Cross-cultural research takes Niels to EU forum

Researcher Dr Niels Kraaier has been invited to attend the EU-Australia Leadership Forum
Researcher Dr Niels Kraaier has been invited to attend the EU-Australia Leadership Forum

After completing his PhD through Griffith University, Dr Niels Kraaier’s comparison of government communications in Australia and the Netherlands has culminated in an invitation to the prestigious EU-Australia Leadership Forum (EUALF) in June.

A unique project in the European Union’s suite of diplomacy actions, the forum will be held in Sydney from 4-6 June, bringing together representatives from business, civil society, academia, media and government to discuss, design and collaborate on ideas around the future of the EU-Australian relationship.

A dual citizen of Australia and the Netherlands, Dr Kraaier’s thesis — The Politics of Government Communications — has attracted attention for its insight into political, societal and cultural understanding between the two countries.

“My PhD was in Organisational and Cross-Cultural Communication and my interviews with government communication personnel provided an intriguing insight into how national cultures and political systems impact upon work practices,” says Dr Kraaier.

“While both Australia and the Netherlands are advanced Western societies, significant cultural differences exist between the two and these find expression in various ways.

“Whereas Australia presents as more masculine in its attitudes, the Netherlands is more feminine. Australia is more about winning; the Netherlands about taking part.

“In politics, this plays out in a situation where Australia is like a battle from which one party assumes control. In the Netherlands, it is more about negotiation and shared control.

“These findings are not just worthwhile for the conversations I can have at EUALF, going forward they may help with the framing of new policy and sound diplomacy.

“This is especially relevant for Australia’s relationships in Europe post-Brexit.”

Dr Kraaier completed a Masters (Honours) in Journalism and Mass Communication at Griffith in 2009 before finishing his PhD this year.

Principal consultant with professional development group Veldhoen+Company, as well as for his own cross-cultural communications consulting firm, Dutchuncle, Dr Kraaier is excited about the opportunities presented by EUALF.

“As a forum for functional dialogue and mutual learning across important international issues, there will be opportunities for fresh insights, new networks and stronger existing networks,” he says.

Alongside European dignitaries, Australian members of EUALF’s steering committee include the Chair of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Ms Gillian Broadbent; Chief Advocate for World Vision Australia, Mr Tim Costello; Chairman of the European Australian Business Council and forme NSW Premier Nick Greiner; and Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Mr Peter Jennings.

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Julie Bishop MP, presided at the forum’s launch in Brussels last September.