Ringkar Situmorang

  • Ringkar SitumorangRingkar Situmorang is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia. He completed his PhD at the Oxford School of Hospitality Management in July 2017. His thesis title is 'Exploring Expatriation and Localization of Managers in the International Hotel Industry: A Case Study from Jakarta, Indonesia'.

    How did you hear about Oxford Brookes University?

    I found out about Oxford Brookes University when I was researching appropriate universities for my proposed research degree.

    What attracted you to Oxford Brookes University to conduct your research?

    The Oxford School of Hospitality Management (OSHM) at Brookes is very well-known in Indonesia. The majority of people connected to hospitality and tourism in my country would recognise the big name of OSHM. 

    What were you doing before?

    I was a full time lecturer at the School of Hospitality and Tourism in Pelita Harapan University in Indonesia for almost 6 years. Parallel to this, I was Deputy Head of the Hospitality Management Department for 5 years.

    Prior to my academic career, I held various positions in a number of companies in hospitality industry, working my way up from Waiter to Duty Manager in hotels such as Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Marriot, Radisson and Sonesta Hotel. 

    How easy did you find it to settle into the research environment?

    It was quite challenging for me as I hadn't been involved in a community as a student since I completed my MBA in 2000. I had to become familiar again with research activities as I found that many things had changed.  However, the type of research resources available in the UK in comparison to my home country of Indonesia, is incomparable. One thing that makes a significant difference is the ability to “access” academic journals or articles. In Indonesia to gain such access is expensive and limited. I also receive fantastic support in the UK from my academic supervisors and fellow lecturers, where I have the ability to have a one on one chat or cup of coffee with key people within Brookes OSHM or Faculty of Business in general.

    Tell us about your research project.

    My research focuses on how and why expatriate managers appear to be employed in preference to host country managers within the hotel and tourism industry. Accordingly, my research has focused on the preferences and approaches of stakeholders in the deployment and development of managerial talent in the International Hotel Industry in Indonesia, as represented in Jakarta. The data for the study will be derived from an investigation into the experiences of host country nationals, along with the practices of expatriate deployment in the industry. In accomplishing my research, I hope to develop a framework that will highlight the use of expatriates and the perceived role of local managers of the international hotel industry, and how these reflect the expectations and practices of policy makers in Indonesia. This, I believe, will lead to findings that illustrate the role and influence of both expatriates and local managers on managerial development within the context of the international hotel industry in Indonesia.

    Indonesia has yet to achieve its full potential as an international tourist location, even though it offers extraordinary potential in this area. Many people do not realise that the Republic of Indonesia is the biggest archipelago in the world, containing as many as 13,466 large and small tropical islands. These islands are  stunning places, fringed by white sandy beaches, yet many remain uninhabited, with a few even remaining unnamed. This is because the total area of Indonesia is vast. Sitting on the both sides of the equator, and located between the continents of Asia and Australia, as well as between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, Indonesia is as wide as the United States from San Francisco to New York. Its breadth equals the distance between London and Moscow. Among the best-known islands are Sumatra, Java, Bali, Kalimantan (formerly Borneo), Sulawesi (formerly Celebes), the Maluku islands (better known as the Moluccas; the original Spice Islands) and Papua. 

    Indonesia is also an ethically complex nation, with more than 200 ethnic groupings recognised in its total population of more than 249.9 million people. The national language, Bahasa Indonesia, is the language of official communication, which is taught in schools and spoken on television. Although the country counts more than 300 regional languages, most Indonesians speak two or more languages, including Bahasa Indonesia and their local language.

    Indonesia is a culturally diverse place; Islam is the major religion in Indonesia, but Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism are also well represented. Due to this uniqueness of culture, tourism has become an important sector in the Indonesian economy, not only as a source of foreign exchange and earnings but also as a means of enlarging job opportunities and creating income distribution for local inhabitants. It is anticipated that Indonesia’s huge potential for tourism development will go on to play an important and strategic role in Indonesian national development. The role of tourism as a driver of economic development is reflected in increasing national income, job creation, and business opportunities. 

    Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, was chosen as the context for this study for a number of reasons. Firstly, as the capital, Jakarta is considered one of the main tourist attractions in the country, both for business and leisure. The city is considered the centre of many MNCs (multi-national corporations) that have subsidiaries out-posted in other cities in Indonesia. Secondly, due to Jakarta’s superior infrastructure as Indonesia's capital city. Most MNC subsidiaries site their main office there, providing their headquarters with easy and reliable connections to smaller outposts. With the majority of MNC main offices being located in Jakarta, this also means many expatriate managers and regional executives are located there. Thirdly, as the main business city in Indonesia, Jakarta is a draw for local managers from all over the country who seek work in Jakarta as a means of advancing their professional development. Fourthly, Jakarta is the government centre for Indonesia, a factor which enables the researcher to access major policy makers. 

    All the data for my research project has been gathered and I am now at the stage of analysing it. The majority of data has been collected from semi-structured interviews with expatriates and local managers in the international hotel industry in Jakarta. Through conducting these interviews, I was able to benefit from a good network of contacts within the industry. All proposals to local managers were openly accepted and quite often they provided further support by finding additional participants within their own personal networks. If this networking had not taken place or had not been available, it is unlikely my research would have succeeded.

    When I was conducting my data collection, I received a very positive response from local managers and policy makers. The general consensus appeared to be that academics, hotel professionals, policy makers and people from various other industries needed to know what was happening in Indonesia, in terms of local hospitality management. Hopefully, my research will not only contribute to my own country but will add a valuable contribution to the wider research community. 

    What do you enjoy about being a research student?

    I came to Oxford in September 2012 with my family; my wife and 4 year old son. It was a challenge to begin with in making sure my wife and son had something to do.  Now however, my wife has a job and my son goes to school in Oxford, which has helped get all of us settled. My previous experience of living in the USA has helped me to overcome some of the common culture shocks, such as the weather, the food, and the general social community.

    What do you think about the research training offered at Oxford Brookes?

    I am extremely happy with the research training offered at Brookes, particularly not having been in an academic environment for such a long time. There are lots of training options available, from basic to advanced. I try to match what I currently need, with what I think I may need in the future, to the training options that I select.

    What are your future plans?

    My immediate plan is to finish my PhD. After that, I would like to return home and continue working in an academic environment, where I am able to instruct students on how to conduct their research and gain different insights into their investigations. My long term goal would be to write academic journals and articles around hospitality and tourism in Indonesia.