How Does the Work Ethic
Vary in Different Countries?
In an increasingly globalized marketplace, workers from various cultural backgrounds are expected to work together in relative harmony. However, the author’s studies indicate that there is a definite distinction between Western views about work and other cultures.
A Bridge Too Far examines what is generally accepted in Western European societies as the work ethic, comparing it to the work motivation of non-Western people in the labour market. For example, the Maori people of New Zealand, who have been predominantly integrated in the capitalist economy of that country, persistently show that they have different expectations for participating in the workforce.
People’s expectations and perceptions about work include shared ideas, values, beliefs, rules, and meanings expressed through their social institutions, which the author terms “ideational systems.” It is these systems that influence the ways that people organize their workplaces, which are in turn a subsystem of their broader society. A Bridge Too Far uncovers the obstacles that must be crossed in our diverse working world.
About the Author
Ruby Welch is a retired anthropologist. She was born in the Netherlands East Indies and was five years old when the colony was invaded by the Japanese. “After the war, the Indonesians started shooting at us, and my mother and we three young children fled to Singapore. We were repatriated to the Netherlands, where I attended school and high school, served in the Royal Dutch Navy for four years during the Cold War, after which I emigrated to Australia.”