Case Study Euro DisneylandThis case study explores various issues regarding Euro Disneyland Company in France. Walt Disney, an American-based theme park, began its operations in California and later expanded to open branches in Florida and Japan. Inspired by success in these branches, the company went ahead to expand its business empire to European market, where it opened Euro Disneyland in France. However, although the company expected good performance in this market, its initial year of operation faced many challenges, most of which arose because of cultural differences between France and United States.
This case study explores cultural differences between these two countries based on Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ research on organizational culture, some of the mistakes made by the company in management of operations of Euro Disneyland and some lessons the company should have learned regarding diversity. Hofstede’s Cultural DimensionsOn his study on multi-cultures, Geert Hofstede (Dutch scientist) identified four cultural dimensions characterizing different nations around the globe, with people in every category exhibiting identical behaviors. The dimensions include “power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, and individualism” (Deschepper, 2008, p. 2). Power distance refers to the degree to which the less influential people in firms and institutions agree to existence of uneven distribution of authority.
Compared to United States, France scores high power distance index. Therefore, cultural beliefs in France include unfairness characterizes society, every individual has a place and the most influential in the society deserve privileges. In addition, France believes in centralized decision making, with a large part of supervisory personnel and people at the lower levels often have low job qualifications. On the other hand, United States believes in decentralized decision making through flatter organizational structures.
Therefore, organizations have a smaller proportion of supervisory workers and lower level workforce has high job qualifications. Uncertainty avoidance regards the degree to which individuals feel endangered by uncertain encounters and in effect, develop beliefs in an attempt to avoid them. French people practice a higher uncertainty avoidance culture than Americans. As such, French people do not tolerate ideas or practices different from their habits. On the other hand, Americans show tolerance to practices different from that they are used to (Macnab, Worthley, & Jenner, 2010, p. 35).
It is for this reason that the opening day of Euro Disney in France received lower attendance than expected. During its expansion in France, the company developed theme parks that duplicated structural features of parks in Florida and California. It did not pay much attention to incorporating features that reflected French culture, which French people believed to be very confusing. As a result, most of the invited French visitors did not attend the opening ceremony of Euro Disneyland in France. Another Hofstede’s cultural dimension regards masculinity, which distinguishes nations in terms of their overall competiveness.
He classified nations that emphasize much on material things and money as highly masculine and those that focus on care for other people as feminine or lowly masculine nations. Based on this dimension, French culture represents a feminine culture while Americans value masculinity. Rather than taking into account French feminine values, Euro Disney introduced its business in France based on American masculine values. For instance, American cultural orientation advocates for different emotional labor requirements for women and men. As such, female role occupants in American culture require frequent display of attentive positive emotion with little tolerance for expression of negative emotion.
Basing its business culture on this value, Euro Disney required employees in France to smile and be polite to park visitors. This did not go well with French people and as a result, the parks received few guests during initial days of operation (Hofstede, 2009).