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Business Customs in France

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Business Customs in France

When conducting business in a country other than our own, there are many obvious considerations that must be made to be successful, including how negotiations are made, how business meetings are conducted, acceptable business attire, etiquette and decision styles. Other less obvious, yet equally important, considerations that must be made include normal business hours in the host country, accepted cultural norms regarding gift giving, handshakes and business cards, and how women are regarded in the business world. This paper will address the cultural considerations that an American professional would need to make when conducting business in France, as well as a summary of Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture for both countries.
Negotiations
Business negotiations in France tend to be very centralized and bureaucratic. Tradition is respected and given precedence over new ideas and formality is expected in all stages of business. During business negotiations, the French tend to ask very direct, detailed questions and expect adequate responses from their American colleagues. It is expected that all risks be identified early in the process and that they are all well-managed to avoid unnecessary complications. The French are also likely to repeat their main points when they have reached their conclusion, at which point changing their opinion or decision is very unlikely. Additionally, the business structure in France often requires initial negotiations to go through several stages of internal management for final approval (www.businessculture.org, n.d.). An American would need to be very tactful and logical when conducting business in France. It would also be important to remember that an initial approval or agreement does not necessarily imply that no changes will be required by an internal review.
Business Meetings Formality is expected during all business interactions, so protocol is to be followed and formal communication is required. Meetings should be booked several weeks in advance with consideration given to the observance of national holidays in France, as well as to normal business days and hours. Formal, typed minutes of the meeting should be prepared and distributed within 24 hours of all business meetings. If a business meeting is held during a meal, business discussion should be held until the end of the meal, or until the French business person initiates the conversation. When seated at a table, the top executive of the French company is expected to sit at the head of the table, with the second in command to their left and the third in command to their right (www.businessculture.org, n.d.). An American would need to be mindful of the formal nature of French business meetings and conform to those expectations.
Language
While many French natives understand and speak English, they prefer to conduct business matters in French. To accommodate this standard, it is not unusual for an interpreter to be present during business meetings and events. While it is not necessary to be fluent in French, having no knowledge of the language may be seen as disrespectful. However, if an American is not fluent in French, they should limit their use of the language to greetings and toasts (www.eDiplomat.com, n.d.).

Time Punctuality is relatively relaxed in France, with a ten minute window after a scheduled time being standard, though every effort should be made to arrive to all appointments on time. However, punctuality is even more relaxed for French natives, so it would not be uncommon for a French attendee to an appointment to arrive much later than the scheduled time (www.businessculture.org, n.d.). An American would need to keep in mind that it is not uncommon for a French professional to arrive to an appointment quite late and while it is unlikely to receive an apology, it is not a sign of disrespect.
Normal Business Hours The average work week in France is 35 hours and nearly all French companies are closed on Sundays due to national law. Many businesses in France are typically open from around 9am until noon, then closed for an extended lunch, and open again around 3pm until between 5 and 6pm. However, some businesses will display “non-stop” signs in their windows to indicate that they do not close for an extended period during the day. While this schedule is more typical of restaurants, retail stores and museums, many corporate-style businesses adhere to a similar schedule. National holidays are also observed, usually resulting in most, if not all, businesses closing for several days (Carr, 2012).
Business Attire Business attire in France is understated and very stylish or trendy, though also conservative. Men are expected to wear dark colored suits. Facial hair is rarely acceptable, particularly with business executives. Women should wear business suits with either slacks or a skirt that reaches at least to the knees, or a high-end dress, and soft or muted colors is acceptable. High quality, yet understated jewelry is acceptable for both sexes. Women in France place strong emphasis on skin care and maintaining a healthy weight. Women are expected to wear full make up and a stylish hair style; up-do’s being the most common. The standards for attire may vary and become more casual depending on the standards of the individual company (www.kwintessential.com). As French business attire is similar to that in the US, an American would need to observe these standards, though it is unlikely any changes would be required.
Etiquette and Behavior The French are very reserved and formal in public, whether in a business setting or not. Formal language and greetings are expected. The French do not respond well to loud or intrusive talking or behavior. Proper table manners are expected. It is also important in France to keep personal and professional life separate and it is considered unacceptable to discuss personal matters during business interactions (Ronin, 2013).
Decision Making Styles Decision making within French businesses follow the same hierarchical structure as the company itself, as well as the rules for negotiations. Top executives are given advantages that others are not and any business relationship, deal, or agreement can be rejected by any member or upper management (www.kwintessential.com, n.d.). An American would again need to be aware that several layers of management exist in French firms and all of them have voting and veto power for any business arrangement.
Women in Business Women are respected and revered in French business, particularly in retail and service industries, though they are rarely in positions of power within engineering-based companies. While education is expected from all in the professional world, a suitable educational level is of extreme importance for a woman who wishes to advance professionally. (www.worldbusinessculture.com, n.d.). An American woman conducting business in France would need to be aware of the apparent bias against women in certain fields.
Gift Giving It is acceptable to exchange small gifts with business associates, though it should not happen at an initial meeting. Gifts should always be exchanged or given at the business meeting and never to an individual’s home. Gifts should not be branded or stamped with a company’s logo, and all gifts should be high quality. Acceptable business gifts include candy, cookies, recorded music, art and books. Gifts containing 6 or 12 pieces are inappropriate for business colleagues, while gifts with an odd number of pieces, especially 13, chrysanthemums, red roses and wine are considered highly inappropriate (www.eDiplomat.com, n.d.).
Handshakes and Greetings Handshakes in France are considered brief, brisk and light. A loose grip is common and only one or two up/down motions are typically used. When conducting business in France, all attendees should be addressed by “Monsieur” or “Madame” followed by their last name and first names should not be used unless you are invited to do so, even if the person introduced him or herself using their last name followed by their first name. A quick kiss on each cheek is also customary for those familiar with one another (Ronin, K., 2013). An American would need to remember that a typical American handshake with a firm grip and several up/down pumps would be considered rude and overpowering and uncultured.

Business Cards Business cards are exchanged very frequently in France, particularly during business interactions. While it is not expected or required, an American’s business card should be written in English on one side and in French on the other. All advanced degrees should be listed following the name. Also, standard French business card are larger than those used in the US (www.kwintessential.co.uk, n.d.).
Gestures and Non-verbal Communication Several gestures have meanings that are unique to the French. Forming a circle with your fingers and placing it over your nose indicates that someone is drunk, the American symbol for “okay” is the gesture for zero, and playing an imaginary flute indicates that someone is talking too much. The French also do not eat anything with their hands – fruit is to be cut up and eaten with a fork, as are sandwiches. You should also place your hands on the table when dining, as placing them in your lap is considered rude. Also, flexing your bicep is equivalent to holding up your middle finger in the US. Lastly, facial expressions should be well-controlled in France, as the culture is very reserved. This means randomly smiling at strangers would be considered odd. One should not sit with their legs set apart and the back should remain straight and shoulders squared. Eye contact should be maintained with anyone who is speaking. Yawning, stretching or popping knuckles during a meeting is viewed as rude and as a sign of boredom (Hampton, R. (2013). An American would need to be aware of the different gestures and non-verbal cues practiced in France as to avoid any unintentional faux pas.

Hofstede’s Dimension of Culture The following comparative chart, the values of which were retrieved from the Hofstede Centre website, shows the different scores for France and the United States on each of the Hofstede’s dimensions.
Dimension France US
Power Distance 68 40
Individualism 71 91
Masculinity 43 62
Uncertainty Avoidance 86 46
Pragmatism 63 26
Indulgence 48 68
(Hofstede Centre, n.d.).
Power Distance
France has a score of 68 on this dimension. This score is relatively high, which indicates that the French accept a moderate degree of inequality, not only in their personal lives, but also in the workplace. This score also means that company executives receive privileges and perks that those below them are not entitled to. The US, on the other hand, has a score of 40 on this dimension, which means that a much smaller degree of inequality is accepted.
In order to succeed in France, an American would need to realize and accept that there is a much larger disparity between the power of all levels of management and lower-level employees, and that there is likely to be more levels of management within a company than in the US. (Hofstede Centre, n.d.).

Individualism
France has a score of 71, which indicates that individualism is widely accepted. Based on this dimension, the French are likely to put themselves and their immediate family before society as a whole. The US has a score of 91, which suggests that it is also an individualistic society.
Since both countries score on the high end of this dimension, an American would not likely have to make any considerations to accommodate this dimension (Hofstede Centre, n.d.).
Masculinity
France has a score of 43 on this dimension, which is relatively low, indicating that it is a more feminine culture. As such, the primary concern for the French is caring for others and achieving an acceptable quality of life for all citizens. The US scores a 62 on this dimension, which indicates it is a much more masculine culture, with the primary concern being competition, achievement and success.
An American conducting business in France would surely need to consider the difference in the French culture regarding this dimension and would likely need to consider the needs of others before their personal need for competition and success. (Hofstede Centre, n.d.).
Uncertainty Avoidance
France has a score of 86 on this dimension, which indicates that the culture does not like not knowing what the future holds. Surprises are not well-received and a structured life with an abundance of laws, regulations and rules is desired. The US has a much lower score of 46, which suggests that Americans are likely to have a willingness to accept new ideas and to try new things.
When considering this dimension, an American would need to ensure that any business plans are very clearly defined with little to no room for interpretation or error. Also, they would need to be mindful that new products or services would likely be met with hesitation or even rejection (Hofstede Centre, n.d..
Pragmatism
France’s score of 63 is relatively high on this dimension, which indicates that the French believe that the concept of truth depends largely on the situation, context and time. The French are accepting of changes made to tradition if required by changing conditions. They are also likely to be conservative or thrifty in spending and focused on education and preparing for the future. The US has a much lower score of 26 on this dimension, which indicates that traditions are time-honored and kept intact regardless of the situation and that the society is leery and suspicious of change.
When considering this dimension, an American would need to adapt to the flexible nature of the French in terms of being willing to change what is considered “normal” if the circumstance change. More importantly, an American would need to make every effort to ensure money was spent conservatively on any business projects with a minimal risk of a financial loss (Hofstede Centre, n.d.).
Indulgence
France has a score of 48, which indicates that the culture takes a balanced approach to indulgence and restraint. With a score of 68, the US is considered an indulgent culture, which means that Americans are relatively likely to indulge their impulses (Hofstede Centre, n.d.). In order to be successful when conducting business in another country, several cultural differences should be considered and respected. While there are several similarities between France and the US in regards to business, there are also several differences. Failing to abide by the cultural norms can easily result in failure in the host country.

Works Cited
Carr, K. (2012). Hours in France. Retrieved from: http://www.gofrance.about.com/cs/firsttimersguide/a/schedules.htlm. Web. eDiplomat. (n.d.). France. Retrieved from http://www.ediplomat.com/np/cultural_etiquette/ce_fr.htm. Web.
Hampton, R. (2013). Non-Verbal Communication Differenced Between the USA and France. Retrieved from: http://www.rhampton23.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/non-verbal-communication-differences-between-the-usa-and-france/. Web.
Hofstede Centre. (n.d.) France. Retrieved from: http://www.geert-hofstede.com/france.html. Web.
Hofstede Centre. (n.d.) United States. Retrieved from: http://geert-hofstede.com/united-states.html. Web.
Kwintessential. (n.d.). Doing Business in France. Retrieved from: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/etiquette/doing-business-france.html. Web.
Passport to Trade. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.businessculture.org/western-europe/business-culture-in-france/meeting-etiquette-in-france. Web.
Ronin, K. (2013). Ten Tips on French Business Etiquette.
Retrieved from: http://www.thelocal.fr/20130304/top-ten---french-business-etiquette,com. Web.
World Business Culture. (n.d.). Women in Business in France.
Retrieved from: http://www.worldbusinessculture.com/Women-in-Business-in-France.html. Web.…...

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...法国 ------------------------------------------------- 百科名片 法国(La France),全称为法兰西共和国,现在是法兰西第五共和国,位于欧洲西部,与比利时、卢森堡、德国、瑞士、意大利、摩纳哥、安道尔和西班牙接壤,隔英吉利海峡与英国隔海相望。法国是第一次世界大战的主要战胜国之一,虽在第二次世界大战中期战败且沦陷于德国,但在国际上仍然有一定的影响力,因而成为联合国安理会常任理事国,对安理会议案拥有否决权。法国亦是欧盟和北约创始会员国之一,八国集团之一和欧洲四大经济体之一,亦是《申根公约》的成员国。法国不仅在工农业方面非常发达,而且也是世界文化中心之一。首都位于巴黎。 中文名称: | 法兰西共和国 | 英文名称: | The Republic of France | 简称: | 法国 | 所属洲: | 欧洲 | 首都: | 巴黎 | 主要城市: | 巴黎,马赛 | 国庆日: | 7月14日 | 国歌: | 马赛曲 | 国家代码: | FRA | 官方语言: | 法语 | 货币: | 欧元 | 时区: | +1(夏时制+2) | 政治体制: | 半总统共和制 | 国家领袖: | 尼古拉·萨科齐 弗朗索瓦·菲永 | 人口数量: | 65447374人(2010年1月) | | 人口密度: | 115人/平方公里(2010年1月) | 主要民族: | 法兰西人,科西嘉人,巴斯克人等 | 主要宗教: | 天主教 | 国土面积: | 543965平方公里 | 水域率: | 0.26% | GDP总计: | 28657.37亿美元 | 人均GDP: | 46016美元 | 国际电话区号: | +33 | 国际域名缩写: | .fr | 道路通行: | 靠右驾驶 | 国鸟: | 高卢鸡 | 国花: | 鸢尾花 | 国石: | 珍珠 | 国家格言: | 自由,平等,博爱 | 人类发展指数: | 0.872 | | 目录 简介 1. 国名 2. 国旗 3. 国徽 4. 国歌 5. 人口 6. 货币 地理 1. 位置 2. 地势 3. 水文 4. 气候 5. 资源 历史 历朝统治者及统治时间 政区 1. 行政区划 2. 重要城市 政治 1. 政体 2. 政党 3. 司法 4. 政要 经济 1. 体制 2. 工业 3. 商业 4. 农业 5. 旅游 6. 外贸 军事 1. 国防 2. 军制 外交 1. 国策 2. 法北约关系 3. 法德关系 4. 法英关系 5. 法波关系 6. 法俄关系 7. 法中关系 8. 签证资料 文学 艺术 体育 教育 媒体 名胜古迹 宗教 名人 2010世博法国馆 旅游 1. 景点 2.......

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Free Essay

France

...France If there was one thing at the forefront of the minds of French voters, with the upcoming presidential election, it would be the current economic crisis focusing mainly on the failing euro. (Hey, Big Spender) This paper will summarize three articles that relate to the failing euro and the French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s role in this issue, part of a possible solution of getting it back on track in “Going Dutch” by Martin Feldstien, in the “The Failure of the Euro” from Foreign Affairs, “Hey, Big Spender” from The Economist, and Eduardo Cue, in the “Prospects Are Good for New Plan from Merkel,Sarkozy” from U.S. News and World Report. European nations are required to become integrated and unified as a whole to participate and enhance Europe’s role in world affairs abroad. One of the main ideas to begin this integration was the trial of creating a unified currency system that is now increasingly being recognized as a experiment that has vehemently failed. This failure was not an accident or the result of bureaucratic mismanagement but rather the inevitable consequences of imposing a single currency on a very heterogeneous group of countries. The adverse consequences of the failing euro on the European economies include the current debt crises, fragile conditions of numerous banks, high levels of unemployment, and large trade deficits. (Feldstein) Lately, worries about the stability of the euro reached a high as Italy's bond yield, indicative of the rate it would pay...

Words: 651 - Pages: 3

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