Australia vs. Netherlands Essay
Australia vs. Netherlands
Assignment 1: Cross-Cultural Dimensions
Describe the effect of the cross-cultural dimensions of both Hofstede and Trompenaars on two subjects for both your home country as the country of your internship Trompenaars
1. Universalism vs. particularism
2. Individualism vs. collectivism
3. Neutral vs. emotional
4. Specific vs. diffuse
5. Achievement vs. ascription
6. Sequential vs. synchronic
7. Internal vs. external control
Leadership in Australia is very much based on rules. Therefore, clear instructions are given to the employees at all time, so that every single employee knows what he or she has to do. Because of the individualism, people all work for themselves. Together, however, they make sure the organisation’s result is positive. Group work is not really integrated in the Australian culture. Australians have the perception, because of their neutral character, that people can work together perfectly, without bonding in their personal lives. All of the above leads to a straight leadership. A manager talks to his or her employees to tell them what they have to do individually. No groups have to be monitored, so the manager can really concentrate on his own task and organise the workforce per individual. Organisational culture
The organisational culture in Australia is also based on this individualism. As mentioned under ‘leadership’, Australian people mainly work individually. They believe that people should take their own decisions and must be self-reliant within a business and not dependent on managers or colleagues. Furthermore, the organisation is very strict. It is a loose and indirect organisation up to a certain extent. The communication between people within the organisation is very informal and direct. At the same time, the whole organisation is based on rules. Rules are more important than relationships according to the Australian culture.
1. Universalism vs. particularism
2. Individualism vs. collectivism
3. Neutral vs. emotional
4. Specific vs. diffuse
5. Achievement vs. ascription
6. Sequential vs. synchronic
7. Internal vs. external control
The Dutch leadership is based on the universalism, in other words on strict rules. Everything is determined with rules. However, the atmosphere at the working place is not strict. The communication from manager to employees is direct and formal. Employees know exactly what they are up to and can work on their work individually. Leaders trust their employees in this, they count on their employees to be self-reliant and independent in their work. Furthermore, Dutch managers work with strict deadlines. The Dutch culture is very much based on punctuality. They eat at 6 o’clock, they go to sleep at 11 o’clock. The same counts in the business-life. When a task is given to you, you are to make sure it is finished before the deadline set. Whenever possible, leaders give their employees reassurance that they are doing a good job. Employees also need this positive feedback to boost their self-confidence, which gives them a positive ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude. Good performance is appreciated and rewarded. Organisational culture
The organisational culture is mainly individual. The Dutch people want every single person to be happy. Therefore, they tend to give feedback all the time to boost self-confidence, they let everybody do their say in a discussion, etc. Furthermore, everybody is expected to have their work done before the set deadline. Dutch people are very punctual and therefore do not like people who show up late at meetings or who hand in their work too late.
Next to these strict deadlines, almost everything is based on rules. Even to such an extent that rules come before relationships. Dutch people work together individually, which means that by all doing their work in the right way, they deliver a good organisation-wide result. Conclusion
According to the cultural dimensions of Trompenaars, the Australian and the Dutch culture are very much alike. They only differ in one category, namely the internal vs. external control, where the Australian focus more on internal control, whereas the Netherlands concentrates more on external control. The other factors are all the same. Some are to a lesser extent, such as the achievement, which is far higher in Australia. However, it can be concluded that the Australian and the Dutch business culture are quite the same, certainly in the areas of leadership and organisational culture.
1. Power distance – 36
2. Individualism – 90
3. Masculinity – 61
4. Uncertainty Avoidance -51
5. Long-term Orientation-31
The hierarchical structure in Australia is nearly flat. To use Hofstede’s words: The power distance in Australia is relatively low. Managers are always easily accessible by employees and ask employees for their opinions. This kind of mutual information sharing leads to the best results for the workforce as a whole. If someone bosses the others around, a negative atmosphere arises and therefore the productivity might also suffer under these circumstances. This is not the case when information is shared on a regular basis, so that everybody knows what the company is up to and what is expected of him or her individually. This way, people can all work individually on what is expected of them and therefore, at the same time, deliver a good ‘group result’, because everybody does his own thing, so that everything is done eventually. People are not working closely together, because of the highly individualistic Australian culture, in which
self-reliance is expected of the employees. Organisational culture
The organisational culture is, as mentioned above, highly individualistic. There is some kind of cooperation, but this is not cooperation as we know it. Together, they make sure all the work is done, but this is not by really working together. The organisational culture is very transparent. Because of this transparency, every individual knows what is going on in the company and therefore knows what he or she is ought to do. Eventually, good individual work in all different departments adds up to a positive result in the organisation as a whole.
This result is reviewed every quarter, because of the short-term-oriented Australian culture This individuality is because of the masculine character of Australian people. All people want to be the very best. They want to reach whatever their capacity allows them to achieve. And preferably as quickly as possible. Therefore, they mainly work for themselves and mainly care about their own well-being and the organisation is of secondary importance. Still, this characteristic is seen as an asset by many companies. People are hired on the basis of their winners mentality. This can, of course, be a good characteristic, but it should not be exaggerated, because then it can go at the cost of the organisation as a whole, which is of course not the intention. Netherlands
1. Power distance – 38
2. Individualism – 80
3. Masculinity – 14
4. Uncertainty Avoidance – 53
5. Long-term Orientation – 44
The power distance in the Dutch organisations is quite low. The hierarchical structure is quite flat. This, together with the feminine culture means that employees can communicate with their managers properly and managers also communicate with their staff. Therefore, the atmosphere in Dutch companies is generally good. The managers do not boss people around and they even ask their employees for their expertise and feedback. From an employee point of view, they can talk to the manager to ask for feedback, but only up to a certain extent. The individualistic culture of the Dutch organisations means that employees should be self-reliant and take initiatives. Organisational culture
The Dutch organisational culture is one of punctuality, long discussions and impatience. First of all, the punctuality. The Dutch organisation is based on rules, punctuality and certainty. They want to avoid risk as much as possible and therefore try to make rules for everything, so that as little as possible can go wrong. The Dutch femininity means that they want the best for everyone.
Therefore, discussions are mainly solved by compromises, which usually takes quite some time. In masculine cultures, decisions are made without looking at the preferences of certain groups, but because the Dutch believe in solidarity and equality, they want everybody to have their say, which leads to long discussions with compromises as end results. The Dutch impatience can be seen in their goal-mindedness. They want results to be achieved as quickly as possible. Furthermore, they want to keep up with the competition at every single moment. Therefore long-term plans are seldom made. Strategies are often adapted to that of their competitors, which makes it impossible to set a long-term organisational strategy. Conclusion
Summarizing all of the above, the Australian culture and the Dutch culture do not differ that much. The only big difference is that the Dutch are feminine and the Australian are masculine, which makes the Australian organisational culture even more individualistic than the already individualistic Dutch culture. The Australians are more self-minded, whereas the Dutch want everybody to be equal and therefore do not take decisions themselves very often. When looking at the graph below, one can see that the two cultures do not differ all that much.
Assignment 2: Theoretical Models
Relate to theoretical models to describe the above mentioned effect. Flat organisational structure.
The model that can be found in both countries, Australia and the Netherlands, is the flat organisational structure. This means that managers do have a higher function, but do not act like they have a higher function. The flat organisational structure is the opposite of a highly hierarchical structure as described in Max Weber’s ‘bureaucratic organisation’ 1. In hierarchical structures, the organogram has several layers from top to bottom, whereas the flat organisational structure has one layer, in which the managers are besides the employees that work in lower functions.
This means that managers and employees in lower functions work closely together. The employees can easily go to their managers to talk about business-related cases and the manager trusts on his or her employees’ expertise in the problem-solving of the organisation. This way, as Argyris also describes in his theory of adult personality2, a great mutual understanding and respect is created between managers and their employees. This mutual understanding and respect leads to a more positive attitude of all employees, which leads to better results for the organisation as a whole. Maslow’s theory of human needs
A big difference can be found, when looking at Maslow’s theory of human needs. Maslow’s theory is based on two underlying principles, namely the ‘deficit principle’ and the ‘progression principle’. Mainly in the ‘progression principle’, there is a difference between Australia and the Netherlands. First of all, which are the human needs Maslow is talking about? In the ‘progression principle’, Maslow says that a need at any level is activated only when the next-lower-level need is satisfied3. In this definition, there is of course no difference. However, in the hierarchy of these needs, there is a difference. Because of the competitive character of Australian business people, as a result from their masculine background, the self-actualisation need in Australia is far higher than in the Netherlands, where people often still work together. Self-actualisation is the 5th need in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Based on this higher self-actualisation in Australia, however, one can wonder if this is the fifth need in Australia as well.
Assignment 3: Cross-Cultural Differences Find out what the most important work related cross cultural differences are between your home country and the country of your internship. Explain them based on the cross cultural dimensions. Masculinity vs. femininity
One of the biggest differences between the Australian and the Dutch business is the masculinity of Australia versus the femininity of the Netherlands. Australian masculinity is expressed in the urge of Australian people to be the best they can be and to reach the optimal allocation of their own strengths. Australian managers also pay attention to what people have achieved in the past, when hiring people. This makes the Australian market much more competitive than the Dutch market, because the Australian market is goal-oriented. This results in employees taking their own decisions, without consulting others. Contrary to this quick and efficient decision making, the Dutch tend to discuss problems with everyone until a compromise is reached. This is a highly feminine characteristic. Dutch people want to reach a consensus, before they take decisions. Internal vs. external control
Another big difference between the two business cultures is the internal control versus the external control from Trompenaars, in which both countries differ. The internal control in the business culture of Australia is mainly recognisable in the behaviour of Australian managers. They tell their employees what to do and they trust that the work will be done before the determined deadline. They do not support their employees along the way or give them feedback on the work they are doing. The external control in the business culture of the Netherlands is mainly recognisable in the supportive behaviour of Dutch managers. They provide people with the right resources to do their job properly and afterwards give them feedback several times along the way. The Dutch employees are more ‘dependent’ on the help and constructive feedback of their managers/leaders. This gives them the self-confidence to do their work with a positive attitude. Wages
The wages in the Netherlands are more fixed than the wages in Australia. In most Dutch businesses, people get a fixed salary, whereas in Australia, the salary is a low basis salary with on top commissions, which are linked to your performance. In some Dutch businesses, the strategy of incentives, bonuses or commissions is used as well, but in Australia, this wage strategy is quite common. Therefore, the Australian market is more competitive than the Dutch market. Australians have to sell products to get high wages, whereas Dutch business people know that whatever they sell, they will get the same salary, which provides much more security than the strategy the Australians tend to use.
Do’s Be selfish; work by yourself and in this process, try to be the best you can be. This can lead to a higher salary because of commissions as well. When you do not grab chances, others will. Clearly state your qualifications; make a clear CV, in which you state everything you have done in the past that could be in any way relevant for that specific job. Be decisive; expect less monitoring than you would get in the Netherlands, so sometimes you have to take your own decisions. Be self-confident; Australian managers, as opposed to Dutch managers, expect that you can perform a task from start to finish without feedback along the way. Don’ts
Expect extensive support; Australian managers do not give feedback along the way, whereas in the Netherlands this is usual. Try to reach a consensus; in the Netherlands, decisions are mostly reached by consensus, do not try this in Australia, where decisions are mainly made individually, quick and efficiently. Expect fixed wages; wages consist of a basis salary and bonuses or commissions, that are granted for good performance.
Assignment 4: Questions/Hypotheses
Clearly define at least two challenging business oriented questions/hypotheses which you want to have answered during your stay abroad. Hand in a clearly defined ‘ Plan of Action’ how you will come with the answers. Does the flat organisational structure also count for international interns? In other words, is an international intern also trusted for his or her expertise by people in higher functions? The best way to find this out is by going there and experiencing it. I want to go on an internship to really learn something, which is relevant for my future career in the business life. I am not going to Australia because of the nice weather and the white beaches. I am going to Australia to obtain relevant experience, which will be of great value for my career in business. Therefore, I want to get as important as possible within the company where my internship will be.
That is why I wonder how important they allow me to be. Do they really involve me in decision-making? In other words, am I treated as an equal or not? To find this out, I will interview an intern that has already been to Australia to discuss the organisational differences and which qualities are appreciated most in Australia. Afterwards, I will make up for myself, together with a colleague, an employer and a co-student, whether I have these qualities and how I can use these the best in a company where I start as a stranger. Lastly, I will of course try to get involved as much as possible and in this process, I will find out if they really give me the chance of becoming important. Can I function the same when I am 17000 km from home?
I am not only going to Australia to obtain working experience. I am also going there to grow responsibility and to obtain further social experience. I have lived with my parents for my whole life now and my stay in Marseille from September to December will me my first experience living on my own. However, from Marseille to the Netherlands is just 1100 kilometres, so if I need anything, I have the possibility to go home in the meantime. However, when I am 17000 kilometres from home, this is not a possibility anymore, so I really have to cope by myself. Another difference is that I am going to Marseille with two class mates. To Australia, I will be going alone, which makes is even more nerve-wracking.
My stay in Australia will be my first experience completely on my own, far, far away from home. So for me, it is, next to an incredible working experience, also a real life experience. I am going to grow responsibility and maturity, which will change me as a person. I am curious whether this will have its effect on my behaviour on the work floor as well and if this situation allows me to function the same as I would do here. This question, I plan to answer by setting up a list of competences, which I will let one of my current employers, one co-student and one colleague fill in. After my stay in Australia, I will give the same list of competences to my internship coordinator and a colleague in Australia. By comparing the results of these lists, I can find out whether there are many differences and whether they are in my advantage or in my disadvantage. Besides, I will, of course, experience it myself and describe the process of my self-development on a personal level as well as on a business level in a process report.
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