Geography, Climate and the Socio-Political History of France
France is commonly officially known as the French Republic. The country is in the Western Europe with several territories and islands. France is sometimes referred to as the Hexagon because of the Hexagonal shape of its territory. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Monaco and Spain and Andorra lie on its south.
It is connected to the United Kingdom via a Channel Tunnel which passes through English Channel. France is the largest country in West-European country with the second exclusive economic zone in the world. It covers 11,035,000 square kilometers (Dahl, 2006).
France is one of the worlds most populated country and also one of the world most developed nation. It is the country with the words’ highest life expectancy and one of the best in terms of health care facilities as listed by the World Health Organization. In terms of tourism, it is the worlds most visited country receiving 82 million tourists each year.
It’s the founding member of United Nations and a member of G8, G20 and NATO among other organizations. Two third of France is composed of mountains and hills. These include the Alps, Pyrenees and Vosges ranges. Mont Blanc in the Alps is the highest mountain in Europe. The capital city of he French Republic is Paris which is the world’s most beautiful city and a popular tourist area (McKenzie, 2007).
The French population has diverse origins. Many people have settled in France including Celts, Romans, Germans, Russians, Asians, Africans and North Americans. The population composition and size varies with region in France. Traditionally France used to be a rural based population but today about 75% live in cities and towns.
One of the most important parts of France is art and culture. Many famous artists are from France with several writers coming from France. Sports are Commonplace in France with soccer being the most common sport activity in France. France is located mid-way between the equator and the North Pole. This gives France a temperate climate with some areas at times becoming either extremely cold. The Mediterranean coast is washed by the warm Gulf Stream current that provide mild winter and hot dry summers.
In the mountainous regions of France, climate tends to be moderate with some considerable rain and snow (Dahl, 2006). The official language in France is French although in addition, there are more than seven officially recognized languages including Catalan, Gallo, and Tahitian among others. In addition, there are nine local French based languages which give up to 23 languages spoken in France.
The main religion is Roman Catholic with Muslim, Protestant and Jewish forming the minority. The education in France is composed of 10 years of compulsory education with literacy levels being 99%. The fact that France has access to the rest of the word places it strategically to reach different markets to sell finished products as well as get raw materials for its industries (Kabundi, 2004).
Dominant Economic Activity
France has many economic activities which it carries on to finance its economy. Key among the economic activities is trade. France mainly relies on exports which earns it a lot of revenue. The exports are wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, pork, wine and fruits especially grapes that are used to make wine. These economic activities are agriculturally based and are mainly practiced in those areas in France that have good climate that favors agriculture.
Tourism industry still remains one of the most important economic activities in France providing employment to many people. France, because of its moderate climate and a number of tourist attraction centers remain one of the most visited countries in the world. Every year travelers across the world come to France to have a look at the breath taking and interesting view of the landscapes and mountains.
They also come with an interest of checking the museums and monuments. Because of these reasons, tourism in France plays a very central role and it has gained a lot of importance in the country. The government has taken all steps necessary to promote tourism. France is deeply involved with word economic bodies like GATT and WTO which continue to shape the economic. These bodies have impacted positively on the face of economic policies.
These economic organizations have liberalized market and effects have created new avenues for trade which have promoted the position of France in the global market. In summary, the economic activities in France can be categorized into agriculture, industry, services, trade and exchange. Industries found in France include aircraft, electronics, transportation, textile, clothing and food processing. France is the founding member of NATO and has worked to adapt NATO internally and external (Kabundi, 2004).
The Effect of Globalization in France
Globalization is changing countries lifestyles with the pace of economic interdependence. This in other words is changing the lives as the pace of interdependence grows between developed and emerging countries.
France has reaped substantial benefits from globalization. The important question we need to ask ourselves is what efforts has France done to enable consumers, workers, companies and governments reaped the advantages of globalization which it continues to reap. On trade, globalization has enabled France to reap benefits from both imports and exports. France remains one of the most competitive trading entities in the world.
Globalization has enabled France to gain both in manufacturing and service trade which has benefited many companies and industries. Because of globalization, France continues to enjoy strong outflows and inflows. France has experienced net outflows because its one of the most attractive sites for multinationals. Multinationals are finding it particularly advantageous to invest in France given its economic policies which are sound and its strong as well as due to its political stability.
Globalization has had an effect on labor mobility in France. Because of globalization, there is now greater mobility of labor. Mobility of labor is the movement of labor from one point to another. This has enabled French firm meet their labor requirements. The immigrants have provided an offsetting factor to the declining population as well as France’s aging population (Adekola & Sergi, 2007).
Globalization has an effect on France in that inflation is lower. This has been brought about by more competition and lower cost of inputs. The source of these cheap inputs is from developing countries. It’s important to note that greater demand for food and energy has pushed prices up but despite that, inflation is lower than expected. There have been net gains in employment. Employment growth has slowed down.
There have been tougher labor regulations which pose a threat to employment creation in industries. The new rules on cross boarder trade will create more jobs. The other effect of globalization in France is in the issue of wages. Because of globalizations wages have gone up. The increase in wages is because of lower inflation, increase in competition and more product variety which has enhanced consumer choice.
Real GDP has grown. This has been brought about by more trade resulting from opened markets. There has been an effect on technology also. Because of globalization France has experienced technological diffusion. Greater technological know-how has helped to boost trade in services and has as well allowed companies in France to access more of global technology skills of developing countries which has worked well for France (Peng, 2008).
Tourism Industry In France
The industry I will discuss is France tourist industry. The tourism industry in France is well developed. Tourism industry is one of the most important industries in the economy of France. France is a major tourist destination in the world. Every year travelers across the world come to France to have a look at the breath taking and interesting view of the landscapes and mountains.
They also come with an interest of checking the museums and monuments. Because of these reasons, tourism in France plays a very central role and it has gained a lot of importance in the country. The government has taken all steps necessary to promote tourism. The numerous castles, mountain ranges, hills, landscapes, museums and other exiting attraction centers has led to rampant growth of tourism industry in France.
Tourist coming to France each year gets an opportunity to see the beauty of France as illustrated by snow capped Alps as well as the majestic Pyrenees. One is still offered the opportunity to trek to Mount Blanc which is the highest point in the country. Apart from the sceneries discussed above one is also able to check out ten coastlines along the Mediterranean Sea in the South and the Atlantic Ocean in the West. These spots offer a very suitable site for picnics and other types of holiday outings (Peng, 2008).
Tourism industry still remains one of the most important economic activities in France providing employment to many people. France, because of its moderate climate and a number of tourist attraction centers remain one of the most visited countries in the world.
While in France, tourist industry also offers one an opportunity to visit the beautiful cities in the country like for instance Paris which is the capital of the country and is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are many museums and monuments that can provide one with an opportunity to enjoy his visit in France. These include for instance Eiffel Tower, Cathedral of Notre dam, Arc de Triomphe, Chateau d’If among many others.
Tourism industry is important in France and plays a major role towards the economic growth and development of the country. About 6% of the country’s revenue is generated from tourism industry. Many international visitors visit France from time to time which adds revenue to the country. The growth of tourism industry has led to growth of other industries which are an integral part of the culture of French people. For example, the continued influx of visitors has led to the growth of the handicraft industry.
As people come to watch the scenery of France, they get a chance to buy traditional French articles and souvenirs. Despite the fact that France gets a lot of benefits from tourism it also has to deal with many disadvantages arising from Tourism. The first important disadvantage is alienation of culture whereby those visiting the country come with their mother countries’ cultural practices. When these cultural practices mix with the cultural practices of France, there is an erosion of Frances culture (Page, 2009).
Culture & Communication
Prevailing National Culture in France
French culture represents the diverse nature of the country. France is considered as the cultural centre for the world. Although the French culture has some elements of modernity, it also holds strong to the traditional values and practices. But in France, one is able to see majestic art work which all forms the beauty of French culture.
The culture of French has a position for the French music. According to Dahl (2006), “Basque, Corsica, Brittany are the most popular traditional types of music in France” (p.35). Also Classical music for example, French opera and Romanticism are important part of the culture.
Some dos and don’ts also form part of French culture. For instance one is not suppose to rest his feet on the table in France. In addition, one is not allowed to speak with food in his mouth. Also one is not expected to talk with his hands in the pocket. A person in France is not supposed to use tooth pick or a comb in public. There are several foods that form part of French culture and these include for instance sauces, soup, bread, crepes, cheese, and wine among others (Dahl, 2006).
According to Fons Trompenaars’ seven dimensions of culture, French culture is classifiable in seven dimensions. Under the Individualism vs. collectivism dimension France has asset of rules which govern the relationship of people with each other. The culture and value gives the do and don’ts. There are those things that you are not allowed to do by the cultural practices of French people.
In the Individualism vs. collectivism dimension French people prefer working in a group as opposed to doing duties individually. There is a sense of individual achievement among the French and each manager should be keen to use this to his advantage. Under Neutral vs. emotional dimension French people display emotions using various forms of communication these include verbal and non-verbal communication. There is use of gestures to give emotions.
There is need for one to understand these gestures well so as to understand the message in them. Under Specific vs. diffuse dimension, the French have a definite way in which they handle relationships. They see relationships as going on in a specific and predetermined way. Under achievement vs. ascription dimension, the French people like achieving status. They do this through hard work.
French people are organized and are also very concerned about their time and schedules. They like performance and they enjoy good results of hard work. Under Sequential vs. synchronic dimension French are sequential and very orderly people who believe that each time has its own activities to be done. Under Internal vs. external dimension the French believe in having total control of their environment. This is for example shown by the way they work so hard to maintain a healthy economic status (Dahl, 2006).
Analysis of Communication Practices in France
Communication in France is deep rooted in the culture of the French people. We have verbal and non-verbal communication in France. One of the first non-verbal communications is eye contact. Whenever eye contact is made, it implies impartiality in France. It’s not normally used by strangers because it can bring another meaning.
Eye contact is an indication of friendly relationship especially to a waiter in a hotel. Shaking hands is another form of non-verbal communication. Handshake is important in France because ones character can be judged by the handshake. The other form of none verbal communication is the double kiss. This is important especially for two close people who are parting. It’s also common among family members and even among the public.
French people also use gestures in their communication for instance, they count using their figures and when they are counting they begin with the thumb as number one then the index figure as number two and the middle figure as three. There is also a gesture of showing that somebody is lazy. This is done by holding one hand flat and then using the other to pull out as if you are pulling something growing on your palm as you say “Il a un poil dans la main”.
There is also a gesture to illustrate how delicious something is or how beautiful a thing is. This is done by holding your figures and kissing the figure tips. After which you open your hand and toss the figures in the air. To show that you have finished doing something, you can do that easily using a gesture. What you do is to cross the arms in front of your body with your palms out then you move them suddenly out. That means that you have finished doing something.
There is yet another gesture that shows that you want to sleep and to show that somebody is asleep here you put your palms together then you place your hands on the shoulder then rest your cheek on your hands. To add more weight or to stress that somebody is asleep you may close your eyes. There is yet “another sign that shows that one smells badly or even to show that something smells badly or is repugnant” (Dahl, 2006, p.40). This is done by holding your nose.
There is a gesture associated with swearing in which you put or place your hand on top of your head. This tells that you swear or promise what you have told somebody. When you want to mean nothing you can do that using a gesture. This is done by forming a circle with you figure and the thumb. To say that you are sorry, people cover their mouth by use of either one or both of your hands. This shows that you are sorry for your actions.
Light kissing is also regarded as a normal practice in this country. The number of kisses and the side of the cheek that kiss starts varies from one region to another. French shake hands when they meet somebody and this is common especially in the business circles. It’s not good to slap an open palm over a crossed fist because this is generally considered a vulgar gesture.
Cross Cultural Management
Cultural characteristics affect innovation in France. For an industry operating in France must realize that culture throughout France is varied and to ensure cross cultural management it’s important to mind to treat each person with equal respect. It’s safe to be formal and reserved in your behavior and expect your French colleagues will be the same.
Communication can be formal and informal depending on the relationship between you. The French culture emphasizes courtesy and a high degree of formality. The chief managers in the French companies come from a select group of Universities and share a similar background (Adler & Allison, 2008).
New managers in the French industries should carefully study the corporate culture of the companies they are coming to manage. This is because employees come from various cultural backgrounds. They therefore range between those who are open to the management to those who keep to themselves and those who believe it’s important to keep quiet and execute the orders of the management.
France culture allows for intellectual adaptability and readiness for change. France is considered to have minimum tolerance to change and risk. It’s therefore important for the management to introduce change gradually having considered the benefits of the change if it’s to be accepted by the people.
The fear of exposure and embarrassment brings aversion to risk. In France, failure causes long-tem loss of confidence by the individual as well as buys the others. This attitude in France is the one that the managers should look at keenly and also consider having intercultural sensitivity especially when conducting meetings and discussing the contributions done b y each individual (Punnett, 2010).
France is a country controlled by time culture and the adherence to schedules is very important. In France, missing a deadline shows poor management skills and inefficiency. This will affect people’s confidence. So it implies that effective cross cultural management will require that an individual have the ability to meet deadlines. When it comes to effective decisions making, the management also need to have in mind that the French have a strong cultural perceptions. Hierarchy is an important part of the French business culture.
In France rank has its privilege. Decisions making normally originates from top level sometimes without consultation. The French like working in a team and well coordinated groups. They value communication within the group to be quite collegial, albeit and somehow direct. French like it when the roles in the team are clearly defined (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2009). This helps people to take a greater responsibility for their specific tasks.
Successful cross cultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to harness the talent of the group and to capitalize on it. In the area of communications and negotiations, the French prefer courtesy and degree of formality. It’s important in France to wait to be told to sit because may be there is a protocol to be followed. During communications it’s important to try and avoid cross cultural misunderstandings.
French don’t like confrontational behavior or high pressure strategies to achieving goals. These need to be avoided. It’s also good to understand that the French are very keen to detail. French are happy about good debating skills that demonstrate an underlying intelligence. It’s not wise to be too friendly to the French because they mainly focus on their business and personal lives. In summary, in France the following points are important in cross cultural management.
- Individual respect/demand for authority creates tension with strong belief in individualism
- High tolerance of blunders on the part of management
- Management system is elitist and autocratic, but not familial (there is a merit based element to it)
- Organizations are highly centralized and hierarchical with decisions made at the top
- Information is not allowed to filter down below certain levels of the organization
- The president of a French company is not answerable to anyone and status is attributed on the grounds of family, age, education, and professional qualifications (Endy, 2004).
The management style I would propose is the authoritarian style of leadership. This is where the manager tells the employees what is to be done and the employees in return do exactly that. Employees in this type of leadership style are not given room to decide how and when to perform their duties. The manager who is seen as the boss is the one who does that. I would propose this style of leadership based on the cultural perspectives of the French people. The organizations in France are highly centralized with decisions coming from the top. Also information is not allowed to come from the employees but instead comes from the management. Leadership style like democratic style may not work well given the culture and circumstance of French people (Endy, 2004).
Appropriate Motivation Techniques for Local Workers
The most important and effective means of motivating workers is providing incentive. The company can have award schemes for workers who do their work well. These incentives can take form of cash, bonus or even non-cash items.
Because the French value group works, I would recommend that the incentives be given to groups and teams as well as to the individuals who perform well. The reason I fell that incentive is the best way to motivate the employees is because French are keen to detail and pay keen to minute aspects. It’s therefore in that spirit that the organization should reward them with something that they can feel.
Also French have strong sense on individualism and therefore giving a reward to somebody reaches down to his personality. In addition to being given incentives, the France government can as well introduce promotional packs to the employees these promotional packs go along way to motivate the employees and feel part of the organization (Dahl, 2004).
Effect of Cultural Characteristics of France on Ethics
Cultural characteristics of France have an effect ethics. This is because ethics originate from values and cultures of the people concerned. For example, in a country where the culture values morals then it would be important for the industry in that country to have good ethics. In a country where culture dictates on the values then the industrial ethics must be a reflection of those values.
For instance, in France the culture has an element of courtesy it becomes important therefore for the business to have business ethics geared towards achieving high standards of courtesy. A variation in ethical issues especially those dealing with employee welfare can work well for the tourism industry in France.
This is where employees are let not just to implement policies but to generate policies as well. Culture governs ethics like you should not put your feet on the table, you should not also use tooth picks in public. Talking with hands in pockets is also not allowed. A fruit should be peeled with a knife and eaten with a fork. All hand should be kept on top of the table and one should not speak with food in his mouth (Kabundi, 2004).
Key Challenges for the Retention and Dissemination of Knowledge
The key challenge for the retention and dissemination of knowledge for a company operating within this country is first is the issue of dealing with employees from various cultures. Differences exist about what different people term as good or bad.
Also different gestures mean different things to different people. In communicating with such people it might be a challenge. There will also be a challenge in retention and dissemination of information owing to the unique nature of kind of the clients it handles.
Tourism industry handles unique clients from diverse parts of the word. Giving communication that has meaning to these people is a problem. The people come from different countries each with its own ways of communicating and passing message. Unifying all these people from different background to a common means and mode of communication is a challenge (Punnett, 2010).
France is a country of diverse culture and these diverse cultures have an effect on business ethics in the industries operating within France. Communication in France is deep rooted in the culture of the French people. We have verbal and non-verbal communication in France.
France culture allows for intellectual adaptability and readiness for change. France is considered to have minimum tolerance to change and risk. It’s therefore important for the management to introduce change gradually having considered the benefits of the change if it’s to be accepted by the people. The fear of exposure and embarrassment brings aversion to risk (Kabundi, 2004).
In France, failure causes long term loss of confidence by the individual as well as buys the others. Tourism industry in France is well developed with many visitors coming to the country throughout the year. Tourism is one of the main revenue earners. The reason why France receives many tourists is because of its fantastic landscape and excellent scenery.
France has taken advantage of globalization in that it has expanded its market reaches as well as supplying it with labor. Globalization has had an effect on labor mobility in France. Because of globalization, there is now greater mobility of labor. Mobility of labor is the movement of labor from one point to another. This has enabled French firm meet their labor requirements. The immigrants have provided an offsetting factor to the declining population as well as France’s aging population (Punnett, 2010).
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