France is a country full of much to offer. From wonderful landscapes, to beautiful bustling cities, tourists around the world often rave about the French people and their culture. Yet, with France ranking as one of the top 10 GDP producers in the world, it is also a heavily business oriented country full of opportunity for domestic and international businesses alike. Though France is considered to be part of the “Western World”, it is important to remember that differences do exist between the French business culture and that of the United States.

In the United States, the hierarchy of a company is not generally stringently adhered to. If employees go above their own bosses to reach the higher ups in order to solve a problem or address an issue, the consequences for doing so, if any, are often mild. However, this is not the case in France. Business hierarchies are of great importance and must be followed. Going above one’s boss is a serious business faux pas that may cause more harm than good. Keep the hierarchy of the French business culture in mind and follow it accordingly to ensure a smoother process when working with French companies.
French Business Culture- Cultural Candor
Another aspect to consider when working with French counterparts is that professional and personal lives are often kept separate. The French retain a high level of formality in most working situations. This means that, when participating in small talk and short conversations, it is better to err on the side of formality rather than asking personal questions or seeking details about one’s home life. If a French counterpart feels comfortable with disclosing this information, he or she will let it be known. However, the French business culture can oftentimes be surprised at the amount of information American colleagues are willing to share.

In addition to the two points states above, there exist dozens of other cultural nuance that one must know in order to conduct business successfully in France. Cultural Candor specializes in designing customized cross-cultural training programs regarding French business culture and etiquette. Visit our homepage to learn more or contact us today for a complimentary consultation.


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