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Pew poll reveals Americans more chauvinistic than the French

November 18th, 2011 No comments

NB: This post is not intended to spark cultural tensions but give cultural insight. Of course, surveys are not perfect measurements, but they can provide perspective. I’m just sharing an interesting article here for cultural awareness, not to criticize the US or France.

The French have a reputation for being quite chauvinistic, but my time living here has showed me that they are not any more arrogant than my fellow Americans. In fact, the recent Pew Research Center survey, called the “The American-Western European Values Gap”, reveals quite the contrary.

Responding to the statement “Our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others”, only 27% of French think French culture is better than all others. For the US, that number was 49%.

What could this say about Americans? I think overall we are less informed about world events and different cultures than European nations, and it shows in the numbers. So I believe this attitude is based on lack of experience abroad and lack of cultural perspective. That’s just my opinion though, not Pew’s conclusions. What do you think?

Another interesting statistic is that in foreign affairs, there is more isolationism in the US than in France:

52% of Americans polled said the US “should deal with its own problems”, 39% said the US “should help other countries”.

For the French, these numbers were 57% and 43%, respectively.

More from The Local website below, with a link to the survey here.

Poll finds French not so chauvinistic after all
Published: 18 Nov 2011 10:15 GMT+1

France’s reputation for chauvinism took a hit on Thursday from an opinion poll that revealed that only 27 percent of its people think French culture is better than all others.

In fact, 73 percent of French respondents to the ongoing Pew Research Center survey of US and European attitudes disagreed that “our culture is superior to others,” the polling institute reported.

Forty-nine percent of Americans believed US culture was the best, even if “our people are not perfect,” followed by Germans at 47 percent, Spaniards at 44 percent and Britons at 32 percent.

But, when set against past surveys, it appears “Americans are now far less likely to say that their culture is better than others; six-in-ten Americans held this belief in 2002 and 55 percent did so in 2007,” the pollsters said.

“Belief in cultural superiority has declined among Americans across age, gender and education groups.”

Americans were most likely to consider freedom to pursue life’s goals is most important (58 percent), while Germans were most likely to view success in life as being determined “by forces outside our control” (72 percent).

Pew based its findings from random telephone interviews in March and April with about 1,000 respondents in each country (Britain, France, Germany, Spain and the United States) with 3.5-4.5 percent margins of error.

The entire survey appears on its website, www.pewglobal.org.

AFP (fr) (news@thelocal.fr)

Parlez-vous MBA? A look at languages in MBA programs

October 26th, 2011 No comments

The Economist has a long-running column “Which MBA?” and a recent post talks about something with which you are all likely well acquainted: the role of foreign languages in education. The article features two French schools: INSEAD and Grenoble School of Management.

Do you think that learning foreign languages is an important factor in deciding an MBA program?

Parlez-vous MBA?
Oct 18th 2011, 16:32 by S.H.

SPEAKING three languages wasn’t enough for Lenka Menden. When it came to choosing where to study for an MBA, she wanted a chance to absorb a new culture and learn yet another tongue. “My first language is Czech, I studied for a degree in business administration in Germany and I went on to take an MSc in Prague,” she explains. “I then worked for three-and-a-half years as an analyst at Morgan Stanley in Canary Wharf.”

Ms Menden turned down the chance of studying at London Business School, instead choosing IESE in Barcelona, because she thought it would open new doors. “Staying in London I would have been in the same environment and there wouldn’t be that many challenges. So I learned a new language alongside my MBA because Spanish is a very important language of business. I have extended my personal network to include people from Mexico, Spain and the Philippines. I can now work anywhere in Europe or in an emerging economy,” she says.

High-profile business schools still teach primarily in English. But many, especially in Europe, are beginning to realise that language tuition is a big selling point. The attraction of learning a language is two-fold. With so many alumni on the market, bi-lingualism distinguishes the exceptional MBA from the run of the mill. And in a global business, the ability to speak languages and understand cultures is vital.

INSEAD, which has campuses in France and Singapore, has a three-language requirement. Students joining its MBA programme must be fluent in English and proficient in at least one other. A third language of a student’s own choice is taught alongside the MBA. Facility in that language is a condition of being awarded an MBA. “It’s about developing a cultural sensitivity and is a way of becoming a global citizen,” says Leila Murat, the school’s assistant director of MBA admissions.

Chinese whispers
Mandarin is popular on both campuses. A quarter of students are of Asian origin and many Westerners come to the business school specifically to gain insight into doing business in China. Other emerging markets are shaping interest too: Portuguese and Russian are also becoming more popular, says Ms Murat.

Despite Anglophones’ reputation for lazyness in this area, such stringent language requirements don’t seem to be putting off English-speaking students. INSEAD has seen applications from America more than double in the past five years. Nevertheless, there are drawbacks. For one, teaching languages is expensive. The most effective method is face-to-face. That means recruiting native speakers.

But how easy is it to find a native Chinese speaker in a provincial city? At Grenoble Graduate School of Business in France, they can call on the university’s renowned languages department. But responding to students’ demands is not always easy. Japanese teachers are particularly hard to source, says Carol Gally, the school’s language co-ordinator. She says she often has to rely on the partners of people employed on the campus coming forward to teach.

Grenoble’s students are given 72 hours of language tuition over two semesters, with classes running into the early evening after the MBA teaching finishes. Compulsory French classes expose students to everyday situations, official documents and radio and television. Beginners start with the basics, such as how to shop, eat and drink. Other languages are then taught in the medium of French.

At IESE, learning Spanish is a big attraction for international students such as Ms Menden. Although the MBA is taught in English, some second-year modules are in Spanish. The school’s aim is to graduate students fluent in both languages. Ninety per cent of students pass the Spanish element and qualify for what is known as a bi-lingual MBA.

Students are advised to come to Barcelona to attend a summer language school before joining the programme. This makes them more employable, according to Javier Munoz, IESE’s admissions officer. The internships arranged through the business school demand fluency in Spanish; without considerable language skills the offers from Spanish banks, engineering firms and car manufacturers would not be forthcoming. Given the current economic situation in the country, they need all the advantages they can get.

Abercrombie & Fitch on Champs-Elysées May 19, France & globalization

April 29th, 2011 1 comment

This article by The Economist (which you all know by now is a preferred publication), talks about what Abercrombie’s arrival in France means for the country being even more globalized and the controversy that globalization often sparks in France.

I completely agree with the last paragraph, cited below (and in bold), based on my experience in France. Many French love criticizing globalization but they also regularly consume global brands. Why is that? Is France anti-globalization or a fully globalized economy? In my opinion, it’s between both. You have world-renown French brands and increasingly global minded young graduates as well as wide adoption of Twitter, Facebook and other digital media, as described in detail by another Economist article.

But you also sometimes have protest and resistance against the arrivals of foreign chains. I certainly respect the right of small shop owners to operate and enjoy French culture, but the country will have to be even more open to the forces of globalization in order to be even more successful in the world economy.

France is indeed “a riddle in a mystery inside an enigma”. But I’m enjoying the ride.

Your thoughts?

France and globalisation
We’ll always have Paris
What the new Champs-Elysées says about France
Apr 28th 2011 | PARIS | from the print edition

A GIANT naked male torso towers over the lower end of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Or, rather, a black-and-white photograph of a male model’s glistening muscles is draped across the four-storey façade of a soon-to-open Abercrombie & Fitch store. The unveiling next month of the first French outlet for the American retailer, renowned for improbably toned, half-dressed sales assistants and hooded sweatshirts, will delight teenagers, bemuse parents—and confirm that France’s best-known avenue has gone global.

When the first majestic lines of trees were planted in the 17th century by André Le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s landscape architect, the Champs-Elysées was a shady walk. It has long since been built up and turned over to shops, cafés and offices. But the avenue still has special meaning, both as an embodiment of French elegance and as a stage for displays of national pride and military might. Unlike London’s Bond Street or New York’s Fifth Avenue, the Champs-Elysées is where soldiers march, tanks roll and planes fly past in the annual Bastille Day parade every July 14th.

These days, though, it is getting hard to find much that is French on the Champs-Elysées, besides a few cinemas, car showrooms and luxury brands. International chains such as H&M (Swedish) and Tommy Hilfiger (American) have opened big stores, joining other foreign implants like Zara (Spanish), Virgin Megastore (British), Disney, McDonald’s and Gap (all American). Even Britain’s Marks & Spencer, which quit Paris a decade ago, is coming back soon, bravely hoping to sell women’s clothes and English sandwiches on the Champs-Elysées.

Plenty of Parisians are dismayed. Earlier this year, owing to soaring rents that make the Champs-Elysées the world’s fourth most expensive shopping street, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, a property firm, the post office closed its doors. “It will no longer be anything but a clothing street,” sniffed Lyne Cohen-Solal, a Paris councillor. A few years ago the town hall unsuccessfully appealed to the courts to block H&M’s arrival. “The Champs-Elysées is mythical,” declared François Lebel, mayor of the local borough. “The image of France is at stake.”

Like their politicians, the French always sound defiantly anti-globalisation. In polls they are far more hostile to free markets than Germans, Chinese or Russians. Yet when it comes to buying or eating foreign stuff, they are as enthusiastic. France is one of the most profitable markets for McDonald’s. Judging by the dress code of French teenagers, there will be long queues outside Abercrombie & Fitch—though whether to buy the hooded tops or to eye up the sales staff may be another question.

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