“Knowing cultural differences is vital to any successful international business relationship,” stated Bertrand Agostini, professor at ICN, who led us through a workshop on cross cultural communication on our third day in Nancy. This workshop included a great background on the differences in the government, culture, and history of the United States and France. With over 66 million people, and the world’s sixth largest economy, France is a major player in Europe, and particularly the European Union. This class helped us to comprehend how the French see situations, and why they think and act in certain ways. Bertrand highlighted the importance of knowing a people’s culture to fully understand how to approach a business relationship with them. Heading into the future, each one of us will be prepared to facilitate a business relationship with most French companies and enhance the opportunities for economic gain, environmental protection, and social enhancements on a global level.
Starting this day, we began our cross-cultural learning experience with a trip to ICN Business School in Nancy, France. After a brief overview of the campus, we had a insightful lesson with a resident professor which focused on susustainbility in the luxury industry. One great takeaway from this workshop was the new research that is pointing towards a fourth pillar of sustainability. This pillar, along with the social, environmental, and economic pillars, focuses on culture. This was enlightening, but seemed to be obvious as well. The application of this idea that culture can have the underlying rooots of all other pillars, particularly in the luxury industry, and still can be overlooked was well defined. Businesses need to understand that their culture is the root of their business, and without ethical values and sustainable ideals, that culture will be the biggest barrier to sustainable change that the company will face. After that, we took an amazing walking tour around beautiful Nancy, which is rich in history and culture. We are all having an amazing time!
“Prepare for landing” was the last thing I heard before we touched down in our first stop on our European tour. Landing and being in Paris, France today was an exciting opportunity that I have never had before. Our stay in Paris was shortlived, as we headed out on a train bound for Nancy, France and ICN Business School. It’s only the first day of our trip, but the enthusiasm, expectations, and eagerness are at all time high. Even through the jetlag, we are all ready to start experiencing the culture, people, and looking forwad to finding out how the French people are making the positive change they want to see in the world.
Our courses at ICN Business School in Nancy brought a cross-cultural dimension to the material we have been studying so far. We had three lectures and a case study while we were at the school. The topics we discussed were management control for CSR, differences in ethics between the USA and France and cross-cultural communication. Each topic was tied back to sustainability and the differences between how each culture views the role and importance of it for business. For example, in France, companies that are not publically traded (and have sales or assets of more 100 million Euros) are expected by law to communicate social and environmental results, although there is no penalty for failing to report. It was interesting to learn about how sustainability is viewed around the world and what cultural differences impact these perceptions. Each country is influenced by past events that, at the surface, may not appear to relate directly to sustainability. For example, Americans are more willing to take risks than the French due to the colonial mindset of our founders. Also, Americans tend to be action oriented whereas the French tend to spend more time discussing than doing.