Political pressures tell a different story

Neils Kraaier.
Neils Kraaier.

The difference in parliamentary systems has a higher impact on government communications professionals’ work practice than any perceived cultural differences.

This is one of the findings of Griffith University PhD candidate Niels Kraaier’s research, which compares how workers in Queensland and the Netherlands are influenced by cultural and organisational factors.

He found the countries’ different types of parliamentary systems accounted for most of the differences, rather than cultural factors.

“For example, the Netherlands’ multi-party system means that power is shared between two or more parties,’’ he explained.

“As nobody can take full control of the government the political pressure is less obvious.”

“Whereas in Queensland, the one-party Westminster system means political pressure is more likely to be exerted on communications professionals.”

When Niels, a former ministerial speechwriter in the Netherlands, moved to Australia he worked as a communications advisor for a government department.

“I noticed there were quite a few differences in how my former and new colleagues approached their work and it made me curious. Where did these differences come from?”

Also a lecturer in journalism and public relations with Griffith’s School of Humanities, Niels found the main difference between Australian and Dutch media was diversity.”

“In the Netherlands there’s more choice. Media ownership laws are quite strict compared to Australia, preventing media outlets being controlled by a handful of people,’’ he said.

This diversity, however, does not necessarily translate to jobs.

“The job market is very competitive and newspapers are doing it tough. They haven’t really found ways to make money out of their online activities yet.

“A complicating factor is the language. Career opportunities outside the Netherlands are limited unless you speak another language fluently.

“Australians are at an advantage here because, by comparison, the English-speaking world is huge.”

Niels also enjoys an aspect of Australian journalism uncommon in the Netherlands — community-focussed journalism.

“People like human interest stories and Australian journalists understand that very well. Dutch journalists could learn a lot from the Australian approach.”

When he graduates at the end of 2015, Niels plans to continue his research and share his knowledge as a consultant and trainer.