Cultural Modeling using iWAM
Comparing Australia to the U.S. and U.K.
by Patrick Merlevede, jobEQ's leading researcher

What does iWAM teach us about Australia?

It's easy for some people to compare Australia to other English-speaking cultures such as the United States and the United Kingdom, and to expect few major differences, except the cultural prejudices about Australia being a vast and rough country. But we know some objective information might just open some eyes. Let's see what we can learn from iWAM.

Comparing the standard groups of several countries gives us several insights. Overall, many of the differences between Australia and the States are not as severe as the differences between the Americans and a group like the French. Even so, there are interesting findings to point out. One major difference is that Australians are more skeptical than Americans. Maybe we should add more evidence to this article to convince our American readers...Anyway, there are some other observations: Australians seem to be just as goal-oriented as a culture, but at the same time a bit more laid back (less likely to jump into action, more apt to reflect before doing). They are a bit more comfortable with having to work alone (doesn't come as a surprise given the size of the country). Australians seem less motivated by power and more by performance. At the same time, there is more interest in Australia for working with people, which doesn't fit with the "rough" stereotype. Perhaps the rest of the world has seen too much Paul Hogan and Russell Crowe. Of course, the workplace is rarely the subject of their movies. As for money, Australians are less motivated by it than the U.S. citizens. An Australian colleague told jobEQ, “Aussies don’t like the cutthroat approach. Lifestyle is important here,” which matches with the iWAM findings.

Some Aussies consider themselves quite different from the Brits as well. Once again, we can use the iWAM to get the objective answers. We have found that there is more difference between Aussies and Brits than between Aussies and Americans. For those of you who score high on the metaprogram patterns related to skepticism, this article offers some evidence: First of all, the British are more focused on non-verbal communication, and they are less individualistic, wanting slightly more to work with other people around them. So the rough edge of the clichéd image of Australia shows up a bit when compared to certain countries. The Australians are also more motivated by organization, and less motivated by power. Seems the Aussies have adopted a kind of underdog attitude: the underdog must organize themselves better, and it's performance, not control that counts. The people of Australia also seem to appreciate law and order more (there is less tolerance for non-conforming behavior in the workplace than we found in the U.K.). In the British work culture, money and working with people are more important, while Australians focus more on having the right tools and systems and making sure things get done by the deadline.

So what can we conclude from this? Prejudgements and stereotypes may be right or wrong, but they are all simplified general profiles. Cultures are complex, with an unlimited about of facets and variations. We must understand and adapt to each culture we communicate with. This adaptation is the biggest challenge when people go abroad (whether it is for vacation or business reasons). Some people judge everything that happens through their own style of work attitude and motivation. When you're in Australia, for instance, it looks like you can be a little more relaxed than you can in New York or London, focus less on money, and take a people-oriented approach. Learn what they do, and do what they do. And for the last time, stop watching those Paul Hogan movies!

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This data is provided by 103 people working in the U.K. and 84 people working in Australia who filled out the iWAM questionnaire on jobEQ's Web site between December 2000 and July 2002.

 
To learn more about cultural modeling, read the page about Value Systems & Cultural Fit
To get a graphical representation of the cultural differences in iWAM, see this page.
Or read some more background on standard groups.

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last modified: 2006/Nov/07 11:28 CET