Australian organisations tend to be fairly non-hierarchical in their structure
A key Australian characteristic would be egalitarianism. It is very important that people do not give the impression that they think they are somebody special. It is much better to be seen as a ‘good bloke’ or a ‘good mate’ than somebody who is overtly proud of themselves and their achievements.
Coupled with this trend towards an egalitarian interpersonal approach is the influence exerted on Australian business thinking of US business modelling (some people would argue that this influence has been too slavishly followed whilst others argue the need for a more US-style entrepreneurial, risk-taking attitude amongst Australian business people.)
The combination of these two factors leads Australian organisations to be fairly non-hierarchical in their structure. Little attention is paid to titles and rankings within organisations, with status being ascribed through achievement rather than organisational position – you are only as good as your last decision or action!
Thus any international organisation looking to set up operations in the country would be well advised against introducing a mirror of the hierarchical structure they may employ in their country of origin – this could lead to annoyance on the part of Australian colleagues. Similarly, do not be too surprised if Australian business contacts seem wilfully disrespectful of hierarchy when working internationally – they are not being rude, merely acting in a consistent Australian manner.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Australia. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Australia and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: