The Influence of French Higher Education in French-German Business-to-Business Relationships

Fontaine, Oliver Roger (2021) The Influence of French Higher Education in French-German Business-to-Business Relationships. DBA thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/FR51GE23

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A significant amount of literature has been written on the various aspects involved in and influencing buyer and seller relationships. In an international setting, many cultural influences in the buyer and seller interaction process have been identified and researched. In the case of France, the literature identifies a binary divide in the higher education system, with universities on one side and the Grandes Écoles (French private higher education institutes) on the other. While there is general advice for undertaking business in France, research that focuses on the influence of this education system for the international buyer and seller interaction process in a French-German context is rare. Within the spirit of the IMP Interactions Model, this study explores those cultural values whose origins can be attributed to the French higher education system and that can influence communication and the creation of trust in a binational business relationship – the Franco-German dyad. The cultural differences present in this context, their origins, and the divergences between German and French business behaviour are the phenomena on which this study offers knowledge. This study’s insight is not only based on how the phenomena present but also seeks to elucidate the roots of those values causing the phenomena, with the goal to enable German sellers to have a more successful approach to their French counterparts. This study is based on a broadly ethnographic design encompassing historical, and educational research. The work follows the holistic perspective, analysing the social interaction of business partners in their daily environment, examining things in the broadest possible context, to understand their interconnections and interdependence. This is undertaken by means of semi-structured interviews among a social group within the goods road transportation industry. Twenty-one interviews were conducted in six selected companies. In each of these companies, three to four participants of different hierarchical III positions and in different job roles related to buying have been interviewed. In addition, five interviews with German managers involved in business interactions with French customers have been undertaken to offer perspective from the German business partner. This research showed that cultural values can be related to the education system, creating behaviour patterns, preferences and expectations. Meeting and respecting these values influence communication and the formation of trust. The specific aspects that were examined could be traced back in their historical development of the respective educational systems: the vocational, generalist, and/or dualistic systems producing elites, specialists, and their effects in cross-cultural relations and interactions. The French participants of this study demonstrate that the different education systems do influence the respective French-German behaviours, cultures, and relations. The research identified and helped to understand the origin of the different business partners values’ in the binational dyad. The theoretical model developed represents the interrelation and reciprocal influence on the interaction of trust, communication and cultural values related to the education system. The analysis has shown that different philosophies on the approach to projects and the importance that is attributed to speaking the French language are specific aspects that demand cultural awareness. It could be shown that overcoming the cultural distance formed by the language barrier is even more critical for business interaction with Grandes Écoles graduates. The research offers practical recommendations and requirements for a German seller to position advantageously, control and manage a French-German binational business relationship successfully.

Item Type: Thesis (DBA)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: French-German Business-to-Business relationships; Cultural values; Higher education systems; French language speakers
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5410 Marketing
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5717 Business communication
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2022 11:43
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2022 14:29

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