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Growth Culture Research Project - FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
Growth and Innovation Advisory Board (GIAB)
Growth Culture Research Project
19 April 2004

Q1 Why did the Board undertake the research?
A The Board was appointed to advise Government on growth and innovation strategies for New Zealand. The Board believes culture is a vital ingredient for successful growth and innovation. It wanted to understand New Zealanders’ attitudes, that is, our culture, around growth. Rather than talking amongst themselves, with the danger of coming up with the same old explanations and ideas, the Board decided to identify what New Zealanders think and give voice to their attitudes and concerns.

Q2 Did the Board have pre-conceived ideas about the results?
A Each member of the Board has had a different reaction to the results. Some, for example, have been surprised by the focus on core values and how important they are regarding growth. Others were interested in what appear to be changing attitudes to business. The Board entered the research project with an open mind.

Q3 What is the Board going to do with the research?
A The research represents the authentic voice of New Zealanders. The Board believes it is vital that we hear and understand what this voice is saying. Accordingly, the Board will be undertaking extensive briefing of leaders, public commentators and interested organisations to see what they make of the findings and whether it relates to their own experience. The Board is also keen that these people discuss the results within their own networks to take the research out more widely.

Q4 Why just leaders?
A This research has a lot that is of great interest to community leaders. If these leaders have a better understanding of what New Zealanders think, they will be in a stronger position support to growth and innovation. Having said that, this research is available to anyone to use.

Q5 Is the Board going to undertake further research?
A As with any research, it asks as many questions as it answers. There could well be the need for further research though no particular project is planned at present. There is a great deal of richness of information in this research and the focus is on gaining the most from it, at least in the first instance.

Q6 What was the reaction of Government to the research?
A Like everyone else whom we have briefed, they were very interested and wanted to understand what it was saying. The results have also been shared with public sector officials to see how the research can assist in the design and delivery of policies and programmes.

Q7 Why do you think New Zealanders appear so focused on quality of life and environment?
A These are two particular attributes of the New Zealand way of life and the Board is of the view New Zealanders prize them highly and do not want to lose them. They are fearful that unchecked economic growth could damage both quality of life and environment.

Q8 Do you believe, as a result of reading the research, that New Zealanders support economic growth?
A It is quite clear that they do, but not unconditionally. They see potentially significant downsides to growth and they expect the benefits to be slow to materialise. Where growth embraces and does not compromise core values, then New Zealanders will support it.

Q9 How can New Zealanders be involved in innovation?
A The key point is that we want innovation to be recognised as a prized attribute in the New Zealand character. It appears innovation is seen as highly technical and beyond the reach of many. The research reveals that New Zealanders could easily identify more closely with innovation if it were more closely related to important aspects of the Kiwi character such as “give it a go”, and the keenness to adapt and improvise to solve problems (the Number 8 Wire idea). We need to show more examples of our “creativity under constraint”, which is of world-class technical excellence and quality of execution.

Q10 Do you think New Zealanders’ attitudes are any less supportive of economic growth and innovation than other countries?
A We have no direct comparative information at this point although, for example, international ratings for entrepreneurship indicate that New Zealanders are quite advanced. The real point is that New Zealand requires growth and innovation to create the wealth necessary to provide benefits such as satisfactory health and education services, and preserve our environment. New Zealanders regard these as very important.

Q11 Isn’t there the age-old conundrum that New Zealand is a small, remote country, and that will never change?
A Our remoteness and size have for so long been regarded as a disadvantage. Changes in attitudes of consumers around the world, more and more of whom are searching for “real”, “authentic” and “genuine”, means that our remoteness and size are becoming competitive and comparative advantages, as are the culture and values that size and distance have both created and enabled us to retain. The combination of culture and landscape is providing a unique set of associations that provide an increasingly higher economic return.

Q12 What do you mean by values and value?
A There appears to be a trend towards values and quality not only in New Zealand, but throughout the western world. Increasingly people are looking through a values lens in many aspects of their lives, whether as consumers, workers, citizens or entrepreneurs. Through that lens is the opportunity for New Zealand to create greater economic value. For example, our values around environment and natural heritage have led directly to value-added industries such as whale watching, tourism generally, and creative industries from film to software.

Q13 Why is leadership so important?
A Leadership in its broadest sense – political, social and business – needs to connect with what New Zealanders’ believe and value if it is to gain the trust and motivation of New Zealanders for growth and innovation. It’s a case of starting where New Zealanders are at. The international opportunities presenting themselves are very much in line with New Zealanders’ values.

Q14 Have New Zealanders got what it takes?
A Absolutely. The research show us that New Zealanders are capable, achievement oriented, and passionate people. They are committed to self improvement and taking opportunities through business. The leadership challenge is to draw this energy out to the point where it becomes a defining characteristic of New Zealand’s performance.

Q15 How important is this research
A Very important. It gives us some new insights. Some of those insights, especially around what Kiwis value, are so compelling it’s as if we always knew them. This research is a fundamental building block for a strong economy that works for New Zealanders and enables more New Zealanders to see themselves creating and benefiting from growth.


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