As management style tends towards the directive, meetings can often be more for the dissemination of information of decisions previously arrived at than for the open debate of perceived difficulties.

They will often be chaired by the boss and follow a set agenda as determined by the boss. In such formal meetings it would be rare to contradict the boss openly – this will have been done elsewhere, prior to the meeting in more informal lobbying sessions. If meetings sometimes appear to be a rubber-stamping exercise, it is because that is what they often are. In such an environment, it is vital to be actively involved in the pre-meeting lobbying if any influence at all is to be brought to bear.

Meetings, which take place between peers and without the presence of a more senior figure, will be much more open and less rigid. Open debate will often be seen in such situations and this debate can often become heated – especially when people are defending the validity of their own cherished logic. In such meetings, strong confrontations can often occur which reflect the sense of competition often found just below the surface at peer group levels in large organisations.

Cartesian logic is at the heart of French thinking and this process introduces the thesis – counter-thesis approach where adversarial debate around a topic is seen as very healthy. This can be seen as disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing through the eyes of more consensus-minded cultures.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in France

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in France. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in France and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips