American and European Business

American and European Business

A number of differences can be observed in the American and European approaches to business and social interactions. Generally, as Hill and Dulek (1993) have pointed out, American businesspeople have tended to assume that there are few differences between American and European business etiquette and social structures. However, though Americans and Europeans are metaphorically and culturally near relatives, Americans must adjust and adapt their behavior to subtle differences if they hope to attain success in the European business environment.

Where Americans tend to be somewhat casual in their business and social interactions, Europeans tend to be more formal and more focused on etiquette, hierarchy, and protocol (Hill & Dulek, 1993).

Rouzies and Macquin (2003) distinguished between American and European social structure by noting that Americans tend to be less generally respectful of class or status differences than most Europeans. Consequently, Americans doing business in Europe often fail to recognize that European chains of command are more hierarchal and rigid than those customarily encountered in the United States. Further, Americans tend to be more comfortable with uncertainty and low power distance than are most (but not all) Europeans. Americans also tend, on the average, to be less cognizant of culture and nationality than are Europeans.

Hill and Dulek (1993) have stated that Europeans love the past and are deeply attached to their own history and tradition – far more so than Americans, who should be receptive to European history and culture. Europeans tend to retain class systems that are more rigid than those found in America. Many European class systems are based on hereditary criteria and family pedigree and social mobility is generally achieved through educational advancement. The American social class system in contrast is far more fluid. In terms of doing business in

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