people just want titles and all the privileges that go with them, not the intangible benefits that actually contribute to development and growth.

  15. avatar Dimp says:
    May 8th, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Cuk,

    What you are saying actually confirms that Indonesians don’t have managerial skills. No matter how you look at it, mentality or knowledge or experience, the Indonesian government lack these skills.

  16. avatar Cukurungan says:
    May 9th, 2007 at 7:39 am

    Dimps,

    Indonesian is the most smarter manager on earth and many of them even can manage $1/day to feed 7 of their family members.

    The only different with Malaysia Manager, we have been using our intelegensia and all our effort how to take benefit for ourself, for our family for our group not for the best for the country.

    Naga,

    I have been working with many big multinational companies include Japanese and American Companies. Don’t talk bullshiit that the foreigneer don’t steal the money because hehehe I was learn from those foreigner how to steal money from the company safely.

    I agree with you that The Malays are amongst the INCOMPETENT managers of anything in the world but because their Government trusted on them and they were working in the best interest of their own country at least Malaysia condition is far far far better than us.

  17. avatar Arema says:
    May 9th, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Naga:

    This has occured because most foreigners generally work harder and are more honest than locals, sorry, but that’s the truth. They are less likely to steal money from the company, more likely to accept responsibility and more likely to manage things competently and honestly.

    Until Indonesians understand that hard work and honesty lead to overall and long-term prosperity, rather than wasting time praying for something to happen, then things will never change.

    Indonesians need to learn to embrace education and training for learning’s sake; right now, people just want titles and all the privileges that go with them, not the intangible benefits that actually contribute to development and growth.

    Well said. I agree with you Naga. Let’s say one of our fellow IM-ers suddenly step up and say, “Alright brothers and sisters, we have had enough, we have seen enough, and we have seen nothing has been done. And enough is enough. Let’s form a political party and try to turn the tables, but I need your participation”. Will you join him/her? Or will you say “finally, but sorry I have my own agenda, good luck!”?

    We whine, whine, whine, complain, complain, criticize, criticize, blame, blame, point finger here, point finger there, but once the question “anyone dare to stand up and sincerely fight for Indonesia?” is asked, suddenly everyone turned quiet.

    Indonesia never lacks management skills or capable managers. It’s just capable Indonesians that should have managed the country are doing something else.

  18. avatar Andrew says:
    May 10th, 2007 at 1:58 am

    It is interesting to notice that Indonesians are quick to point fingers, but is very slow in making accountability a concept in life. People point fingers at each other, but in the end nothing gets accomplished to prevent the same thing from happening again.

  19. avatar Dimp says:
    May 10th, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Hi Cuk,

    Indonesian is the most smarter manager on earth and many of them even can manage $1/day to feed 7 of their family members.

    If you are actually a smart manager, then you should be thinking why he can only manage to obtain $1, and think on how he can increase his income. Then start to save some money if possible then utilise the savings into a income-generating plan. Indonesians are not smart manager, if they get $1/day, they spend $1/day, if they get $100/day, they spend $100/day, some of them actually spend more than what they earn, just to show what they can afford.

    You know what the main difference between Indonesians and other countries? They know what their capabilities are, while Indonesians think of “gengsi” first without thinking of what their “actual” capabilities are.

  20. avatar Naga says:
    May 11th, 2007 at 10:59 am

    “Indonesia never lacks management skills or capable managers. It’s just capable Indonesians that should have managed the country are doing something else.”

    I agree, but until a culture of accountability and acceptance of responsibility becomes a reality, then nothing will change.

  21. avatar Cukurungan says:
    May 11th, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Dimp:

    You know what the main difference between Indonesians and other countries? They know what their capabilities are, while Indonesians think of “gengsi” first without thinking of what their “actual” capabilities are.

    Cukurungan:

    I didn’t think so because the most Indonesia pribumi haven’t gengsi at all, see who are they became slave in the middle east, see who are they became Malaysia Jongos. If Indonesia pribumi has what so called gengsi or dignity, they won’t becomes slave in their own country.
    See how Malaysia Pribumi, they have “gengsi”, they don’t want to becomes slave and take care the dirty job because there is available for them Jongos came from their big neighbors country.

    You can see by yourself who has better economic shape Indonesian without gengsi or Malaysian with gengsi.

  22. avatar Janma says:
    May 11th, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Somehow I don’t think that gengsi is dignity. It’s something else, maybe like in the west we would say “keeping up with the Jones’” or pride, more than dignity.

    In some ways Indonesians don’t have gengsi, they don’t want to push themselves to be the best in anything but they do have gengsi when they want to strut their non-existent stuff. I watched a circus show on TV and they had a childrens acrobat troupe over from China and then they had a troupe from Indonesia. Needless to say the chinese troupe were amazing, they don’t just stand on their heads on bicycles, but they balance fans and wash dishes while holding their friend on one ankle. LOL but you get the picture, the Indonesian kids were confined handstands and backflips and wheelies, though with flowers to make it fancy. AT the end of the show the Indonesian MC just couldn’t handle it that the chinese kids were better. He kept going on about how good the Indonesian kids were and the chinese kids weren’t mentioned at all.

    Also in Bali, gengsi is the lifeblood of religion. Who can make the tallest banten, who has the biggest and best sangga or prada decoration. Who can turn up in the best car etc.
    Putu Setia wrote in his book about Bali that when he was in Bali he offered some of the unemployed men in his kampung money to start a business, like make a bakso cart for the afternoons in the desa so that everyone who complained about javanese wouldn’t have to buy bakso off of them but could buy ‘balinese bakso’. He had no takers! None of them would do it, gengsi banget! they said “mending minta nasi sama tetangga daripada kerja gitu.” (better I beg rice from my neighbour than I work like that.) So is that not gengsi? Full of it here. Just try to have balinese staff and if you have the poor sense to hire a high caste balinese he will force your lower caste workers to do things for him while he sits around ‘jaga gengsi.’

  23. avatar Dimp says:
    May 11th, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Cuk,

    I didn’t think so because the most Indonesia pribumi haven’t gengsi at all see who are they became slave in the middle east, see who are they became Malaysia Jongos. If Indonesia pribumi has what so called gengsi or dignity, they won’t becomes slave in their own country.
    See how Malaysia Pribumi, they have “gengsi”, they don’t want to becomes slave and take care the dirty job because there is available for them Jongos came from their big neighbors country.

    You can see by yourself who has better economic shape Indonesian without gengsi or Malaysian with gengsi.

    Actually they slave themselves in other countries so they can buy ‘gengsi’, just check out when they return, they actually spend almost of what they have earned buying luxuries like mobile phones, Jeweleries, they actually prefer to be ‘slaves’ to buy ‘gengsi’.

    They don’t want to work hard, they don’t want to become farmers, planting ricefield as they consider these to be ‘kampong’ they go to big cities dreaming of all the luxuries and then every Lebaran they go back and show off these luxuries to their relatives, and then the cycle continues.

    I also agree with Janma, gengsi is way off with dignity, a person with dignity don’t need to “keep up with the Joneses”. He/she doesn’t have to buy all the latest item just to show off.

  24. avatar WP says:
    May 11th, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    They don’t want to work hard, they don’t want to become farmers, planting ricefield as they consider these to be ‘kampong’ they go to big cities dreaming of all the luxuries and then every Lebaran they go back and show off these luxuries to their relatives, and then the cycle continues.

    I don’t think this is wrong. Desire to consumes stimulates market. :) People just should not forget to produce as well. And being labor farmers isn’t really productive; so thus far I can’t disagree. However, then people have to be *clever* as well. That is, inventing ways to produce a lot, with minimum effort.

    That is to say, that education and technology are they key to Indonesia survival; *if* we can get them fast enough now, since the clock of population growth, and oil shortage is ticking.

  25. avatar Cukurungan says:
    May 15th, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Dimp,

    At the current condition, work as farmer in Java island are very bleak because they couldn’t earn even just for their basic need, the ratio between farmer and land is not possible to develop the economic scale farming and our countrymen like me is not because “gengsi” working in the big cities but rather to get enough foods on the table. Whereas farmer on the outside Java also wasn’t promising because the difficult access to the market.
    TKW and TKI spending were mostly for the house renovation and purchase land for securing their incomes, you can check by yourself there’s many new house alongside roads WLINGI to BLITAR with big banners “MALAYSIA INDAH”, “BRUNEI INDAH”, “TAIWAN PERMAI” that is theirs jokes to this government.

    Back to the points Gengsi is important but be SMART is very very important, let check Philipino they’re mostly well educated and they’re also known hard workers but checked theirs condition is far behind the malaysian people (sok gengsi people) why like that, it is very simple answer Philipino and Indonesia pribumi mentality are no different both of them inherited “Pariah Mentality”.
    They have no confidence with their own capability while Malaysia people is lucky they have a leaders who cares to restore back “Melayu Gengsi”.

    Melayu don’t need to becomes tukang batu, sawit farmer and laundry cleaner but Melayu shall own theirself of the building project, sawit farming and the oil and gas business with the slave workers from their neighbors country.

  26. avatar Dimp says:
    May 15th, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Hi Cuk,

    If farming is not looking good, then again it is back to the management skills of the Indonesian government, we use to be one of the best farming / plantation country, we export rice, rubber, spices, coffee. So why we cannot do the same now? Worse we actually have to import rice, soy and other staple product that we as a “farming” country should not rely to other countries.

    So everything is back to the management skills, you can argue that the Pinoys are worse off than the Malays, but again that proves that the Malays have better management skills than the Pinoys.

    As for spending, it is good if the money they obtain is used to improve their life, but as you can see a lot of Indonesians still prefer to spend-spend-spend rather than save.

  27. avatar Cukurungan says:
    May 15th, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Dimp,

    As I said in the beginning, it is not the skill issue but the goodwill issue. If the bulog money spent to maintain the Indo rice prices it mean no influx money to their own pocket but if those money is used to import the excessive rice from Vietnam then the money will be available for their istri & anak hence who care with petani miskin which even never exist in their mind.

    I believe that the skill of Philipino and Indonesia Leadership are not below their Malaysia partner but their concern is different while Malaysia Leaders top concern is welfare of their countrymen whereas the our leaders concern is welfare their own families or AJI MUMPUNG while in power take every money as much as possible to ensure 7 of their generations is free from “hidup miskin”.

  28. avatar Dimp says:
    May 16th, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Hi Cuk,

    If the government realise that the people in charge have issue with “goodwill” then the government should manage these people in charge. As you can clearly see even when the ministers are proven to be incompetent (eg. Hatta Rajasa), the government has not stood him down, instead move him to another department, this is clearly a lack of management skill.

    If you think that the leadership has no concern of our welfare then again it shows that they have no management skills, they only think in a short period, while people with a good management skills will try to keep the people happy which in turn will keep on voting for the leaders.

    As you can see people are not happy with the current leadership as they show no / little concern to the common people. If a good company sees that a manager show no / little concern to its worker then he / she will be sacked.

  29. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:
    May 16th, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    “MALAYSIA INDAH”, “BRUNEI INDAH”, “TAIWAN PERMAI”, “INDONESIA GENGSI”.

    Malaysia Indah: Malaysian Malays are riding on Chinese and Indians’ back. They are lucky because they have enough Chinese population to help them work and they pocketed the wealth. With just over half of the total population of Malaysia, they even have the cheek to claim priviledges and rights as Bumiputras. We could be like them, but alas, we have only 3% Chinese.

    Brunei Indah: Bruneian Malays are lucky and they owed it to the British. With the onslaught of the Dayaks against Malay migrants during the last century, the British craved out a land for them at the expense of the Dayaks. Dayaks are not consider as pribumi in their own land, Brunei. Thanks to the British.

    Taiwan Permai: They all suffered inferior complexity. They are Chinese but rather think of themselves as Japanese. Anyway, they have Chinese blood and are hardworking, AND blessed because they don’t believe in Arabian fairy tales.

    Indonesia Gengsi: Namun hati Indonesia gengsi, tapi mahu.

  30. avatar Cukurungan says:
    May 17th, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Aluang:

    Taiwan Permai: They all suffered inferior complexity. They are Chinese but rather think of themselves as Japanese. Anyway, they have Chinese blood and are hardworking, AND blessed because they don’t believe in Arabian fairy tales.

    Cukurungan:

    Don’t connect at all because “Taiwan Permai” means those TKI build or renovated their homes not from Indonesia rupiah (Government Effort) but it obtained by theirs earnings in Taiwan.

    In these earth no human more get blessed than who really believe “Arabian tales”, God give Malays for their riding Chinese and India, God give Melayu Brunei the dayak land and oil and God give Arab Gulf and Saudi oil and workers from around the world plus slave from Java so the Arab, malaysia and brunei don’t need to work hard but their prosperity are not below the pork eater people who work 28 hours/day.

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