Australian Business Structures

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.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Australia

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

Australia has been through an unprecedented period of quarter-upon-quarter GDP growth, mainly fuelled by the rapid growth of the Chinese economy and China’s seemingly limitless demand for the natural resources which are abundant in Australia. This export-led growth trajectory has been in efffect for a number of decades and has enabled Australians to enjoy an enviable lifestyle.

The benefits which have accrued from its relationship with China (and other Asian economies) have allowed Australia to develop a sophisticated service sector and at the same time build state-of-the-art infrastructure across the vastness that of a country that is also a continent. However, there is also some fragility inherent in that success – what impact might recession in China have on Australia? Would employment be severely damaged if such a recession were to occur?

If you are considering doing business in Australia – and there are many reasons why you should – you need to do some research on the business culture you are likely to find when you get there. Despite historic links to the UK many observers feel that Australian business culture is more akin to the way things are done in the US. At Global Business Culture we believe that Australia takes after neither the UK nor the US and that it has developed its own distinct and unique approach.

If you arrive in Sydney thinking you can do business in Australia in the same way it is done in any other culture, you are likely to be proved wrong. Australians have a strong sense of self-reliance and their business culture reflects that characteristic.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Australian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips