Clash Of Working Cultures In Restaurant

Posted by binsar on 08 Dec 2007 at 12:04 pm | Tagged as: Article, Experience, Opinion

I’ve told you the story of my experience of working in Restaurant Selecta, now I’m going to give you a bit of analysis on the difference of woking culture in that restaurant. I’m going to use Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner theory on their book, Riding The Waves of Culture: Understanding Cultural Diversity in Global Business. This analysis was done in cooperation with Sally Siregar.

This restaurant is owned by a Dutch nationality, Chinese Indonesian by birth. The children of the owner are also working and even managing the restaurant. They are born as Dutch and have Dutch education, and know well what Dutch culture is. The working environment is a bit mix of two different poles in Trompenaar’s tools. Sometimes the working culture is even intertwined between the two sides. This makes the analysis on the restaurant working culture becomes interesting.

  1. Rules and relationship.

Dutch culture is more in the universalist type of relation. When you are walking towards a new working environment, a legal contract is ready for you and you will do your work based what has written on the contract. You can also see how employee greets each other and call the others their colleague. This means their type of relationship is strictly working relation.

In Dutch restaurant normally you’ll be hire as an employee based on your resume and the need on the restaurant it self. There are two types of job in the restaurant, achter (kitchen) and voor (serving). You will be hired based on the contract you have and you will do what you are meant to do.

In the example of the restaurant where I work, there is a mix between Dutch cultures of relationship with those of Indonesians who are the particularist. In the restaurant you can be hired based on your resume, but on the other hand you can also be hired because you are connected with someone who is already working at the restaurant regardless your resume. For Dutch citizens, their working contract at the restaurant are clear, if they are working at the back then they will work at the back. As for the Indonesian part-time student-worker they will place them where the restaurant needs them, which means could be at the front or at the back. People who work in the restaurant consider the other workers as friends and not just colleague.

  1. The group and the individual.

The Dutch culture in working is an individual type of style. The restaurant shows this when it comes to important decision making. The decision taker would only be the owner or someone who had been appointed as the person in charge for the day. Individuals are responsible over their own mistakes and faults. However, there is a sense of community feeling in the restaurant. For instance, sometimes the leadership for the day is taken by two or three person, and decisions are taken by small discussions throughout the opening time. One decision taken by one person can be cancelled after discussing it, one clear example about this is about deciding where the smoking section is and who will be in charge for the left or right section of the restaurants. Sometimes, the workers will have dinner together after work.

  1. Feeling and relationship.

The Dutch culture is an affective culture. They show what they feel through conversations and sometimes by being honest and blunt. They would look at you in your eyes when you have a conversation with them. This is the culture that was shown in the restaurant. The owner will be very clear and open about how they feel about your work. They will be openly state what they have in mind. While the workers mostly have neutral type and do not show how they think or feel. Sometimes they are not being open about how they feel. In a Dutch culture, when there is something wrong about the things that you should receive you will ask for it. You will have no hesitation to ask your rights from your boss, for instance to ask for extra money when you are working over time and ask for the amount of the tip. Most of the students working at Selecta are not clear about how they feel. They will hesitate to ask for their rights which the Dutch finds easy to say.

  1. Diffuse versus specific

The Dutch culture is a specific culture. They are very direct, to the point and transparent. They are also very specific in their work, this means that they are very specialized in their own field. For instance a car machine mechanic will neither do power window nor do body paint. Professor will be specialized in their fields and will refer to another when they were asked something that was not in their area of study. In the restaurant however, the working culture is a diffuse one. The concept of service in the restaurant is not only about good food, but it also consists good service, friendly waiters, relaxing environment, and how to make customers comfortable. Often in a restaurant where most of the waiters are Dutch we will not see them smiling often because the type of service is different from the restaurant where I worked. We are more like a Singapore airlines type of service than a KLM type of service.

  1. Achievement versus ascription

Dutch culture is an achievement-oriented culture. You will be rewarded according to what you have achieved. Age and gender are not included in how to accord one status. This also happens in the restaurant. Whoever who is more senior in the restaurant will be in charge and will get more salary than other. Age is not a thing, eventhough it becomes a source of consideration in making decision on deciding who will be in charge for the day, especially to deal with guests that are coming from Indonesia where they expect to deal with seniors of the staff.

In sum, the Dutch cultures that I found are more universalism, individualism, emotional, specific, and achievement type of how they relate to others. As I mentioned earlier, working in an Indonesian restaurant owned by Indonesian-Dutch, sometimes managed by their children, with employees mainly are Indonesia students with the opposite type of relating with others, are very interesting. The diffusion between the two is very interesting and show how difficult it is to make just one side of the judgment of the types in each case.

PS: Nevertheless, working in this restaurant was a very exciting and fun experience let alone we have new cool custome which I’ve never tried before.

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