Guide to Doing Business in France
French Business Opportunities
There are several subtle differences that need to be observed when conducting business in the country of France. When dealing with French business people it’s important to know that to reach the higher echelons in business people need a good education and intelligence, and often an upper class background. With this in mind many businesses are run by an authoritative, but charismatic CEO or PDG, with the companies tending to have clear and well defined hierarchical structures when it comes to decision making and communication.
You will find that many of the companies in France have their head office, or their main operations run through offices in the French capital, Paris. This is a centralist tendency seen through the whole of French culture. Form here many of the decisions will be made, with instructions being passed down the company through a number of information meetings. It is very rare to see any dissention with the manager in charge, especially within an open or formal setting. Disagreements are discussed in pre or post-meeting sessions away from others.
It is very unusual to see socialising between members within different hierarchical levels. To gain promotion you need to achieve a number of things including competency, education and level of seniority.
The main tenant of French corporations and business is long term strategic planning, which details the direction of the company’s future. This is why the French government and industry have a stronger relationship between business and industry and the government. You will find that many civil servants will take levels of seniority with industry.
Finally the one of the most important things to do is to attempt to learn French to a minimum level. This will show respect and much of the time efforts will be praised, and responses in English will occur if seen to be struggling. Other things to expect are cheek kissing, although always let the woman make the first move, and good, positive posture is also essential in business culture.
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