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Cross-Cultural Differences Between Doing Business in France and China

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As we revel in the wake of Globalization, models of organizations and styles of management are becoming increasingly similar. However, this conversion has a limit. Some cross-cultural differences will not disappear so easily and managers will have to understand and appreciate these cultural ‘oddities’ if they wish to run a successful business.

Let us take China and France as examples of two very different countries that may have cross-cultural problems while doing business. First we will give a general overview of the two countries and then discuss some management practices that may vary between these eastern and western cultures.

General Overview:


 Geographical location: Western Europe

 Population: 62.000.000 people

 Language(s): French: 42,100,000 (92%)

Oc languages: 1,670,000 (3.65%)

German and German dialects: 1,440,000 (3.15%)

Oпl languages: 1,420,000 (3.10%)

Arabic: 1,170,000 (2.55%)

 Economic status: France has a balanced and highly diversified market economy in which industry accounts for approximately 27 percent of gross domestic product or GDP (produit intйrieur brut), services account for more than 68 percent, and construction, transportation and agriculture play an important role. France has ranked for the past 20 years as the West's fifth economic power.

 Political system: French political system is characterized by the opposition of two political groups: one left-wing, centered around the French Socialist Party, and one right-wing, centered around the Rassemblement pour la Rйpublique (RPR), then its successor the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP). The French government is republican in form.

 Religion: 62% Roman Catholic, 6% Muslim, 2% Protestant, 1% Jewish, 2% "other religions", 26% "no religion" and 1% declined to answer

 Status of women: An increasing number of French women hold management positions in retail, service, law, finance and human resources. Foreign women are generally accepted in business, though they may be flirted with on occasion. Women are better accepted in management positions in the major cities than the provinces.


 Geographical location: Eastern Asia

 Population: 1,306,313,812 (July 2005 est.)

 Language(s): The national language is Putonghua (the common speech) or Mandarin. Most of the 55 minority nationalities have their own languages. As a written language, Chinese has been used for 6,000 years.

 Economic status: Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, China in 2004 stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US, although in per capita terms the country is still poor.

 Political system: Traditionally Communist. The President and Vice-President of the People's Republic of China are elected by the National People’s Congress. Their term of office is five years.

 Religion: Officially atheist.

 Status of women: The social status of Chinese women has changed dramatically in recent years. China was one of the first signatories of the Convention on The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The number of women in managing positions is growing.

1) Summarize how the management practice is conducted in each culture

A) Teamwork


Since the French place great importance on individuality, uniqueness and freedom of opinion both in society and business, teamwork in the French corporate environment can be very difficult.

Individualism in the French business scene means that a greater emphasis is placed on social status and being judged as an individual rather than as a team.


The collectivist orientation of relationships and concern for harmony in Chinese culture might affect crucial aspects of teamwork, such as a common purpose, task interdependence and group orientation.

B) Negotiations


Negotiations in France tend to be very direct, emphasizing the individuals ability to manipulate words and show their verbal prowess. Due to the rule orientated

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