Executive Search

An Executive Search Firm’s Perspective on Navigating the Business Dynamics Between France and the US

The relationship between France and the United States has deep historical roots, as well as multifaceted dynamics that extend to various aspects of commerce. This includes the recruitment of executives for the US subsidiaries of French companies.

France ranks among the top foreign sources of employment in the United States. French companies have a significant presence in the US market, leading to the creation of positions across various industries. French multinational corporations have established subsidiaries, offices, and production facilities in the United States, contributing to employment opportunities for American executives.


Source: https://franceintheus.org/IMG/pdf/2022_Economic_Report.pdf

These French companies span sectors such as technology, automotive, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, finance, and more. Some well-known French companies operating in the US include Airbus, L’Oréal, Michelin, BNP Paribas, TotalEnergies, Valeo, and Danone, among others. These companies engage in various activities, including manufacturing, research and development, sales, and services, all of which contribute to job creation and economic growth in the United States. There are many mid-size French companies that we also work with at DSML for their executive search recruitment needs in cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. These clients are often innovative leaders in their niche markets with subsidiaries in the US, including manufacturing sites.

They all face challenges when it comes to recruiting executives in the US as they have to balance different aspects, often linked to cultural differences and very different business environments.

4 Key Areas of Difference Between Business in the US vs. France

There are four major differences between the business dynamics of the US and France that could impact executive search recruitment when recruiting for French subsidiaries in the US.

  1. Cultural alignment and leadership styles
  2. Marketplace and employment practices
  3. Market expansions and innovations
  4. Talent attraction and retention

an-executive-search-firms-perspective-on-navigating-the-business-dynamics-between-france-and-the-us-leadership-stylesCultural Alignment and Leadership Styles

The cultural nuances that distinguish France and the US inevitably shape business leadership styles and expectations. French companies often emphasize tradition, precision, and a strong hierarchical structure, while American businesses promote adaptability, innovation, and a more egalitarian approach. To go further, French business culture tends to be more formal and includes longer meetings where it is normal to voice disagreements. Management feedback is usually direct and emphasizes what needs to be improved. American business culture emphasizes work-life balance, a more casual work environment where conflict is avoided but Management feedback is not as direct as the rest of the communication.

When recruiting executives for US subsidiaries of French companies, it’s crucial to identify individuals who can navigate and bridge these cultural differences effectively. Executives who can blend French and American business cultures — understanding when to apply a hierarchical approach and when to encourage a more collaborative and open environment — are vital to the success of subsidiary operations.

Marketplace and Employment Practices

Navigating the cross-cultural regulatory environment, while keeping in mind the specific aspects of the various US markets, is another critical factor to consider when recruiting executives for the US subsidiaries. The sheer size of the United States comes with regional and state nuances that French executives need to be aware of. The upper management in France needs to get familiar with the legal frameworks, taxation systems, and employment policies and practices in the US, as there are significant differences.

This includes having a cross-cultural knowledge of:

Executives hired by French companies expanding to the US must possess a robust skill set. They must encompass international business acumen and cross-cultural communication skills, and they will need strong support from legal experts to steer their subsidiaries through the intricacies of regulatory compliance. These individuals must be able to anticipate challenges, identify opportunities, and implement strategies that align with the overarching goals of the parent company.

Market Expansions and Innovations

Many French companies view their US subsidiaries as gateways to market expansion. Executives recruited for these roles must not only be adept at managing existing operations but also be visionary leaders who can drive growth and explore new business opportunities.

According to the France in the US economic report, French employers are:

  • The third-largest foreign employers in 24 US states
  • Creating 40,000 jobs thanks to 5,300 French companies operating in the US
  • Responsible for $4.4 billion in R&D investments within the US

Recruiting executives who can identify uncharted markets, leverage local resources, and tap into the innovative potential of the US can lead transformative projects for their subsidiary and its parent company. These leaders must strike a balance between preserving the company’s core values and embracing the agility and innovation demanded by the US market.

Talent Attraction and Retention

Competition for top executive talent is fierce in both the US and France. According to the French-American embassy, the positive relationship between the two countries has created more than 100,000 new jobs in the past year alone.

When recruiting for US subsidiaries of European companies, it’s essential to present compelling value propositions that align with the aspirations of potential candidates. This includes offering opportunities for career advancement, exposure to various markets, and the chance to contribute to the growth of a multinational enterprise. French companies must be aware of the salary and long-term incentives expectations of executives in the US and be able to invest to attract the right talent to their US operations.

US candidates expect a supportive work environment that respects cultural norms, fosters inclusion, and provides opportunities for continuous learning. Executives who feel valued and have the resources to navigate the challenges of cross-border business operations are more likely to remain committed to their roles and contribute to the long-term success of the subsidiary.

Navigating Multicultural Business Dynamics in the US with DSML

The dynamics of business between the US and France have a profound impact on the recruitment of executives for the US subsidiaries of French companies. Finding a convergence of cultural differences, regulatory landscapes, market opportunities, and talent demands creates a complex environment that demands adaptable and culturally sensitive leadership.

DSML Executive Search has helped French subsidiaries in the US navigate this complex environment for more than 15 years. With decades of cross-cultural recruitment experience, our team is equipped to search for intercultural executives within your niche and industry. By aligning the goals of the parent company with the realities of the US market, it’s possible to drive ongoing success and foster innovation within subsidiary operations.

We invite you to reach out to DSML Executive Search and learn more about our executive search firm’s processes for recruiting candidates for European subsidiaries expanding to the US. You can give us a call at +1 312 268 6166, or send us a message to speak with a member of our team.

+1 312 268 6166