This page is one of the annex pages of, the foremost site on Franco-American intercultural differences. It contains documents, facts and figures illustrating the content of some of its pages.

Facts & figures

This page contains Facts and Figures about France and the French. Some are significant, other less so....

 Management    Information/Media
  • A test to identify a Frenchman among Americans? I discovered a critical test when I was studying Business at Columbia University. In one of the case studies, French students always give the same answer ("wrong") when American students have it always "right". Here it comes.
    You are the boss of a company of 12 employees including yourself and you build a new office. You all drive to work. You had designed 12 parking spaces but for an external major reason there can be only 11. There is one person more than the number of parking spaces. What do you do ?
    • The American answer is (more or less ) : "I summon a meeting of everybody and I introduce it by saying : "We've got a problem. What do you suggest ? " And then, I would implement any reasonable solution issued from the meeting"
    • The French answer (and it was mine) is : "I am the boss and it has nice sides : I have more money and prestige. But it has drawbacks and among them I have to make difficult and unpopular decisions because I am in charge. Therefore, I will gather all possible data about the employees (where their children go to school, what the spouse's income is, what the cost of a taxicab paid by the company would be, etc...) and, alone, I would try to build the "best solution" hurting the person who would suffer the least. Then I would summon a meeting and announce my decision and listen to the reaction of the employees.
    • I was younger and I want to say that my management skills have significantly improved with age but this is a natural reaction that many French students might still have even today.
  • In 1986, the nuclear power plant of Tchernobyl (Ukraine) exploded and a very dangerous radioactive cloud passed above Europe, as far as Iceland. Everybody was afraid and the then President, François Mitterrand, promised to keep the population informed of any potential danger. The man in charge was Professor Pierre Pellerin, head of the SCPRI (Service Central de Protection contre les Rayonnements Ionisants). France is a major nuclear country and the expertise of its nuclear specialists is at the top of world level. The conclusion of Pr. Pellerin was very clear, with diagrams and maps : the cloud was indeed heading for France (and serious damages were established in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, etc...) but at the last minute it had turned North and avoided the country. The President supported this conclusion with strong authority and although nobody believed that a Russia cloud could have been that nice, nobody dared to refute this official truth. The press did nothing, no legal claims arose, ... Twenty years later, it was finally established that the official data and maps had been shamefully fixed, that of course the cloud flew over France and several hundred cases of thyroid cancer prove it. Pr.Pellerin was indicted for "tromperie aggravée" and pleaded the huge political pressure he suffered. The official position still is : there was nothing to do anyway, so why panic people. The case is still pending (Nov.2007)
  • Working on Sunday. (Source : IFOP poll, JDD 9/12/2007)
    - The current situation : for some sectors, working on Sundays is normal and employees do not get any additional salary (for instance : hotels, restaurants, food shops, agriculture, hospitals, public transport and a few others). In industry, Sunday shifts are paid extra from 50% minimum to 100%.
    - For all other sectors, it is prohibited to work on Sundays and it must be specifically authorized by the Prefect for " exceptional cause " (for instance : Christmas season or touristic area). In this case, employees must receive a double salary (by law).
    - According to the poll, the French are not ready for a change : " you personally, are you ready to work on Sunday ? " : NO :53%, " would you refuse to work on Sunday and make more money so you can enjoy your week end ? " : YES :59%. More about it.

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The financing of political parties in France 2008

(Source : Commission Nationale des Comptes de Campagne et des Financements politiques, in Le Monde 22/12/2009)

in m Euros Dues elected members Donations State Other
Parti Socialiste 12,4 13,2 1,7 22,7 9,2
UMP 5,4 1,7 7,4 34,5 3,1
Parti Communiste 3,1 15,9 4,5 3,7 4,4
Centre (Modem) 0,9 0,1 0,2 4,1 0,3
Verts 0,8 1,5 0,2 1,8 0,8
Front National 0,5 0,6 0,1 1,8 0,8
Lutte Ouvrière 1,0 0,1 1,1 0,4 1,1
Ligue Communiste 0,9 0,0 0,1 0,9 0,8
Parti Radical 0,2 0,1 0,1 1,1 0,6
Mouvement pour la France 0,3 0,0 0,2 0,9 0,3
Nouveau Centre 0,1 0,0 0,0 0,0 1,3
TOTAL 25,7 33,2 15,8 71,7 24,8

More about money and politics

How do US and French managers see each other?

In Lacorne's book (about anti-americanism in France), R.Armand imagines a funny dialog between a French manager and an American manager. Here it goes

When the French manager thinks ....

...the American manager thinks
I am You are I am You are
cultured specialized professional amateurish
creative simplistic a practical mind an improviser
individualist rigid with team spirit undisciplined
subtle brutal dynamic undecided
an old fox a big baby an eagle a frog
a real Frenchman an ugly American a true American typically French
Corruption : compared figures

(Source : 2006 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index). According to T.I. a country is considered corrupt if the index is below 5. The numbers given include the 27 European countries and a sample of 27 other significant countries (including the European countries not members of the E.U.) among a total of 163 for which the index is calculated every year. The world ranking is also given.







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Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books :

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001
  • "French Toast - Heureuse comme une Américaine en France", Ramsay, Paris 2005

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