French companies tend towards rigid hierarchy and functionality within which system the PDG (CEO) holds great sway.

The PDG determines – in a singular way – the future direction of the company. This vision is then disseminated down the line for implementation by more junior management. Senior management, therefore, tends towards the directive, rather than the collaborative, as might be found in such countries as the Netherlands or Sweden.

The power often vested in the hands of the PDG obviously adds impetus to a centralist approach, which is already discernible in many other aspects of French life. Below the PDG are found a strict hierarchy of managers, organised along rigidly functional lines of responsibility. ( With all reporting lines leading eventually to the PDG.)

To those from a less hierarchical background, this approach often seems to be eminently well-suited for operations which are performing well and producing results. The weaknesses of the system may only become apparent when problems arise and quick responses are called for. With little buy-in having been sought lower down the line, a sense of personal responsibility could be found lacking.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton



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