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Understanding the Intercultural Differences between Germans and the French in the Working Environment

An Empirical Analysis through Application of the Cultural Assimilator

Bachelorarbeit 2005 88 Seiten

Führung und Personal - Sonstiges


Table of contents


1 Introduction of the Topic
1.1 Problem
1.2 Objective
1.3 Scope and Limitations
1.4 Outline

2 Determining Factors of Intercultural Interaction
2.1 Culture
2.1.1 What is Culture?
2.1.2 Influence of National Culture on Corporate Culture
2.2 Communication
2.2.1 Cross-Cultural Communication
2.2.2 Communication Barriers
2.3 Intercultural Competence
2.3.1 Acquiring Intercultural Competence in Today’s Business World
2.3.2 The Danger of Stereotyping

3 Key Models of Cultural Dimensions
3.1 Hofstede and his Dimensions of Culture
3.1.1 Power Distance
3.1.2 Individualism vs. Collectivism
3.1.3 Femininity vs. Masculinity
3.1.4 Uncertainty Avoidance
3.2 Hall’s Dimensions of Culture
3.2.1 High Context vs. Low Context
3.2.2 Space
3.2.3 Time
3.3 Comparison of the two Models
3.3.1 Critical Observation of Hofstede’s Dimensions
3.3.2 Critical Observation of Hall’s Framework

4 Germany and France
4.1 Germany
4.1.1 Historical Background
4.1.2 Culture and Society
4.1.3 Education System
4.1.4 Economy
4.2 France
4.2.1 Historical Background
4.2.2 Culture and Society
4.2.3 Education System
4.2.4 Economy

5 The Approach of Germany and France in Everyday Life and Business
5.1 Development of the Relationship between Germany and France
5.1.1 Historical Development of the Bilateral Relations
5.1.2 Political Relations
5.1.3 Economic Relations
5.1.4 Cultural Relations
5.1.5 Cooperation in the Field of Education
5.2 Business Culture between French and German Companies
5.2.1 Management Style The Role of the Boss Decision-making Style Power vs. Money
5.2.2 Differing Attitudes to Work Task-Orientation vs. People-Orientation Functionality vs. Perfection Innovation vs. Conservatism Motivation – The Key for a Successful Cooperation

6 Empirical Review of the Culture Clash between French and Germans
6.1 The Concept of Cultural Assimilator
6.1.1 Research Method Description of Sample Research Design Method of Collecting Information Limitations
6.2 Critical Incidents
6.2.1 Student-Teacher Relationship Possible Solutions Explanation
6.2.2 An Unanswered Email Possible Solutions Explanation
6.2.3 Business Negotiation Possible Solutions Explanation
6.2.4 Time Management Possible Solutions Explanation
6.2.5 An Act of Friendship Possible Solutions Explanation
6.2.6 A Chaotic Meeting Possible Solutions Explanation
6.3 Suggestions for a Better Cooperation with French People

7 Conclusion


Appendix A: Questionnaire Interviewees

Table of Figures

Fig. 1: Three levels of human mental programming

Fig. 2: What Germans mean when they say

Fig. 3: Geert Hofstede

Fig. 4: Edward T. Hall

Fig. 5: 40th Anniversary - Elysée Treaty

Fig. 6: Voisins et Enemies

Fig. 7: Reconciliation between Adenauer and the Gaulle

Fig. 8: The academic mobility between Germany and France

Fig. 9: Need a strong management. “This feels good!”

Fig. 10: Meeting between Germans and French


The following analysis focuses on the examination of the French and German culture and its significance to the working environment. Although being neighbouring countries, the intercultural understanding between French and Germans is not always evident, but it is becoming more and more important in the era of a growing Europe.

During a six-month stay in the South of France, I worked as a volunteer in a Youth Information Centre. Although working in a public organization may not be comparable with being employed in a company, I was able to get an insight into French business life. Another stay in the South East of France enabled me to get to know university life for a period of five months. My friendships with the local people revealed various differences between the German and the French culture. Moreover, during a six-month internship in the international Marketing department of OSRAM GmbH in Germany, I experienced what difficulties may arise as a result of intercultural misunderstandings.

Even though the quantity of literature available on French and German culture has expanded over several years, I was astonished to find out how little people knew about their neighbouring country and its culture. Even in international business, cultural differences are neglected, and the national culture is often regarded as superior.

I therefore decided to analyse the reasons for misunderstandings between French and Germans in order to contribute to a better understanding of the culture of our French neighbours.

Finally, I would like to thank all people who gave me great support during the compilation phase of my thesis. Special thanks go to the Deutsch Französisches Institut, who supported my scientific research in their library. Thanks also to my various French and German interview partners from Osram GmbH, Bollhoff-Otalu S.A., MAN, as well as to many students who were eager to tell me about their internship experiences. I want to thank all my friends who supported my work by asking questions, expressing criticism and making helpful suggestions. Last but not least, I am very grateful for the support and understanding of my boyfriend Philipp, my parents and Kylie who showed great patience in proofreading.

1 Introduction of the Topic

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“In an ideal world, the policemen would be English, the car mechanics German, the cooks would be French, the bankers Swiss, and the lovers Italian. But in the real world, we must not forget that there are also policemen that are German, car mechanics that are French, cooks that are English, bankers that are Italian and lovers that are Swiss.” (

Internationalisation and globalisation have an enormous affect on every day life. The number and intensity of contacts - in business life, school, apprenticeship, advanced training or in private life - between people from different cultures is ever-increasing.

Due to a growing number of international companies and mergers, working together with foreign colleagues has become a usual occurrence for many people. It is therefore a central topic of the 21st century to cope with cultural diversity and develop intercultural competence.

Looking back at history, interaction between cultures is nothing new. Interstate contacts and intercultural processes have always been the result of political, military, economic and religious actions. In the majority of cases, the enlargement and stabilisation of the power structure were the fundamental causes for these processes.

Due to an expanding transportation system and technological progress, globalisation has entered a new dimension. Nowadays, information can be passed on across the globe easily and inexpensively; exchanges between schools, universities or businesses have become a stable feature; travelling around the world is no longer the privilege of the rich.

Accordingly, there are several areas of life affected by cross-cultural interactions; a very complex one is the working environment, which is the subject of this thesis.

1.1 Problem

Understanding the dynamics of international business encounters requires a fundamental shift from comparative studies of cultural differences to the study of intercultural interactions. The decisive issue in international management is not the existence of differences, but the way behavioural differences are perceived, interpreted, and managed by members of different national cultures.

This research will clarify the intercultural aspects of business relations between French and Germans. Why is this relationship of such great interest?

As the European Union grows, the idea of a European identity is spread among its member countries. Although these countries have a relatively close geographical position towards each other, there are still cultural differences (Barmeyer, 1996). In particular, the relationship between Germany and France shows that these differences persist and have even increased since the reunification of Germany in 1990 (Chevènement, 1996). Despite the establishment of numerous programs and institutions, with the aim of improving intercultural relations between these two countries, stereotypes and prejudices still exist on both sides of the Rhine. According to several publications and studies, everyday life as well as business life is equally affected by the inharmoniousness caused by these cultural differences (Breuer & de Bartha, 2002). Frequently, business negotiations and even mergers between German and French companies fail due to intercultural misunderstandings and the problems involved.

1.2 Objective

The aim of this thesis is to illustrate intercultural conflict potential between French and Germans in business life and to establish a better understanding of the French culture.

Behaviour patterns are an expression of various influences over the centuries. In order to acquire intercultural competence of a country, it is important to know about its applied geography and the consistencies in its economy, history and the cultural dimensions. Therefore, all of the relevant available data is used to describe specific characteristics, attitudes as well as typical behavioural patterns of Germans and French, which are often contradictory. How this can lead to problems and misunderstandings in business life, and how intercultural barriers can be overcome, will be shown in an empirical analysis based on interviews with French and Germans. The results will be presented, analysed, and explained using the Cultural Assimilator method, which is based on information given in the theoretical part.

1.3 Scope and Limitations

The plenitude of researches about German-French relations can hardly be ignored. Most works deal with the bilateral development concerning history, politics, and economy. Among these numerous books, there are only a few addressing the intercultural relations between France and Germany. Therefore, this thesis focuses on the intercultural understanding between both countries.

1.4 Outline

The first part consists of a theoretical review of literature that is designed to gather important information of the numerous academic publications on culture. Its intention is to enable the reader to develop a thorough understanding of the cultural concept. It includes the definition of culture and the illustration of how company culture is influenced by national culture. Furthermore, the term intercultural competence and how it is acquired is explained. After specifying the dangers of stereotyping, the cultural dimensions of two famous authors in this field, Hofstede and Hall, are presented. This part ends with a critical evaluation of the two concepts. The following chapters contain a general approach towards France and Germany including history, culture and society, educational system and economy. Subsequently, an overview of the relationship between the two countries will be delivered. The theoretical part, which aims at preparing the reader for the practical part of the thesis, ends with a detailed comparison about the different attitudes of French and Germans concerning business life.

The second, empirical part of the thesis contains critical situations between French and Germans, which have been collected using the qualitative research method. After a description of the research method, which includes a characterisation of the sample, the concept of the Cultural Assimilator is explained in detail. By applying this concept, the reader needs to resort to theoretical information, given in the first part, which shall increase his awareness of intercultural problems occurring in ordinary business life.

2 Determining Factors of Intercultural Interaction

Experience abroad has become indispensable for management positions. Therefore, more and more young people leave their home countries for a certain period of time in order to acquire international experience. A lot of intercultural knowledge is acquired by travelling, but even if someone has not yet been abroad, he/she will certainly know various facts about other countries and their culture. Unfortunately this knowledge is often based on word of mouth and as the topic of interculturality seems relatively easy to understand, a lot of people are certain they have become experts in intercultural relations after having spent just two weeks abroad. Although, experience abroad is the basis of acquiring knowledge about the culture of a country, one should first become familiar with the terms used in the context of intercultural interactions. Even famous authors writing about this subject often differ considerably on their definition of culture. Therefore, the following part focuses on exploring more deeply on the real meaning of culture, communication and intercultural competence.

2.1 Culture

The word culture is derived from the Latin root colere meaning “to inhabit”, “to cultivate”, or “to honour”. Originated during the 18th and 19th century in Europe, it was used to differentiate more civilised from less civilized cultures. Since then, several definitions of the word culture have been developed (Wikipedia, 05/2005).

The next part explains the meaning of culture , cultural standards, as well as the impact of culture on business life.

2.1.1 What is Culture?

In 1998, Scarborough describes culture as “[…] the set of values, attitudes, and beliefs shared by […] a group, which sets the standards of behaviour required for continued acceptance and successful participation in that group” (Scarborough, 1998, p. 1). According to a declaration on cultural diversity issued by the agency of the United Nations, UNESCO (2002), “[…] culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.” Based on these two definitions, common ways of perception, thinking, behaviour patterns and values are inherent in every culture. These values and norms, which are accepted and commonly used in a society, facilitate the well-ordered coexistence of mankind. The central aspects of this orientation system are known as ‘cultural standards’ – ranging from general values to binding rules. The behaviour of people at home or abroad is judged according to these cultural standards, which define the range of tolerance. Different cultures can have similar cultural standards, but they may have developed in a different way so that they might only be noticed in certain situations or are perceived less important (Thomas, 1999).

According to what has been said until now, it is important to reiterate that culture should not be confused with nationality as there are groups who share the same cultural values across geographical boundaries (Gibson, 1998).

For the most part, these shared values and behaviour patterns are exercised unconsciously or as Hofstede states in a different way “culture is the collective programming of the mind […]” (Hofstede, 1974, p. 5). This collective programming of mindset and behaviour is “passed on, learned by newcomers from more experienced predecessors” (Scarborough, 1998, p. 1), in other words, values, rituals, perceptions, preferences and attitudes are transmitted from generation to generation, they are not inherited or genetic (Hofstede, 1997).

From infancy, children are told by their parents how to behave politely in social situations, they are taught good table manners and that certain rules should be obeyed. Besides the family, teacher, friends, which coin the child’s behaviour, other key figures like charismatic leaders, religion, political power, physical surroundings and economy can shape culture and therefore our core beliefs (Scarborough, 1998; Lewis, 1996): the Islam, for instance, highly influences the core values of its adherents; people living in communist countries are affected by the constant fight for democracy; Eskimos adjust their living style to the prevailing harsh climate. Depending on the success of an economy, inhabitants of the developing world have formed other family values than those living in developed countries.

In his model of mental programming (see Fig. 1, illustrated on the next page), Hofstede (1997) clarifies the difference between human nature, which expresses the congenital skills of every human being like the ability to fear, to communicate, to associate, and culture which originates from one’s social environment. Consequently, someone’s personality is influenced by culture combined with unique personal experiences.

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Fig. 1: Three levels of uniqueness in human mental programming

So far, the definition of the word culture, which represents shared values of a given group, has been defined in detail. Furthermore, it was analysed how human values develop and in which way they influence the behaviour of individuals. Based on this knowledge, the next chapter provides answers to the question “what will happen if a culture correlates with another one?” “When people of one culture compare themselves to another, they tend to see their own culture as normal and superior and the other as aberrational and inferior” (Scarborough, 1998, p. 14). People tend to regard other cultures as extrinsic because they are different from their own (Lewis, 1996).

In which way does a culture alter if confronted with another culture? How do humans react to foreign values and behaviour patterns? Will they adapt their attitude? Are employees less efficient when working in a multinational environment? And, after all, what impact does national culture have on corporate culture? The following paragraphs will provide further details on these questions.

2.1.2 Influence of National Culture on Corporate Culture

National culture[1] exerts great influence on global behaviour patterns as well as on company’s overall corporate culture; or as Breuer and de Bartha (2002) would put it “die Landeskultur legt sich wie ein Ring um die Unternehmenskultur”[2] (p. 69).

Management e.g. is based on creative processes, which are formed intensely by culture and national originalities (Breuer & de Bartha, 2002). As a result of universally accepted values shared by country’s inhabitants, employees either prefer a directive or participating management style (Hofstede, 1997).

National culture also affects important everyday business practices like: communication, decision-making processes, employer-employee relationship, motivation, and timing. More details concerning these issues will be provided later in this thesis.

Although there have been many attempts to impose a certain corporate culture on employees, there is no chance for principles, disposed by a company to advance efficiency, unless they comply with the national culture (Pateau, 1999). If there is a high conformity between national culture and business values, the implementation will be easier and faster. If these values collide, however, national culture will hinder the intrusion of the principles and will lead to a delay of new management models (Hahn, 1999). Hence, corporate culture does not deactivate national culture.

According to the given information, corporate culture emerges from a national culture model. Therefore, it is hardly impossible to carry over a corporate culture, which is efficient in one country, on another culture. As a consequence, it is inevitable not to deal with the cultural dimensions of a country when implementing business culture. Pateau, 1999

2.2 Communication

“Communication is the process of exchanging information usually via a common system of symbols” (Dance, 1970, p. 201). People communicate in order to share information, thoughts, knowledge and experiences. Typical ways of communication include sign language, gestures, writing or speaking. A lot of signs and gestures occur without knowledge. Thus, the SEL Foundation in Stuttgart, Germany, found out that two people exchange, analyse and process over 400,000 signals within a 30-minutes conversation (Breuer & de Bartha, 2002). Since the communication style is influenced by one’s culture, the following part is aimed at investigating how people from different cultural backgrounds try to communicate with one another and the difficulties that may arise.

2.2.1 Cross-Cultural Communication

Cultural growth in the 21st century has heightened the emphasis on communication in an intercultural setting. As the globalisation proceeds and the world becomes more and more interconnected by means of technological advances, the need for effective cross-cultural communication among different cultures is of increasing importance (Gibson, 1998).

The term Cross-Cultural Communication, also known as Intercultural Communication, dates back to 1959, which was according to Hart (1997), the same year in which Hall, a famous author in this field, published his work „The silent language“. Pusch and Hoopes (1979) stated that Hall’s work "gave us the first comprehensive analysis of the relationship between communication and culture" (p. 10). Cross-Cultural Communication can be defined as the area of study that attempts to understand the effects of culture on communication (Hart, 1997).

Besides language, following behavioural concepts play an important role in intercultural communication: kinesics (body movements), proxemics (space organisation), oculesics (eye movement), haptics (touching behaviour) as well as paralinguistic concepts, such as accents, intonation, speed of talking and so on (Dahl, 2004).

In order to illustrate the difficulties, which may occur between two different cultures during a conversation, Dahl (2004) refers to the eye contact, which is a very important means of communication in Western countries, whereas in Asian countries constant eye contact is unacceptable. It becomes obvious that this difference may lead to misunderstandings between people of different cultures.

The act of handshaking is another example to show how a conversation can be influenced by culture from the beginning. If we refer to the French custom of handshaking, it can be noticed that the handshake of the French is relatively light and easy whereas Germans shake hands in a tighter way. For Germans weak handshaking is considered as discourteous behaviour. In France, however, a tight handshake may be regarded as uncivilised or even harassing (Breuer & de Bartha, 2002).

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Fig. 2: What Germans mean when they say…

The above picture illustrates that people do not always expect the same answer when asking a question. Here the American just wants to be friendly by asking the German “how are you?” expecting only a short answer. Above all, he does not want to hear something negative about the person’s present state of affairs. Unlike the American, the German expresses gratitude for the sympathy shown and consequently reports in detail how he really feels.

Being aware of the fact that culture influences communication, it is also important to keep in mind that “the essence of effective cross cultural communication has more to do with releasing the right response than with sending the “right” message” (Hall, 1990, p. 4) or according to Breuer and de Bartha (2002): the basis of communication is a good relationship - frankness and trust.

Nevertheless, there are fundamental communication barriers, which will be further clarified in the next section.

2.2.2 Communication Barriers

A retired German businessman, who had worked in Paris for several years, explained during an interview conducted for this thesis “Natürlich konnte ich Französisch sprechen, aber wenn es um wichtige Dinge ging, war immer ein Dolmetscher vor Ort. Zum Beispiel bei Vertragsunterzeichnungen - am Schluß hätte ich noch den Franzosen meine Firma verkauft und es nicht einmal gemerkt!”[3] This example shows clearly that language is an important and often indispensable means of communication. One might expect that nowadays speaking the English language would be sufficient to communicate with people from foreign countries. This is probably true for some countries, but due to reasons explained later, in France for instance, one is almost lost without knowing at least a few words of French. “Auf französischer wie auf deutscher Seite ist man sich […] einig darüber, daß Kompetenzen in der jeweils anderen Sprache eine wesentliche Voraussetzung für die interkulturelle Verständigung schlechthin darstellen”[4] (Zimmermann, 1995, p. 153).

In addition, differences in body language, which were described earlier (see 2.1.1), as well as one’s mental attitude, may lead to intercultural misunderstandings. Varieties in motivation and working habits, or fear of the other culture, may also cause serious problems and result in project failure (Breuer & de Bartha, 2002).

Another prominent barrier of intercultural communication is the notion of Self-fulfilling-prophecy. This term describes a situation, which will be positive or negative depending on one’s prior perception. The following example of school life illustrates this effect: The performance of a student may be influenced in a positive or negative way, merely by the teacher’s expectations; they can be so strong that the student will act accordingly. The same is true for numerous other examples, e.g. an interaction between a German and a French businessman: When a French is late for a meeting; the German will find the stereotype of the unpunctual French affirmed and reacts cool on the arrival of his counterpart. The French businessman, however, will judge the German’s behaviour as unfriendly and cold. Breuer & de Bartha, 2002; Pateau, 1999

In order to overcome these existing difficulties, Intercultural Competence plays an important role in international business. The next chapter will explain this term as well as the problems involved in acquiring intercultural knowledge.

2.3 Intercultural Competence

As stated on the website of the Centre of Intercultural Competence (02/2005) “Intercultural competence is the ability for successful communication with people of other cultures. “

Tensions occur frequently in everyday life, for example, between different individuals of the same culture. The competence required to solve interpersonal problems is called social competence which is the basis of intercultural competence, (Breuer & de Bartha, 2002), or, as the author Stefan Zweig puts it, “Wer einmal den Menschen in sich begriffen hat, der begreift alle Menschen”[5] (Breuer & de Bartha 2002, p. 71). In addition to social competence, the knowledge of cultural dimensions, as well as communication skills constitutes an important part of intercultural competence (Barmeyer, 1999).

Having made these brief introductory remarks about the term of intercultural competence, the key to intercultural competence and how it can be improved will be investigated in the first part of the next chapter. The second part will cover the direct link between intercultural competence and the risk of lumping together all individuals of one culture regarding their behaviour patterns.

2.3.1 Acquiring Intercultural Competence in Today’s Business World

Intercultural conflicts, the failure of projects and even the collapse of mergers between companies of different cultures resulting in immense costs (Pateau, 1999), were the reason for many board members to rethink their strategy. In order to train expatriates for their future job in a new environment, many companies nowadays offer, in addition to language courses, intercultural seminars to convey intercultural awareness to their employees (and sometimes also to their spouses). There are a large number of companies specialised in intercultural training. These seminars usually last between one and several days and are often held by people who have lived in the relevant country. Basic knowledge of history, culture, eating habits and specialties are taught by using various methods (presentations, role plays, etc.).

However, these intercultural training lessons are limited to particular countries. The person responsible for Osram´s expatriates stated that in her company intercultural seminars are only offered to expatriates who are sent to Asian countries; European countries are often neglected due to the geographical closeness. This attitude can be described as “kulturelle Blindheit”[6] (cited in Barmeyer, 1999, p. 373), which leads to an underestimation of the influence of culture. Barmeyer, 1999

Although, cultural differences for European countries are being neglected, it can be said, that the number of intercultural seminars offered has considerably increased. While this development is a positive one, the following questions should be analyzed more closely: Are one or two days of intercultural training sufficient for getting to know a new culture well and thus acquiring intercultural competence? Are there any cultures, which are so similar to ours that it is not necessary to have an extensive training?

Interestingly, 2 out of 21 French and German interview partners conducted for this thesis, considered an intercultural preparation for working together with French/Germans (see appendix A: questionnaire interviewees) as unnecessary. Later in the interview, every one of them named at least one misunderstanding and several difficulties in the interaction with the other culture - an intercultural seminar might have prevented some of these problems. This attitude is demonstrated by the experience of two consultants for intercultural relations: Breuer and de Bartha (2002). In their book “Deutsch-französische Geschäftsbeziehungen erfolgreich managen”, they explain that they are not consulted until a company is in serious trouble due to intercultural misunderstandings, or to put it shortly, if it is already too late.

One reason for this might be that today’s managers focus on working efficiently and therefore believe a language course, a one day seminar or sometimes even a book dealing with the relevant subject, is sufficient to learn how to interact professionally with the other culture. This success-oriented thinking also explains why intercultural training seminars for expatriates sent to European countries are often viewed as unnecessary.

Language courses, intercultural training seminars, books, and conversations with experienced colleagues are means of helping people to acquire intercultural awareness or intercultural competence. This intercultural knowledge alone, however, is insufficient, as the following example will illustrate.

People are often aware of cultural differences, e.g. it is widely known that people from Southern countries are not very punctual. What happens if a French businessman is late at a meeting scheduled with his German colleague? If the German is aware of the different time perception of the French, he probably will not mention it, although he considers being late as inefficient. Nevertheless, the meeting will be influenced by stress and silent accusation of the German, which will surely be noticed by his French partner (Breuer & de Bartha, 2002).

Furthermore, technical knowledge will no longer suffice in order to be successful in intercultural business. Intercultural sensibility, understanding, the willingness to adjust to cultural rules, norms and customs of the other country are highly demanded qualifications and can contribute to a competitive advantage over a business rival. A basic requirement is to have a thorough knowledge of other cultures, but also of one’s own culture (Thomas, Kinast & Schroll-Machl, 2003). Moreover, it is important to accept that the behaviour of the people of other cultures is not better or worse, but simply different (Hecht-El Minshawi, 2003). Therefore, it is essential to understand why other cultures act in a certain way. Moreover, the behaviour of other cultures should not be measured on one’s own cultural standards.

Intercultural competence also means being aware of generalisations and prejudices. It is obvious that in a research about cultures, there is a certain danger of lumping together people belonging to the same culture, which will be dealt with in the following chapter.

2.3.2 The Danger of Stereotyping

In describing a culture, generalisations are being made, i.e. simplified mental pictures of an individual or a group of people sharing certain characteristic qualities are portrayed.

According to Scarborough (1998) “we confront the issue of stereotyping”. This term is often used in a negative sense, nevertheless it is correct to characterize a group of people as being different from another one, not just because of their physical appearance. Cultural anthropologists use the term core values to define the values that describe a group most accurately.


[1] The word national culture, as used in this chapter, refers to the culture of one country. It might seem controversial to speak of national culture although it was stated before that there might be similar cultural traits beyond the national frontiers. Unfortunately it is inevitable to generalise when knowledge of the culture of a specific country is imparted, as it is the purpose of this thesis (Breuer & de Bartha, 2002).

[2] Suggested translation by the author:“the national culture encircles the corporate culture.”

[3] Suggested translation by the author:“Of course I was able to speak French, but for matters of great importance we always used the service of an interpreter. E. g. when agreements had to be signed – in the end, I might have ended up selling my company to the French without even noticing it.”

[4] Suggested translation by the author:“French as well as German experts agree that foreign language skills are an absolute must for intercultural understanding.”

[5] Suggested translation by the author:“Someone who has understood the human as such will be able to understand all humans.”

[6] Suggested translation by the author:“cultural blindness”


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Titel: Understanding the Intercultural Differences between Germans and the French in the Working Environment