What is particular about French culture compared to German culture?
As a result, what conflicts could arise in business communication between these two cultures?
The Theory of Edward T. Hall
Time: Polychronic versus Monochronic
Context: High-Context versus Low-Context
The Dimensions of Geert Hofstede
Power Distance Index
Uncertainty Avoidance Index
Long Term Orientation Index
In our ever-growing world of international and global business, intercultural business communication is becoming more and more important to everybody acting on an international basis, either with colleagues from foreign branches or with clients who are based all over the world. So, what is actually meant by the term of intercultural business communication? It refers to the concourse of business individuals having different social, ethnic, religious and educational backgrounds. One can see that it not only happens when people from different countries meet and that the importance of effective communication can hardly be overstated. As Trudy Milburn, professor at CSUCI (California State University Channel Islands), stated in her article in Management Review, communication serves not only as an expression of cultural background, but also as a shaper of cultural identity. And not only is the verbal communication important in business communication. 60-70 % of our communication happens on a non-verbal basis. It starts with different perceptions of time, and goes over to how people listen, or different perceptions of personal space, etc. During the twentieth century, world economies, especially in Europe after World War II kept growing together more and more. Especially Germany and France have a long history not only with very important political relationships but also business relationships, for example with franco-german companies like EADS or Airbus. And although those countries are direct neighbors, there are still many differences in their respective cultures. This work will have a look into the cultures of French and German, and what conflicts could arise in business communication, with the help of the studies done by Edward T. Hall and Geert Hofstede. 2.
The Theory of Edward T. Hall
One of those abovementioned researchers was the American anthropologist Edward T. Hall (1914-2009). Mr Hall lived among the Native American people of the Navajo and also in different countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He published several books on intercultural communication in which he provides five keys to successful intercultural communication. The five keys are Time, Context, Space, Information Flow and Interfacing and shall be described on the example of Germany and France.
a. Time: Polychronic versus Monochronic
According to Mr. Hall’s research there exist two different perceptions of time in cultures. There are polychronic and monochronic cultures.
In monochronic cultures, time is perceived as linear – comparable to a road extending from the past into the future. Monochronic time means paying attention to and doing only one thing at a time. Monochronic cultures perceive time as almost tangible, as they talk about it as something that can be lost, spent or saved. People from monochronic cultures don’t like to be interrupted and prefer to work in closed and quiet offices and are committed to their job. This seals people off from each other, which, as a result, shortens most of their relationships and allows intensifying only few. When referring to the concept of monochronic cultures, Mr. Hall also states that interpersonal relationships are subordinate to the present schedule. Also, the work time is clearly separable from one’s personal time.
On the other hand, there are the polychronic...
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