Cultural Aspects In France

Cultural Aspects In France

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Demographics, Population & Ethnicities:
France is the 19th most populous country in the world. The total French population is estimated to be 63,718,187 with around 60, 876,135 living in metropolitan France. The largest cities in France are Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Toulouse, Nice, and Nantes The French society has a wide diversity of people and ethnicities. Ethnic groups include Celtic, Latin, Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, in addition to the Basque minorities in the south. However, there is a large percentage of immigrants in France (Legal & Illegal). In 2004 a total of 140,033 people immigrated to France, 90,250 were from Africa, and 13,710 were from Europe, the following year immigration fell to 135,890. According to to the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, France has an estimate of 4.9 million foreign born immigrants, 2 million of which have acquired French citizenship.
France is a secular country and freedom of religion is a constitutional right. Religious Statistics in France show that the population consists of 83%-88% Roman Catholics, 2% Protestants, 1% Jewish, 5%-10% Muslims, and 4% unaffiliated. However these statistics may not be accurate in practice. According to a January 2007 poll by the Catholic World News; 51% were identified as being Catholics, 31% were identified as being atheists or agnostic, 10% were identified to be from other religions or without opinion, 4% were identified as Muslims, 3% were identified as Protestants, and 1% as Jewish. The French political system is legally prohibited from recognizing any religion, and it merely recognizes religious organizations, according to formal legal criteria that do not address religious doctrine. Religious organizations do not intervene in policy making, and certain religious symbols are prohibited from being worn in public institutions like the Islamic veil, and the Jewish Kippah, which erupted a lot of demonstrations among minorities especially Muslims.
French is known to be the one and only spoken language in France, and it is considered to be only western European nation (excluding microstates) to have only one officially recognized language. The French people take pride in their language and do not like to be addressed in other languages from non French speaking visitors. There are other regional dialects like Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish, however their use is rapidly declining. Other languages such as Portuguese, Italian, Maghrebi Arabic, and other Arabic Berber dialects are spoken among immigrants.

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Therefore, one should do business in France using the French language; hence the issuance of new company catalogues must be in French and the working staff must also be native speakers to enable a thorough understanding of specific customer needs.

Below is a table containing some other important facts about France.

Age structure
0-14 years: 18.6% (male 6,063,181/female 5,776,272)
15-64 years: 65.2% (male 20,798,889/female 20,763,283)
65 years and over: 16.2% (male 4,274,290/female 6,038,011) (2007 est.)

Literacy (from the age of 15)
Total population: 99%
Male: 99%
Female: 99%

Name: Paris
Geographic coordinates: 48 52 N, 2 20 E
Time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

National holiday
Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1790). Although often incorrectly referred to as Bastille Day, the celebration actually commemorates the holiday held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (on 14 July 1789) and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy; other names for the holiday are Fete Nationale (National Holiday) and quatorze juillet (14th of July)
Radio broadcast stations
AM 41, FM about 3,500 (this figure is an approximation and includes many repeaters), shortwave 2

Television broadcast stations:

584 (plus 9,676 repeaters)

Celebrations & Events:
Due to its long history and rich culture the French calendar is full of different events and celebrations through out the year, most of these are celebrated through out the whole country. However the most important date in the French calendar is July 14th, which is the French national holiday commemorating the French revolution. They also celebrate several other major events like the Cannes film festival, the notable tennis tournament the French Open at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris, and the Tour de France bicycle tournament.

French Culture Context:
The French culture is a high context culture?? where social context is as important as what is actually said; hence when doing business in France we should take into account the cultural traits and learn how they do business. This could be advantageous for our company due to the fact that the Arab World is also a high context culture, therefore there will be some similarities in doing business.
French Communications and Business Etiquette:
The French people are very proud of their culture, and they expect guests and foreigners to behave in the same manner that they do. The French are very conscience of their appearance, and they like to dress conservatively and invest well in their looks and clothes, the French capital Paris is considered to be the fashion capital of the world. Businessmen should not loosen their ties or take off their jackets in the office; dark colors are preferable while bright colors are to be avoided. Women should also dress conservatively with soft colors and look classy, avoiding overpowering objects like flashing jewelry or provocative clothes and be keen on wearing good quality accessories.
Business Meetings and Negotiations:
French people are lenient when it comes to punctuality thereby arriving from 10 to 15 minutes late is acceptable, however if there is going be a major delay it is very important to call and explain. Privacy is an important matter in the French culture, so it is necessary to knock and wait to be let in before entering a room, it is also necessary to give notice before your arrival at least two weeks in advance, and not to pay an unannounced visit. Gift giving is not a necessary matter, however if gifts are to be given, gifts like books or music are preferred as they demonstrate interest in intellectual pursuits. When greeting other people, handshakes should be brief with a short span of eye contact. Handshakes should occur when meeting someone and when leaving, and Unlike the United States and some other countries handshakes should not be firm. Upon entering, it is expected to start by saying “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” with the honorific title “Monsieur” or “Madame”, and “au revoir” when upon leaving. Addressing should be in surnames as first names are reserved for family and close friends unless invited to use them. The guest should wait until told where to sit, and should maintain direct eye contact while speaking. Business is usually done slowly so patience is necessary, the French people also appreciate good negotiating skills and are likely to strongly defend their opinion expecting the same from other person, so conversations get heated and intense. It is not advised to be over friendly when communicating or speak about family or personal issues as the French like to differentiate between their business and personal lives. Business can be conducted during any meal, but it is favorable to do it during lunch. Breakfast is usually very simple and brief, and dinner is considered to be a leisure event where people gather with their families, and friends. Lunch is usually served from 12 to 2:00 PM, after that restaurants close their kitchens till dinner time which starts around 7:30 PM. During a business lunch the individual should wait for the host to bring up the subject of the business at a later stage of the meal. French people are very proud of their language and wouldn’t prefer to speak any other language else unless needed. When doing business, if the individual doesn’t speak French it would very important to apologize for one’s lack of knowledge. It would also be nice gestures if the person stated that he/she doesn’t speak French or by asking to speak English using French phrases. Almost all French businessmen speak English. The French greatly appreciate the art of conversation, and they will frequently interrupt as they consider arguing a form of entertainment. When in a conversation, it is important to be sensitive to one’s voice volume and don’t be loud since it is considered it to be offensive. Eye contact is also frequent and intense during conversations.
Business Cards:
Business cards are usually exchanged after the initial introductions have been made by the parties going into business without a certain ritual. It is preferable to have the other side of the business card translated in to french, it is not obligatory, but it will be a good gesture and will be appreciated. It is also advised to include any advanced academic degrees on the business card.
Geert Hofestede’s Index:
Arab World 80 38 52 68
France 68 71 43 86

Power Distance Index:
The Power Distance in the Arab world is higher than France; however, they are both high. This indicates that less powerful members of the organization expect and prefer that power and decision making to be centralized, hence they accept the inequality in the decision making process. Yet, there is a degree to the acceptance of this inequality; it is evident that the Arab World could accept it more than France. The data provided would indicate that in order to do business in France the decision-making should be centralized from the Cairo head office when we are moving in the market and the staff should be trained and follow tasks set by management.
There is a large difference between France and the Arab World when it comes to individualism. France has a high individualism score indicating that the French population prefers undertaking tasks and making decisions regarding themselves individually rather than consulting members in their society. While the Arab World scored 38, which is much lower than France indicating that it is more group oriented and does not make decision individually, also it focuses on developing the group they belong to rather than solely themselves. In order to target France the business approach towards the French consumer would be to address him/her individually and emphasize the benefits of the product to his/her daily life.

The Masculinity in the Arab World is 52, which is higher than France’s score of (43.) This indicates both cultures have a mixture of masculinity, as well as, Femininity. Therefore, both cultures are somehow similar when it comes to doing business, as they are competitive and assertive but in the same time they are kind, and having caring values. The French love the art of conversation, which is a positive sign for doing business with the Arab World, as Egyptian businessmen/women also enjoy conversations not necessarily related to business.
Uncertainty Avoidance Index:
The Uncertainty Avoidance Index score for France is alarmingly high with (86), when compared with the Arab World 68. This high score for France indicates that it is a very conservative culture that does not tolerate ambiguity and uncomfortable with unknown products or services. However, the French are a very cultured society and are fascinated with Egyptology so this will be beneficial for our product, since we offer Ancient Egyptian and Arabic furniture. This indicates that our product will be somehow familiar with the French cultured population, however, since the UAI is very high in order to avoid risk our business could hire a business consultant to advise us on a course of action in entering the market.
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