If we explore the Australian culture through the lens of the 5-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Australian culture relative to other world cultures.
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. It has to do with the fact that a society’s inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.
Australia scores low on this dimension (36). Within Australian organizations, hierarchy is established for convenience, superiors are always accessible and managers rely on individual employees and teams for their expertise. Both managers and employees expect to be consulted and information is shared frequently. At the same time, communication is informal, direct and participative.
The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.
Australia, with a score of 90 on this dimension, is a highly individualistic culture. This translates into a loosely-knit society in which the expectation is that people look after themselves and their immediate families. In the business world, employees are expected to be self-reliant and display initiative. Also, within the exchange-based world of work, hiring and promotion decisions are based on merit or evidence of what one has done or can do.
Masculinity / Femininity
A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the “winner” or “best-in-the-field.” This value system starts in school and continues throughout one’s life – both in work and leisure pursuits. A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine).
Australia scores 61 on this dimension and is considered a “masculine” society. Behavior in school, work, and play are based on the shared values that people should “strive to be the best they can be” and that “the winner takes all”. Australians are proud of their successes and achievements in life, and it offers a basis for hiring and promotion decisions in the workplace. Conflicts are resolved at the individual level and the goal is to win.
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.
Australia scores 51 on this dimension and is a fairly pragmatic culture in terms of uncertainty avoidance. This means that both generalists and experts are needed. There is focus on planning, and they can be altered at short notice and improvisations made. Emotions are not shown much in Australia, people are fairly relaxed and not adverse to taking risks. Consequently, there is a larger degree of acceptance for new ideas, innovative products and a willingness to try something new or different, whether it pertains to technology, business practices, or foodstuffs.
The long term orientation dimension is closely related to the teachings of Confucius and can be interpreted as dealing with society’s search for virtue,the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view.
Australia scores 31 on this dimension and is a short-term oriented culture. As a result, it is a culture focused on traditions and fulfilling social obligations. Given this perspective, Australian businesses measure their performance on a short-term basis, with profit and loss statements being issued on a quarterly basis. This also drives individuals to strive for quick results within the work place. There is also a need to have the “absolute truth” in all matters.