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Differences between French and Estonian business cultures




As someone who has worked in both French and Estonian business environments, I have noticed some distinct cultural differences between the two. In this blog post, I will highlight some of the key differences that I have observed between French and Estonian business cultures. Hopefully, this will give insights to those who are looking to do business in either country.



1. The French tend to be more formal in their business dealings than the Estonians

2. The Estonians are more likely to take risks in their businesses than the French

3. The French place a higher emphasis on education and experience than the Estonians

4. The Estonians are more likely to use technology in their businesses than the French

5. The French are more likely to have a hierarchical structure in their businesses than the Estonians


The French tend to be more formal in their business dealings than the Estonians


Compared to Estonians, the French take a much more formal approach when conducting business. This is particularly evident in their communication style – the use of titles and polite language is favored over casual language or nicknames, and handshakes are seen as compulsory upon meeting someone new. Furthermore, the French are more likely to deliberate on a decision before they make it; they may be slower in closing deals but will undertake due diligence to ensure that all aspects are considered carefully. Thus, while their etiquette might appear more time-consuming initially, these practices can help save confusion and hassle further down the line.



The Estonians are more likely to take risks in their businesses than the French


It's often said that those who take risks have a chance to reap the greatest rewards, and this certainly appears to be true of investment in the business world. One example of this is when comparing two nations with distinct economic cultures: Estonia and France. The Estonians are known for their willingness to throw themselves into entrepreneurial ventures, taking risks that potentially many others might find too daunting. It’s not by chance that Estonia has the most numbers of unicorns (companies valued at a billion euros or more) per habitant in the EU. This culture is likely due to the country's strong focus on technological development, creating an innovative environment that encourages risk-taking. On the other hand, French companies tend to remain more conservative, avoiding large risks to protect their profits. While both strategies may prove useful depending on the circumstances, it appears that the Estonians may have a slightly upper edge in competition due to their willingness to embrace risk-taking behaviors.



The French place a higher emphasis on education and experience than the Estonians


Education is an investment of a lifetime for most, and can greatly shape the future of our children. Every nation puts some amount of emphasis on education to varying degrees, but few places have as high of a priority as the French. They believe that education is the single most important factor in determining success or failure, placing this above any experience or skill one may have. This stands in stark contrast to their Estonian counterparts who tend to place more emphasis on practical experience rather than formal qualifications when it comes to career opportunities. As with any approach, both countries can learn from each other and improve upon elements from each other's systems. From France, Estonia could form a relaxed policy towards qualifications and allow for greater career diversity. Likewise, the French could take some lessons from the Baltic state by encouraging more real-world experience within its educational system.



The Estonians are more likely to use technology in their businesses than the French


The Estonians have embraced the power of technology more than the French in their businesses. In Estonia, you can practically do anything online: file taxes, register a business, and register a birth. This is vastly different from France where much of the bureaucracy still requires visits in person to lots of different places. The Estonians recognize the efficiency this brings and are on board with these new advances whereas some French government officials remain skeptical because of concerns over data security and even privacy. Businesses in Estonia reap the rewards as well by being able to launch products quickly while not having to worry about standing in various lines or trying to collect a seemingly endless amount of paperwork. It is no surprise that Estonians are digitally ahead when it comes to utilizing technology for business operations.



The French are more likely to have a hierarchical structure in their businesses than the Estonians


It is no secret that the French and the Estonians have different approaches when it comes to their businesses. While French businesses tend to be hierarchical in nature, with management at the top and employees beneath them, Estonian businesses are more focused on creating a collaborative atmosphere between all of their members. Of course, this distinction can lead to drastically different approaches in problem-solving and overall progress, with hierarchies providing a roadmap for structure and collaboration leading to organic innovation. By understanding these differences between cultural approaches to running a business, other cultures can learn lessons that could help their operations benefit from either style of management.


As a complement to this article, below is a video summary.



In conclusion, the French and Estonians have different business cultures that are based on their values and beliefs. While there are some similarities, such as the use of technology, the French and Estonians tend to approach business in very different ways. If you are doing business with either country, it is important to be aware of these cultural differences and adapt your behavior accordingly.


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