UPFRONT The other “Barbie”

Popular cultural wisdom sees the Kiwi character as somewhat Brit-like while Aussies are more American aligned – or are they?
The Australian community leadership organisation, Leadership Victoria, has taken look at Australian and US attitudes to life and come up with few reasons why the two cultures don’t entirely mesh. These are outlined in its 2004 Leadership Report, Different Galaxies? Living under the Stars and Stripes and Southern Cross.
Report author Noel Turnbull says: “There are some very real issues and trends that bind the two countries. We share sense of optimism about the future and we both value materialism and success. We even, mostly, speak the same language.
“Yet any leaders who believe these similarities mean one size fits all would do well to look again.”
For instance, Australians are less respectful of authority than Americans, trait Kiwis probably share. They are also less likely to be involved in religious or spiritual activities (37 percent Australians compared to 62 percent Americans). And they are less likely to show allegiance to major political party – 38 percent compared to 23 percent. They are more supportive of pluralistic, permissive values (57 percent compared to 45 percent).
More Australians (35 percent) put pleasure ahead of denial than their American counterparts (25 percent) and they tend to value youthful energy over the wisdom of age. Surprisingly, the research found Australians are 20 percent less likely than Americans to regard company respect for employees as an extremely important aspect of business performance.
Australia and the US appear to be converging in many areas, says Turnbull.
“But our leaders should not forget that Australians still live in world where ‘barbie’ is not necessarily doll, ‘snag’ is not automatically sensitive new age guy and ‘blue’ isn’t.”

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