How do you deal with a different hierarchy?
In France, the hierarchy is still present in society. It begins at primary school where young children learn to talk to their teachers respectfully, but sometimes have permission to call them by their first name.
In Scandinavia, the young kids almost always call their teachers by their first name and do not utilise any other form.
Then the hierarchy present in the French education system continues. The preparatory classes at the French ‘Grandes écoles’, where conversely the University is often the only way to be educated in Scandinavia. More-over in Scandinavia education is free, accessible to all, whatever their means and origins. Today major efforts are made to democratise schools and open access especially to young people from the French suburbs.
The French companies propose a more vertical hierarchy versus a flatter hierarchy in Scandinavia. Denmark is the country in the world which proposes the flattest system, cf. Geert Hofstede *.
So if a French wants to immigrate successfully for ex. in Sweden, he should be accompanied by cultural advices beforehand to achieve success. On the other hand, if a Danish manager wants to lead a French team and begins to talk very openly to the members of his team without first verifying that these people are accustomed to it, this might be a disaster for his management. New cultural habits are not being built in a few months.
* Geert Hofstede’s study shows that on a scale of 1 to 100, (100 being the highest), Denmark scores 12, while France scores 69, in terms of the hierarchy’s presence in the society.