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Cross Cultural Management Guide - Austria


What will you Learn in this Guide?

In this guide, expatriate managers will gain an understanding of a number of key cross cultural areas when working in Austria:

  • Hierarchy
  • Leadership style
  • Time and scheduling 
  • Communication style and; 
  • Decision making 


Gaining an Expert Understanding:

Once you've read this guide, ensure the success of your Austrian business venture by: 

  • Taking part in a two hour live webinar, customised to meet your unique needs, with one of our Austria country and culture training experts or;
  • Contacting us in respect to our Austria consultancy services



Being a Manager in 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 demeanour. Wear conservative clothes that are well tailored if you want to be treated with respect.
  • Managers typically work hard within the official working hours and make every effort to maintain a healthy work/life balance. As such, 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. This means that, as in other hierarchical cultures, in the Austrian workplace:

  • 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, which means that:

  • Austria is a low risk and low change tolerant culture
  • Change can be difficult to bring about due to an underlying belief 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 which manifests in the workplace as follows:

  • Adherence to schedules is important and expected.
  • In Austria missing a deadlines can be seen as a sign of poor management and inefficiency, which may impact the perception of someone's professionalism.
  • Successful intercultural management will depend on the individual's ability to meet deadlines and adhere to schedules.


Decision Making

On the whole, Austrian employees are usually of the opinion that managers have been chosen for their role due to their experience and technical abilities.  When it comes to decision making, then this may impact the workplace in the following ways:

  • In general, they do not expect their managers to seek their concurrence in the decision-making process and are comfortable complying with any decisions made. 
  • If asked to contribute to the decision making process, however, then they are generally happy to do so. 


Communication and Negotiation Styles

Successful intercultural communication in Austria requires an understanding of just how much order, tradition and hierarchy are highly esteemed. These values are likely to manifest in the following way:

  • It is always polite to address someone initially by their title
  • Confrontational behavior or high-pressure tactics are not respected, or tolerated and, as such,should be avoided.
  • Intercultural sensitivity is essential and 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.
  • Austrian employees tend to be careful about what they say. They don't tend to speak for the sake of filling silence and are generally not impetuous in their speech. 
  • They tend to value detail and are likely to want to understand every innuendo before coming to an agreement.
  • While it takes time to reach a decision, once one has been made it, it's unlikely to be revoked and business can be conducted with a handshake as a guarantee.

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