US tycoon and French minister exchange their national stereotypes.

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Cultures clashed when US-American industrialist Maurice Taylor, chief executive of tire producer Titan, travelled to France for a possible take-over of a plant in Amiens. Compliments for the beauty of French women did not help. His bashing of the French work-culture infuriated the country. Henry Samuel from the British “Telegraph” gives an objective account of the events and Miles Moore from “tirebusiness” details the context.
 
Press and public of France felt insulted when Maurice Taylor complained in a private letter to French Industry Minister, Arnaud Montebourg, about the ethic of French Workers: “They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three”. These words were the moderate part of a letter later bashing “crazy” unions and “so-called” workers. The letter was leaked and the minister answered the “extremist” and “insulting” words publicly. In his answer he stressed the size and technological leadership of French competitor Michelin, promised a close look at Titan’s products in France and reminded Americans of Lafayette’s merits toward the United States. Taylor responded quickly to extend his criticism to the French political class, which he saw as “out of touch with realities”. Unfortunately, “extremists” in the government have “no idea how to build a business” and also forgot how the US helped France by landing at Normandy during World War II.
 
The event is a good example of a situation in which supposed cultural issues become an instrument of two big egos clashing. Both were angry, Minister Montebourg about the tone, and chief executive Taylor about the leakage of his letter. Factually, many French would admit a grain of truth in Taylor’s words and many Americans that a letter with such wording should not have been sent. In the end, sharing in the fun of watching big boys fight and argue as if at the kitchen table may even have improved the relations between both peoples.