Papua New Guinean Culture

Business Culture


  • Although ‘PNG time’ is common throughout society, business culture is trying to develop an expectation of punctuality. Be punctual, but do not necessarily expect your PNG counterpart to be.
  • Meetings may start later than expected.
  • Introduce yourself using the person’s title followed by their surname.Have plenty of business cards and treat other business cards with respect when they are given.
  • Discern the age and pay special attention to the opinion of those present that are older than you.


In a business setting, references to ‘wantoks’ or the ‘wantok system’ is common (see ‘Language and Wanok’ in Core Concepts for more information). Papua New Guineans often prioritise their group, feeling as though they have an obligation and responsibility to assist members of the same wantok even if it comes at a significant loss. Thus, is a widely accepted practice, further reflecting the way in which loyalty is first and foremost towards one’s wantok. Be mindful that Papua New Guineans may be thinking of ways to serve the interests of their wantok.


Papua New Guinean business people tend to favour seeing the same face representing a company on successive visits. Thus, having the same person represent the company, along with continuity of contact is central. Conversely, it is important to spend a significant amount of time investigating a company before establishing a relationship with the business, since the wantok system may influence where a business places its priorities.


  • English is generally the language used for business and government interactions.
  • Business laws are based on English legal principles. However, the application is less rigorous than expected in Australia.
  • Gift giving is not commonly practised in business dealings.
  • Men’s business attire is distinguished between ‘tropical informal’ and ‘tropical formal’. The former typically consists of long, lightweight trousers and an open-necked shirt. The latter refers to an outfit consisting of trousers paired with a long-sleeved shirt and tie.
  • Women’s business attire is generally conservative yet lightweight. They tend to dress more conservatively than in Australia.
  • On the (2017), Papua New Guinea ranks as 135th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 29 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is somewhat corrupt.

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