This is the question I get asked all the time, and it is hard to give a succinct answer to why Australian businesses should be lagging behind their US and Western European catalogues. There are, however, a range of possible explanations which may all be contributing to the adoption gap:
- It may simply be the case that Australian business is always a follower rather than a leader when it comes to innovation in the areas of management, human resources and communication
- Poor Australian broadband coverage and speeds mean that participation in social media overall is less.
- Australia’s political system, with compulsory voting, ‘closed’ party preselections and tight party discipline, discourages the sort of citizen participation that flourishes through web 2.0. This is important because corporates tend to learn new communication techniques from their political colleagues.
- Related to number 3, Australia has long had a restricted media diet and a tendency to rely on, and be comfortable with, a small number of information sources.
- Consequent on 3 and 4, Australia has a fairly tame civic culture with limited debates and a preference for avoiding great public controversies, a suspicion of public intellectuals and an inordinate respect for ‘authority’.
- Consequent on 3,4, and 5, Australian businesses feel a lot less need to get involved in public advocacy around issues that affect their businesses. This is also evident in the fairly limited activity levels of business groups like the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group.
- Most of the people active in corporate affairs functions in Australia have spent most of their careers in the relatively calm, and small, ponds of Australian media and politics and they are in their comfort zones in these closed clubs. They actively discourage business interest and adoption of social media.
There may be other reasons too?