Progress in telecommunication and transportation technologies has resulted in unprecedented growth in international trade in general and transatlantic trade (between the European Union and North America) in particular. As a result, Europeans and North Americans often interact to negotiate and implement business agreements. Doing business abroad leads to deal with lots of cross-cultural challenges. Prior to travelling to another country, factors such as differences in etiquette, business practices, negotiation techniques and business protocol must be considered.
And it's compulsory to take these elements into account very seriously to be able to work effectively. I will first present the American, English and French specificities and try to underline the similitarities and the differences. I will then speak about my own little experience about this subject. For North Americans and Europeans, doing business with one another was not that hard. Indeed, European Union and North American countries share common historical and religious roots, and lots of other elements and traits. Unfortunately, the apparent similarities between countries of the European Union and North America mask significant cultural differences.
[...] This is possible because the models are quite similar but some differences remain: In France - The Hierarchy is very important - Managers have a big decision power (and don't need to consult employees that much) - French executives tend to focus on long-term business relationship In USA: - Social mobility is at the heart of the model - Strong place of the Leadership (tends to be more empower, delegation is wished) - Major importance given to individual and collective performance In UK: - Professional ascension is results-oriented - Participative Leadership (emphasis on collaboration between people) - Individualism quite high however. [...]
[...] Power Distance, the psychological distance between a manager and his subordinates. The USA fall in the middle of the range while France gets a high position. Certainty, which measures the tolerance that a culture has of risk. It's in the middle once again for the USA, when uncertainty avoidance is high in France. Achievement, which corresponds to the extent to which people focus on tasks or relationships to achieve their professional objectives. Note the difference between the USA and France, in this dimension: which is more relationship-oriented than the USA? [...]
[...] I could notice a gap between a big American group and a middle-size French structure where I had been intern few years ago (Micropole-Univers) ; even if they work in a very comparable universe, the computer services industry. Some common points appear like the fact that both companies employ lots of young people, considered more adaptable and reactive. In both firm, offices are organised following an open-space configuration, for an easy collaboration. But after a while, I could first notice this huge difference: in Micropole- Univers, there's clearly a common spirit but not as developed as in Cerner, where I could feel a strong identification to the firm. [...]
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