Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Contrasts Between Americans and Australians

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Some basic differences between American and Australian cultures are




Social Structure

Optimistic and future-oriented

Higher degree of class structure

Categorize others by status

High degree of cultural pluralism


Relatively few class differences; sensitive to class distinctions

Cut the 'tall poppy'

Low degree of cultural pluralism

Cooperation and


Seek agreement

Need to be liked

Less assertive

Enjoy disagreement

Don't care what others think

More assertive

Trust and Respect

Based on position and qualifications

Based on assessment of one's character

Consistency and


Reluctant to accept contradictions

Not bothered by contradictions

Ideals and Principles

Idealistic but pragmatic

Less idealistic; expect a fair go

Styles of


Place importance on exact words

Objective, positive

Terse, noncommittal, understated

Language colourful, disrespectful, often profane


Appreciate informal, spontaneous humour in the right place

Disinclined to use humour under stress

Use humour frequently, often injecting a certain amount of cynicism or irony

Inclined to use humour under stress

Friendship & Interpersonal Relations

Value accomplishments of others

Friends and membership groups change easily

Relationships develop and end quickly without excessive personal disruption

Friendship seldom includes a strong sense of obligation

Value inherent qualities in others

Friends and membership groups take a long time to establish

Relationships are long-lasting and meaningful

Friendship involves a very strong sense of obligation

Inner-vs. Other-Directed


Evaluate behaviour based on things outside of self

More flexible


Evaluate behaviour based on one's own feelings and preferences

Less flexible

Women and Men

Less chauvinistic than in the past

Establishment of equity sought through legislative process (ERA)

Sexes mix freely in social gatherings

Still very chauvinistic but changing slowly

Women's admission to professions is limited

Sexes at parties etc., still separate

Commitment to work

Workaholic achievers

Work comes before friends

Overtime and extra effort accepted as part of the job

Value the amount done, assuming its usefulness

Laid back

Work rarely comes between friends

Overtime not accepted unless the reason is extremely important

Need to be convinced of usefulness before the value of work is seen


Conscious and concerned about standards

Litigation, forms, procedures and documentation standard

"Got to get it right"

Concerned (but not nearly to the same degree)

Less litigation, less documentation

'she'll be okay'


Respectful within limitations

Respect superiors

Like to be in control

Generally accept management decisions


Resent superiors

Resist control

Prefer to bargain with management

Decision Making

Top down; senior management has "big picture"

Assume subordinates have less to contribute to organisational decisions

Information need not be shared

Collaboration between management and employees

Assume subordinates share equal interests and capabilities

Information should be shared


Achievement is important and is related to ambition

Salaries and bonus very important

Achievement is not so important; position and honours are minimised

More free time very important, salary less so

Taking Risks

Cautious risk takers

Ready to have a go at a thing

Giving Credit

"Give credit where credit is due"

Expect praise

Only begrudgingly give credit

Do not expect praise

Pace of Life

Easy-going to fast

In a hurry to get places

"Doing" -oriented

Laid back to easy-going

Slow down the rush, enjoy life

"Being" - oriented


Uncomfortable with conflict

Avoid argument

Concerned about what others think

Comfortable with conflict

Invite argument

Not concerned about what others think

Labour Relations

(source: George Renwick, 1991)

Unionised but becoming less so

Informal arbitration

Official strikes generally at end of contract

Terms of dismissal unregulated

Highly unionised

Formal arbitration

Many strikes at advantageous times

Terms of dismissal regulated

NB It needs to be remembered that stereotyping has severe limitations as there are many variations within each group


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