The authors of a new report that looked at how France survived the financial crisis have discovered what they called “The French Paradox” – the fact that France performed best where it was least expected to do so.
The study found, after comparing 28 international competitive rankings, that France did best when it came to its dynamic companies, a strong capacity for innovation, and an impressive quality of research facilities – rather than just the good quality of life which is normally the reason it finishes high in league tables.
The study noted that France finished second on the Forbes 2015 list of the top 100 most innovative companies, boasting eight companies overall – only beaten by the US (with 39 of the top 100).
It also noted that in the 2014 Financial Times guide to the best MBA options in Europe, France performed second best overall, offering 19 top universities. It was only beaten by the UK, which had 20, and finished streets ahead of Germany in third place with six.
Elsewhere, France finished fourth (out of 140 countries) when the World Economic Forum ranked the quality of its roads and internet connection.
The study set out to offer an overall look at France since 2008 and how it recovered from the financial crisis.
France's start-up scene was also a key reason for success, noted Pascal Raidron, the president of Eight Advisory, the financial consultancy behind the report.
“This is a message of optimism and beacon of hope as long as we can find out how to manage this attractiveness and recognize the major roles of our entrepreneurs when it comes to creating wealth and the brand of our country,” Raidron wrote.
France's start-up scene has been turning heads recently, with the boss of American tech giant Cisco Systems John Chambers saying last week that France “was the next Silicon Valley“.
He didn’t stop there.
“France is the future. Germany and the United Kingdom, all these countries are following in France’s footsteps.
And he may be on to something. French car-share service BlaBlaCar revealed last month that it was valued at $1.6 billion, enough to earn it the grand status of being France's first start-up “unicorn”.
While Monday's study also highlighted other aspects of the French system, such as its ability to train managers and researchers, there remained room for improvement when it came to economic freedom where it ranked 73rd, government debt (129th), and its staggering debt to GDP ratio of 97 percent.
(The co-founders of BlaBlaCar. Photo: AFP)