31/07/2016 France and Germany two countries drifting apart Always the same story of the Cigale and the Fourmi. Political, economic and demographic issues occur more and more frequently between France and Germany. Our two countries, which have for decades been the driving force behind European integration, increasingly see the world through totally different eyes.
Today we can say that the balance between Germany and France no longer exists. Germany’s population is now 25% larger than that of France, its economy almost 40 % bigger, and growing much faster than that of France.
When eight out of 10 French people say unemployment is a very big problem there are only three out of 10 Germans. When 66% of the French think inflation is a major issue, only 33 % of Germans worried prices increase. Of course more than 70% of French are worried about public debt, when less than 40% of Germans share this concern.
To have a more “basic human” view of those differences, we asked several managers in those two countries some basic questions!
What do German managers think about their French colleagues -and the opposite?
Today, we would like to share our results with you (nothing scientific) from sending dozens of emails only to a group of French and German managers I know personally. We asked German and French managers what their views were on the cultural characteristics of their counterparts while doing business. The results are interesting, even funny, and they show that there are more things in common than those that separate them. Furthermore, it also reveals that many of the comments are reciprocal.
The purpose of our questions was to show that many generalized views on other cultures are clichés or prejudices. Indeed, knowledge and real business are the best bridges between different cultures.
Clichés on French managers by their German counterparts:
- They disregard German culture.
- They don´t speak a word of German.
- They are a little bit lazy, and always over-occupied by Unions, bureaucracy and so-called social rights.
- They always look for quick returns.
- They think that their own ways of thinking and living are the best.
- They only apply the hard rules and principles to foreigners never to themselves.
- They overemphasize the importance of the individual at the expense of the group.
- They don´t respect hierarchy.
- They don´t care much about the future.
- They seldom recognize that the political and economic systems in Germany have generated economic growth.
Clichés on German managers by their French counterparts
- They mostly say no to French initiatives.
- They are not creative at all.
- Negotiations frequently take place in groups.
- They always ask for a lot of details, to verify facts and terms.
- They feel very strong, over confident, and they expect to rule Europe.
- They are too pragmatic.
- Their abidance to the laws and to the authorities is too extreme.
New evidence of a dramatic divergence of public opinion across the Rhine has emerged with the issue of the refugees coming from Syria. In addition, we are now facing the Brexit along with the absence of strong joint leadership by Paris and Berlin and other problems. If the Franco-German alliance doesn’t restart the motor driving every effort to broaden and deepen the European Union, then the future of the union doesn’t look so bright ….
Published in several magazines on 3 continents