Dec 30, 2016 07:46 AM EST

A Guide to Business Cultures: France, Germany, Japan, & S. Korea

Having an understanding of the different business cultures, be it in depth or only a rough knowledge, can make or break a business deal and a job interview. Compiled below is a list of information taken from articles and from psychologist Geert Hofstede's research that can be your guide to work cultures. 

France. Based on Geert Hofstede’s cultural findings, the French are self-motivated which means that they will think of themselves and their family first before others. They also take pride in what they do and expect respect for it, as well as are opinionated and unique individuals.

Work and personal life are separate aspects for them, according to Business Culture. Even religion cannot be showed publicly for security reasons.

The French also dislike uncertainty; they are not prone to making high risk decisions and want all the necessary information before going into the negotiation room. They have highly structured organizations and many rules that should be followed.

Furthermore, the French have a great deal of respect for the boss and will follow orders. If they are averse to it, however, Hofstede found that they may do and say things behind their superiors’ back.

Germany. Germans “live to work” instead of “work to live.” Like the French, they take pride in what they do, have a great sense of duty and responsibility, and importance is placed on good performance.

Germans enjoy open communication in the workplace, valuing honest and open exchanges that can lead to growth and improvement. They are also a very systematic and organized people; they rigidly follow rules, prepare everything before proceeding on a project, and dislike abrupt changes or interruptions to plans.

In addition, leadership, according to Hofstede, is based on who is best suited and qualified for the position and control is disliked. Work and personal life are also seen as two divided aspects and thus business transactions should always be formally done.

Japan. Unlike the previous two countries, the Japanese are not the kind to express brutally honest opinions but will prioritize harmony in the workplace. They will also always consider the collective consensus, approval, and opinion in order to avoid making embarrassing and shameful mistakes.

According to Just Landed, they work long hours, are driven to excellence and are very competitive, always thriving in work place competitions. They also follow hierarchical structures, wrote Hofstede, refraining from acting on projects unless it has been approved at each subsequent level of the management.

Furthermore, they also avoid the unknown and would much rather be prepared for any likely event. As such they form contingency plans and conduct feasibility studies so as to minimize risk.

South Korea. South Koreans “work to live” and not “live to work” unlike the Germans. According to Hofstede, “time is money” and they enjoy security in life, thus they work hard to be able to provide for their loved ones.

It is not just their own families that they watch out for. They also take care of their colleagues and subordinates, treating them as extended family members.

For instance, it is common in South Korea for superiors to invite subordinates to share drinks and meals together so that they can bond and get to know each other more. Subordinates cannot decline as it is seen to be ungracious and they generally respect and obey their superiors.

They also follow rules and are not very open towards unorthodox behavior. Neither do they prioritize quarterly earnings or goals but look towards the future and to meeting the needs of the next generation.

To find out more about other countries’ business cultures, visit Geert Hofstede’s website.

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