Franchising in Australia




Fair dinkum: The Australian sense of authenticity


When doing business in Australia, you may hear the expression "fair dinkum" as in "Mate, are you fair dinkum?" This is an old and popular bit of slang that Australians use to assure themselves that others are being honest, genuine, and reliable in their dealings with them. It challenges any real or suspected evidence of phoniness, deception or manipulation.


The Australian culture is one of the most egalitarian in the world. This attribute comes, in part, from the country's origin as a convict colony. The former convicts and other poor immigrants logically resented and rejected the self-importance and privilege of their English rulers. The concept of "fair dinkum" probably developed as a reaction to this inequality that perpetuated itself by means of controlling and manipulating information. Many Australians seem to be suspicious of politicians, business leaders, and other high status and powerful people. Therefore, it is common to question and challenge their motives and actions by bringing up the issue of "fair dinkum."

So What

Also coming from a relatively egalitarian society, U.S. business people tend to assume that they will fit in automatically and effortlessly with their Australian counterparts. However, U.S. corporate cultures often are more hierarchical and status-conscious than Australian ones. This difference, combined with the American's tendency to use overstatement and "selling" oneself and one's ideas, may trigger the Australians' need to be sure that they are being dealt with in the spirit of "fair dinkum." Being aware of this sensitivity and being careful to avoid exaggeration or insincerity will enable the U.S. businessperson to be taken more seriously and to get better results.

To Learn More

Read A Fair Go for All: A Guide for Australians and Americans by George W. Renwick, (Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, Inc., 1991) or The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding by Robert Hughes (New York: Vintage Books, 1988).

World Culture Tips Editor Blurb:

World Culture Tips editor, Gary M. Wederspahn, is a leading intercultural business consultant, trainer, coach, speaker, and writer. His book, Intercultural Services: A Worldwide Buyer's Guide and Sourcebook, is available from Butterworth Heinemann publishing company and from

Published: September 22nd, 2005

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