<img style="float: right;" src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2002-09_11\/zerinque_lunch.jpg" hspace="4" vspace="4" \/>\r\n\r\nIn any number of industries in the United States, there is a growing trend towards "co-opetition"-that rare and stratified arena where two companies who would otherwise be in competition with one another find strength by joining efforts to pursue common goals.\r\n\r\nMany business experts attribute the emergence of this new business structure to the costly acquisitions and mergers of the\r\n1990s that failed to achieve promised profitability or increase shareholder value without considerable restructuring.\r\n\r\nEmergent technologies have increased global interaction, making\r\nit viable for US companies to enter into cooperative agreements\r\nwith companies headquartered far across the Atlantic, Pacific or\r\nIndian oceans, enabling them to expand their markets and reach\r\ntarget consumers without launching new products. In our own\r\nindustry, we have watched a number of acquisitions change the\r\nroster on the scorecard so much that you no longer need just a\r\nprogram, but an instant messaging system to tell you "who's who."\r\nGiven such a trend, is it possible that the US orthotics and\r\nprosthetics industry will be isolated from global integration? Or\r\nwill the emergence of super manufacturers force allegiances of\r\nsmaller companies around the globe to stave off competitive\r\nforces?\r\n\r\nIn either of these scenarios, you may find yourself in the midst\r\nof meetings with individuals from another firm based in another\r\ncountry. So what are the "do's and don'ts" of cross-culture\r\nmeetings and working environments when cooperation and mutual\r\nbenefit are the primary objectives?\r\n\r\nGeneralizations about national behaviors run the obvious risk of\r\nstereotyping, but a working knowledge of basic cultural\r\ntraits-ours as well as others'-can minimize surprises,\r\nprovide advance insight, and improve interactions. For example, the\r\nFrench and American approaches to business have vast differences.\r\nFirst and foremost, the fundamental thought processes of the two\r\ngroups are totally divergent. The French see truth as\r\nunequivocal-something to be discovered by deductive\r\nreasoning. If one side is right, the other is wrong. This approach\r\nis based on the teaching of Ren\u00e9 Descartes and is deeply\r\ningrained in the French educational system.\r\n\r\nConversely, Americans tend to be inductive thinkers, following\r\nthe English tradition of empiricism. Truth is found in the\r\nobservation and understanding of empirical evidence. The typical\r\nAmerican approach is to present data, offer a conclusion, and\r\nexpect a decision, while the French will "back way up," look at the\r\nbig picture, and engage in extensive reasoning to arrive at truth.\r\nThe American desire to get on with the "what" of things runs\r\ncounter to the French need to first understand the "why."\r\n\r\nAmericans tend to get to the point. We show the data, draw\r\nconclusions, and make recommendations for "next steps." The French\r\nwill present the big picture first, skillfully move through a\r\nseries of "therefores" until every detail is covered, and then\r\npresent a logical conclusion.\r\n\r\nAs a result of their different views in this and other areas,\r\nthe two nationalities can develop some unflattering stereotypes of\r\neach other. The French are formal, reserved, discreet, precise,\r\ntechnical, and quality-conscious. Americans appear to the French to\r\nbe brash, informal, casual, loud, too talkative, and\r\nquantity-conscious.\r\n\r\nHowever, situations involving such cultural differences are not\r\ninsurmountable. Aware and open individuals who want a positive\r\noutcome can effect the desired result.