Euro Disney Intercultural Management
Disney Corporation faced lots of problems when launching Euro Disneyland in Paris. Most of them were caused by poor research of the European market, European people’s traits and habits. Question 1: What could have been the reason why guests were spending less and leaving sooner? Disney Corporation expected that people will spend a lot of time and money in Euro Disney Park, however in reality they leave sooner and spend less money than was expected, and it causes big losses.
The main reason of it can be explained by Geert Hofstede?s dimension about time-orientation which is very similar to Fons Trompenaar?s time-orientation dimension. As USA is considered to be short-term-oriented country, while European countries are long-term-oriented people spend money differently. Europeans are likely to save money, save it for the future, not to spend big sums of money in short period, but US citizens can often spend a lot easily, and they are not likely to save money. Additionally, Americans did not count with the importance of culture for the average European citizen.
When visiting Paris, thousand years of history surrounds you. To the American, whose country is only a few hundred years old, the perception of spending your holiday does not likely include sightseeing. But when a European visits Paris, they will surely spend part of their holiday to discover one of the most famous and historical cities in Europe. Evidently they will spend less time in Disneyland, there is much else to see. Question 2: When reading the description of some of the critical aspects, what could have been the major problems and how could they be solved?
From the beginning Disney Corporation applied universalistic approach. As Disney’s community relation manager said: “we knew it would work because it had worked everywhere else”. They wanted that everything in this new Disney Park in Paris was as it is in USA because they already had experience of applying the same method in Japan. And in Japan it was successful; however it didn’t work in Europe. Probably, it was not a good idea for European Disneyland, since French and all Europeans are different from U. S. people by mentality; they have other habits, which effect European customers’ behavior.
To solve this problem Fons Trompenaar’s dimension about universalistic and particularistic approach can be used. As it was necessary from Disney Corporation to apply particularistic approach instead of universalistic, so they could make research before launching the park. Disney Corporation made all the same settings as they open new Disneyland in U. S. , so French citizens considered it as Americans’ desire to create a piece of USA on their land. In order not to have this problem Disney Corporation could know just one most wide-spread stereotype about France that French are proud people.
They are a nation that works hard to preserve their culture. Tourists often complain that they don’t speak English with them even if they know the language. They actively discourage the Anglicization of the French language, the primary objective of L’Academie francaise is to preserve the language. So it was obvious that French people will not welcome freely Americanization of their holidays on their land. If Disney Corporation just showed respect and add a bit of French traditional, cultural features, then French people would not perceive Disney as threat.
Moreover, it could attract more customers exactly to Paris Euro Disneyland, as they can find here some special things which they were not able to find in other Disneyland. One more major reason of Disney Corporation failure in France can be explained by Fons Trompenaar’s Nature Orientation dimension. As U. S. A. is rather internal country the corporation could believe that everything depends on them, they thought they could force Europeans to spend money. It can be prove by Disney’s community relations manager: “We are so good, nothing can stop us”.
Disney Corporation staff believed that if they create proper conditions, if they find, train good personnel – European customers will increase their expenditures and will stay late in the park. However, there are things which were not under Corporation control, for example, habit of Europeans to economize money is stronger than desire to spend more money in short-period. There is only one way to solve these kinds of problems, just to pay attention to them, be careful to consumers’ behavior, to be really customer-driven company.
Question 3: What assumptions did Disney make about the French and Europeans (as guests and consumers)? How might Disney have had a more favorable initial experience in France? The Disney Corporation assumed that all Europeans, as a “civilized West” are very similar to Americans, that European customers will behave the same way as Americans. And even if they have different way of vacations, they assumed that Disney will be able to Americanize Europeans’ vacation habits, what could entertain American families would satisfy European families as well.
Disney Corporation thought that what they created in Paris is something immortal and has enough to keep families happily there for a week. But thanks to Europeans’ cultural features, it is a safe bet that what American culture could offer would not be enough for them in many aspects. A civilization so deeply affected by their thousand year culture has different expectations. In addition chicken nuggets, hot dogs and fries might be somewhat standard fair in America but in Europe food is to be enjoyed and savored and one tends to linger over a meal as opposed to eat as quickly as possible.
Disney could have had a more favorable initial experience had they have prepared some market research. They would have found that the country has very different working standards. France has a lot smaller Power Distance than that in USA, additionally they are proud people, they must have taken it really bad when everything was prescribed to the last detail and they secretly kept a close watch over their work. In order to operate such a large and prestigious theme park with thousands of employees and millions of visitors, it’s inevitable to find out the expectations by both labor and customer side.
Strategies to transfer a successful business concept from one culture to another An important lesson to be learned is to always take cultural features into consideration. It is the base of good cross-cultural relationships both inside and outside of the corporation. Our success greatly relies on our customers’ judgement and our employees’ loyalty, which depend on managing cultural differences. It can be done in several ways, but the first step is always to examine and evaluate the country’s cultural dimensions.
Then we can move on to the next step: If it suits the country of destination (=CoD), leadership and most decisions can be defined by the country of origin (=CoO) (if the CoD has high PDI and UAI, Communitarianist and Specific, Achievement oriented…), or CoO has to let local leadership make short- and medium-term decisions (low PDI, high Masculinity, Individualist and Emotional…) Same market/customer approach can be applied if the CoD’s cultural dimension indexes are about the same as the CoO’s – translation check must be done.
There is no point in changing the image if our brand is already widely known and accepted, but needs a new type of approach if the CoO’s cultural values don’t match the CoD’s values. Generally neighbour countries are likely to share the same values because they root from a mutual history. Product placement – we have to find out about the CoD’s Time Orientation and Nature Orientation in order to get a correct picture: what do our employees and customers expect of our product?
What alteration must be done to keep our employees and customers satisfied and our business profitable? The answer is simple – if the CoD has high Long-Term Orientation and Nature Orientation, then we must plan our product to be economical, nature-friendly and our company will produce lower but more sustainable profit. If it’s indexes are low, we are facing a short but rapid profit attainment, and our products “go out of fashion” quickly.