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Intercultural Management - Austria

Being a Manager in Austria
Management Guide Austria

The business set up in Austria is conservative and hierarchical and to ensure successful cross cultural management, managers should attempt to conform to the rules and regulations that abound.

Intercultural adaptability requires an understanding of the importance of each person’s very distinct role within an organization. When managing in Austria, maintaining those roles helps to keep order. Always demonstrate respect and deference when dealing with people at a higher level. First impressions are important and you will be judged on your clothing and demeanor. Wear conservative clothes that are well tailored if you want to be treated with respect.

Managers make a great show of working hard, within the official working hours. Neither managers nor subordinates expect to work beyond the regular workday.

The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural communiciation will be more effective if you remember that in Austria managers are expected to provide explicit directions and ensure that their subordinates have the proper materials to do their jobs.

In Austria, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude toward their employees. They may demonstrate a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace and strictly professional concerns.

Approach to Change

Austria’s intercultural readiness for change is low. Austria is a low risk and low change tolerant culture, meaning that change is difficult to bring about. The underlying belief is that change may threaten the social fabric.

Of course, changes are made, but they take longer to implement and one should not expect individually-driven innovation, but significant team efforts where each step is thoroughly reviewed, analyzed and agreed upon by the group as a whole.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Austria is a controlled-time culture, and adherence to schedules is important and expected. In Austria missing a deadline is a sign of poor management and inefficiency, and will shake people’s confidence.

Successful intercultural management will depend on the individuals ability to meet deadlines and adhere to schedules.

Decision Making

People believe that their supervisors have been chosen because they have more experience than those they manage. Therefore, in general, they do not expect their managers to seek their concurrence in the decision-making process but are comfortable complying with those decisions.

Boss or Team Player?

Austrians like working in teams and collaborate quite well across hierarchical lines. The communication within a team is generally quite collegial, albeit somewhat direct and blunt.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

Successful intercultural communication in Austria requires an understanding of just how much order, tradition and hierarchy are highly esteemed. It is always polite to address someone initially by their title and confrontational behavior or high-pressure tactics should be avoided.

Intercultural sensitivity is essential. It is imperative that you exercise good manners in all your business interactions. Austrians want to be seen to be doing the right thing at all times. Therefore, they follow established protocol and expect others to do the same.

Austrians are careful about what they say, are very detail-oriented and want to understand every innuendo before coming to an agreement. While it takes time to reach a decision, once one has been made it will not be changed and business can be conducted with a handshake as a guarantee.

Want more? Go to the Intercultural Management Guides page

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