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Case Study: Euro Disneyland

Team India

1. Using Hofstedes four cultural dimensions as a point of reference, what are some of the main
cultural differences between the United States and France?

The scores for France and the United States for each of Hofstedes four cultural dimensions are
shown in the figure below:

1. Power Distance: France scores much higher than the United States on power distance
indicating that a fair degree of inequality is accepted in its society. In France, ones social
class is very important, and these classes include the aristocracy, the upper bourgeoisie,
the upper-middle bourgeoisie, the middle, the lower middle, and the lower. The American
premise of liberty and justice for all. emphasizes on equal rights in all aspects of
American society and government.

2. Uncertainty avoidance: At 86, French culture scores high on Uncertainty Avoidance

whereas the US scores below average, with a low score of 46. The French dont like
surprises. Structure and planning are required. For example, before meetings and

negotiations they like to receive all necessary information. Most French organizations
tend to be highly centralized and have rigid structures.

3. Individualism: France with a score of 71, is quite an individualist society but it is still less
individualist than the USA which has a score of 91. In the US, society is loosely-knit and
it is expected that people look after themselves and their immediate families only and
should not rely too much on authorities for support. The French combination of a high
score on Power Distance and a high score on Individualism is rather unique. Family in
France has more emotional glue than in other individualist cultures. This is a reflection of
the high score on Power Distance with its stronger respect for the elderly.

4. Masculinity: France has a score of 43 for uncertainty avoidance so it has a somewhat

feminine culture. At face value this may be indicated by its famous welfare system, the
35-hour working week, five weeks of holidays per year and its focus on the quality of
life. On the other hand, Americans typically live to work so that they can obtain
monetary rewards and as a consequence attain higher status based on how good one can
be. Many white-collar workers will move to a more fancy neighborhood after each and
every substantial promotion.

2. In what way has Trompenaarss research helped explain cultural differences between the
United States and France?

Trompenaars research is similar to Hofstede and goes into more detail that elaborates more on
universalism vs particularism, individualism vs communitarianism, neutral vs emotional, specific
vs diffuse, achievement vs ascription, and even the concept of time.

Universalism is the belief that ideas and practices can be applied everywhere without
modification. Particularism is the belief that circumstances dictate how ideas and practices
should be applied. The table shows that the USA has complete universalism, whereas France

also has universalism, but lies more in the middle of the two. This shows that both countries do
apply the same standards regardless of the situation, but France does consider the possible
circumstance of a situation and may chose not to follow a routine method for handling that

Individualism refers to people regarding themselves as an individual, and communitarianism is

the opposite. In this case, the USA scores very high in individualism, and France seen as more
communitarianism. This may or may not be completely accurate based on what type of situation
is occurring at the present. This meaning that in certain situations people would select a more
individual stance, but in other cases they choose to work collectively.

A neutral culture is one that keeps emotions in check, and an emotional culture that expresses
emotions openly. USA and France both are considered relatively emotional with only slightly
being on the neutral side. Trompenaar also emphasized that lack of emotion does not mean lack
of interest, but that neutral cultures prefer to keep emotions to themselves.

A specific culture is when individuals have larger public space, they are open to letting others
share that space, but when having a small space, they guard it closely and only let people close to
them occupy that space. A diffuse culture is when a small or large space are regarded the same,
and people are wary about who they let into their public space, because it lets them into their
private space as well. The USA and France are both on the same level of being a specific
culture, indicating that individuals are more open and extroverts, while being able to separate
work life from personal life.

An achievement culture is when people are acknowledged based on how well they will perform
in the public eye, for example giving out an award for the employee of the month. An ascription
culture shows a persons status based on who that person is, like what social connections you
have. Both France and the US are considered to be achievement cultures, with France being
slightly ascription as well.

Lastly was Trompenaars study of the concept of time viewed in different cultures. In the USA,
people tend to have set schedules ahead of time and enforce it with punctuality. In France, when
making a plan, the objective is clear, but the timing is more flexible so they can modify their
approach as they go. Therefore, values of time are greatly contrasted between these two

3. In managing its Euro Disneyland operations, what are three mistakes that the company
made? Explain.

According to the case, Euro Disneyland made three important mistakes:

1. Underestimating French opposition

All companies doing business in a foreign country must adapt their management style
and their processes to the local culture. This is particularly true in the case of Euro
Disneyland. The company faced a lot of opposition from French labor unions and other
local parties. One of the main issues was the flexibility of working hours expected by
Euro Disneyland. Considered as a prerequisite by Euro Disneyland, it was something
extremely difficult for french workers and labor unions to accept as they were not used to
the same working culture as American companies. Another cultural opposition was
Disneys Strict Appearance Code. As Fitzpatrick said, the appearance code was presented
too directly to the workers. It included directives related to privacy such as hair styles,
taking showers everyday or covering tattoos. Those directives were too strict to be
accepted easily by french workers. Many French estimate that US companies do not
respect local culture and Disneys behaviors escalated the problem.

2. Strategic mistake for the European amusement park

Euro Disneylands second mistake was their lack of adaptation to the French culture.
Since the beginning, Disneyland wanted to create an amusement park that was
determinedly American in its theme. There was an alcohol ban in the park despite the
attitude among the French that wine with a meal is a God-given right.
The company also failed to take into consideration the local language for the first ads for
work bids which written in English instead of French. As the article said, French firms
felt like foreigners in their own land. They also disregarded the French attitude towards
personal space and queues, linguistic differences, and French food etiquette.

3. Issues in top management

Many of Disneys mistakes may have been avoided if their top management strategy had
been different. It would have been a better idea to have different nationalities in top
management. Instead, 23 U.S. expatriates held most of the top jobs and they controlled
the show during the first years without enough local representation. This decision likely
contributed to the lack of adaptation to the French culture. Consequently, they did not
achieve their financial and attendance objectives.

4. Based on its experience, what are three lessons the company should have learned about how
to deal with diversity? Describe each.

1. The layout of the amusement park was designed the same way for each country, not
taking into account any cultural differences. Expectations for what a Disneyland
amusement park looks like are different amongst different countries. Disney should learn
to adapt to the country they are in and incorporate culture and customs to new parks so
that people will feel more comfortable and be more willing to attend the park.

2. The company shouldnt have been as overconfident that their opening day would be
successful. Headlines had warned of traffic issues and the possibility of being denied
entry due to an excess of cars, estimated at about 90,000. In reality, there were only
about 25,000 cars that arrived. Queues for big named rides that at other parks had wait
times of hours had wait times of only about 15 minutes at Euro Disneyland.

3. Disney held a 49% equity in Euro Disneyland with the other 51% given to stock
exchanges throughout Europe. Disney was so keen on Euro Disneyland that they kept a
49 percent stake in the project, the most that the French government would allow. This
assumption was likely made based on the profits made at Tokyo Disneyland, but by
generalizing their profits they overestimated how much revenue would actually be
brought in.