What this Study on Peacebuilding in Indonesia Can Teach Us About Inculcating Cultural Wisdom into the Workplace | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

January 12, 2021by Anupriya Kukreja
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Summary of:

Hartoyo, H.Sindung, H.Teuku, F. and Sunarto, S. (2020), The role of local communities in peacebuilding in the post-ethnic conflict in a multi-cultural society, Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 12(1), 33-44. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-06-2019-0419

Background & Theory

Indonesia has witnessed a dramatic rise in ethnic conflicts since 1998, but the weaknesses of the peacebuilding methods used were identified post-2010. The country has ancient wisdom concepts that are embraced by multiple communities alike, such as the “Muakhi” tradition in Lampung, the “Pela Gandong” tradition in Maluku (Bakri, 2015), and the “Tepung Tawar” tradition in South Sumatra (Alfitri and Hambali, 2013). These have been adopted strategically by authorities to improve peacebuilding efforts, especially in rural areas. This paper is an effort to understand local, grassroots, and community peacebuilding efforts.

Research Question(s)

The author attempted to answer the following question:

    1. What are the effects of socio-demographic factors on ethnic tolerance (ET) and religious tolerance (RT) as well as the participation of the local community in peace-building in post-ethnic violent conflicts in a multi-cultural society?


The survey was designed specifically to determine the relationships between socio-demographic variables and Ethnic Tolerance (ET), Religious Tolerance (RT), and the level of participation in peacebuilding. Data was collected from five districts in Indonesia where the propensity for ethnic conflicts was high. A total of 500 respondents were surveyed. Two villages that had experienced ethnic conflict were selected from each district, and 50 respondents were randomly selected from each of them. In-depth interviews were also conducted with over 50 residents and 5 informants, who were either community leaders, local police officers, or local military officers.


The author found that the degree of tolerance is not determined by the socio-demographic characteristics of a region and that ethnic tolerance (ET) affects religious tolerance (RT). One of the most fascinating findings was that one’s education does not affect the degree of ET and RT. Cultural segregation also influences intolerant views, which makes it more permissive to violent behavior. Further, the researchers concluded that the socio-cultural approach based on local wisdom is the main strategy in peacebuilding in post-ethnic (and religious) violent conflict in multi-cultural societies.

How This Translates for the Workplace

  • Inculcate Diversity Training/ Messaging in Education: The authors concluded that one’s level of education does not necessarily ensure that they will be free from biases and prejudice. They confirmed that there are multiple modalities of getting educated- formal, informal, environmental, institutional, etc. A workplace is an environment where most employees do come from formal education, but may not be educated on inclusion and cooperation. In such a case, a workplace must take it upon itself to educate its employees frequently about social norms that help advance better teamwork, cooperation, and inclusion. We at PPS offer training for workplaces in diversity, inclusion, as well as conflict resolution. Contact us to get in touch!
  • Tap into Socio-Cultural Wisdom: Socio-cultural factors being one of the main forms of post-conflict reconciliation, the author referred to ancient wisdom traditions from within the Indonesian culture that helped their society achieve some levels of peace. At a workplace, an important way of embracing diversity is to inculcate wisdom from the various cultures that the employees come from, as far as possible. When it comes to the in-house narrative on inclusion, resolution, and peacebuilding, an interesting exercise can be to crowdsource quotes, anecdotes, and antics from the wisdom traditions of employees’ ethnic, religious, or national cultures and create a collection of those. Because they would be more personalized and familiar to the employees, inclusive of a multitude of cultures hence new and exciting, their behavioral adoption could also be much higher amongst employees, therefore leading to a more peaceful culture.

Anupriya Kukreja

Anupriya Kukreja is a graduate in Political Science and Psychology from Ashoka University in India. She has interned at Hospitals in their psychology departments and worked at reputed policy organizations, as well as been an Albright Fellow at Wellesley College. At PPS, she examines the latest research in international conflict and writes about how such methods may apply to conflict in the workplace. She is also a part of APA Division 48’s official Newsletter "The Peace Psychologist’s" editorial team. Her long-term career goal is to apply the lens of Behaviour science to Public Policy, Conflict Resolution, and Organizational Transformation.

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