The bunyip and the dragon: the psychodynamics of Australian and South Korean business encounters


Ryan, Ernest L.

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This study attempts to identify and explore the psychodynamics of Australian and Korean business encounters in Seoul, Republic of Korea, by describing and discussing 'Australian-ness' and 'Korean-ness' as representations of what I will call 'National character in-the-mind'. A guiding hypothesis is that in highly charged emotional settings, like those associated with foreign business encounters, National character in-the-mind acts as a psychological and emotional container, and a protective screen to hide more intricate institutional anxieties and defences. The d ata supporting the study is drawn from my interviews with 12 Australian and 6 Korean business people conducted between 3 and 14 June 1996 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The study also reflects my experience and role as researcher in the research as a source, creator and interpreter of data through the exploration of my own introspection. The findings demonstrate how Australian-ness and Korean-ness appear to represent projections of the human imagination, willed within the bounds of individual experience and perception. A model for evaluating Cultural Misunderstanding and Defensive/Adaptive Behaviour is proposed with the aim of seeking improved understanding of the Australian and Korean National character. The model applies learning from the research experience which emphasises the need for Australian and Korean business people to take a more adaptive approach to the contrary behaviours they encounter. The model also acknowledges the value of investing time to establish and maintain cross-cultural business relationships based on access, whereby Australian and Korean business people see themselves as resources of mutual gain, reducing the potential for misunderstanding, fear and mistrust and the subsequent invocation of defensive responses.

Publication year


Thesis supervisor

Susan Long

Publication type

Thesis (DOrgDyn)


Copyright © 1997 Ernest L. Ryan.

Thesis note

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Organisation Dynamics, Swinburne University of Technology, 1997.