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Euro Disneyland – Cultural Differences Between U.S. and France



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    Introduction As we know, Disneyland is very success in U. S. when the first Disneyland built in Anaheim, California on 17 July, 1995. After some debate about the site for a European theme park, Michael Eisner and Jacques Chirac signed a contract for the building of s Disney theme park at Marne-la-Vallee, a region of sunflower and sugar-beet farmland and small villages located twenty miles east of Paris (Janis, F. , 1998, P. 247). However, the European Disneyland was not as such success as they expected.

    This essay going to regards the main issues in opening the Euro Disneyland and compare the French cultural with American cultural by using Hofstede’s cultural Dimensions and Trompenaars ‘s cultural dimensions. This essay will then end by gives out some solutions and recommendations for how to overcome those issues. Issues: There are several issues showed in this case. Firstly, lack of understanding and appreciation of cultural differences between U. S. and French.

    For example, different cultures have different definition of personal space, and Disney guests faced problems of people getting too close or pressing around those who left too much space between themselves and the person in front (Luthans, F. and Jonathan, P. , p. 237). Moreover, Euro Disneyland was designed to mirror the American Disney theme parks back in California and Florida with very few concessions to French culture. Furthermore, Americans adopted an attitude of cultural supremacy. There is an example showed in this case, although there were only 23 U. S. xpatriates among the employees, they controlled the show and held most of the top jobs. It is also reflected in food culture. Euro Disneyland is determinedly American in this 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 (Luthans, F. and Jonathan, P. , p. 235). Another example is that even the employees unhappy with the rule in Disneyland, the Disney officials insisted that a ruling that barred them from imposing a squeaky-clean employment standard could threaten the image and long-term success of the park (Luthans, F. and Jonathan, P. p. 236). Finally, Disney placed its first ads for work bids in English, leave small-and medium-sized French firms feeling like foreigners in their own land (Luthans, F. and Jonathan, P. , p. 237). This is lack of anticipation of apposition to plans. Causes: Lack of understanding French cultural is the main reason that unsuccessful in opening French Disneyland. And “the American companies must respect the French culture’s high power distance structure, strong uncertainty avoidance, high individualism, and lower masculinity scores” (Workman, D. , 2008). Hofstede cultural dimensions ?Power Distance Index

    According to Workman, D. (2008), Hofstede’s Power Distance Index (PDI) measures the extent to which less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept unequal distribution of power. The United States has a PDI score of 40 which is 27% lower than the France scores 68 points on the PDI. Therefore, France is a high power distance countries, the organization in France will tend to be centralized and have tall organization structures, and this organization will have a large proportion of supervisory personnel, and the people at the lower levels of structure often will have low job qualifications (Tian, F. 2009, p. 91). As a result, the French were confused when Disney appointed mostly American-born managers into the front-line supervisory positions at Euro Disneyland – many of whom were not fluent in the French language (Workman, D. , 2008). ?Uncertainty avoidance index Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) is a cultural dimension that scores the degree to which people feel threatened by ambiguity. Countries with high UAI scores create beliefs and institutions that safeguard their high need for security.

    France’s UAI score is 86, higher than the America’s UAI score of 46. Therefore, the French cultural shows strong uncertainty avoidance is embody as the cultural have a great deal of structuring of organizational activities, more written rules, less risk taking by managers, lower labor turnover, and less ambitious employees (Tian, F. , 2009, p. 92). The French strongly resist changes to their traditional beliefs and institutions. By contrast, U. S. ith lower uncertainty avoidance societies have organization settings with less structuring of activities, fewer written rules, more risk taking by managers, higher labor turnover, and more ambitious employees. The organization encourages personnel to use their own initiative and assume responsibility for their actions (Tian, F. , 2009, p. 92). ?Individualism Score Moreover, Individualism is the cultural dimension that measures to what extent people to look after themselves and their immediate family members only. America’s individualism score of 91 is the highest in the world and higher than France’s score of 71.

    This kind of cultural reflect in American executives at Disney based on Walt Disney’s highly individualized, squeaky clean American family values to imposed a strict dress code at Euro Disneyland, such as required extremely short hair and banned beards and moustaches (Corliss, R. , 1992). By imposing the Walt Disney appearance code, the Americans insulted French family traditions. “Many of the highly individualistic French refused to work at Euro Disneyland, including a 28-year-old Parisian trumpet player who insisted on keeping his pony tail hairstyle rather than join the closely cropped Disney brass band” (Workman, D. 2008). ?Masculinity Score A high masculine society, such as American with score of 62 on the masculinity, places greater value on success, money and material possessions. A country with a lower masculinity score, that is France has a relative low masculinity score of 43, places more emphasis on caring for others and quality of life. An example in this case is that the Disney CEO Michael Eisner expressed America’s overriding focus on monetary success when he said “What we created in France is the biggest private investment in a foreign country by an American company ever.

    And it’s going to pay off” (cited in Workman, D. , 2008). Clearly, French culture was not a priority for Disney during the first year of Euro Disney (Corliss, R. , 1992). Trompenaars’s cultural dimensions Trompenaars derived five relationship orientations that address the ways in which people deal with each other. These can be considered to be cultural dimensions that are analogous to Hofstede’s dimensions. Trompenaars also looked at attitudes toward both time and the environment (Tian, F. , 2009, p. 97). ?U. S. – Universalism

    According to Trompenaars, the United States was high universalism that is the belief that ideas and practices can be applied everywhere without modification. Therefore the manager of Disneyland tends to transfer an American corporate model to France without any changes or adjustment. As a result of this finding, Disney should be prepared for personal meandering or irrelevancies they seem to go nowhere and should not regard personal, get-to-know-you attitudes as mere small talk (Tian, F. , 2009, p. 98). ?U. S. – Individualism

    Compare with the cultural of French, the United States with higher individualism that refers to people regarding themselves as individuals. As we discussed in Hofstede’s research, the French cultural shows high communitarianism (similar meaning as collectivism) that refers to people regarding themselves as a part of group. This finding recommends the managers from United States should have patience for the time taken to consent and to consult, and they should aim to build lasting relationship when deal with those from communitarianism cultures (Tian, F. 2009, p. 99). ?U. S. – Specific cultural A specific cultural is one in which individuals have a large public space they readily let other enter and share and a small private space they guard closely and share with only close friends and associates, such as united states, there is a strong separation of work and private life. By contrast, in diffuse cultural, people are not quickly invited into a person’s open, public space, because once they are in, there is easy into the private space as well.

    Trompenaars recommends that when those form specific cultural do business in diffuse cultural, they should respect a person’s title, age , and background connections, and they should try to get impatient when people are being indirect or circuitous (Tian, F. , 2009, p. 100). ?U. S. – Achievement cultural A n achievement cultural is one in which people are accorded status based on how well they perform their functions. Therefore achievement cultural give high statuses to high achievers and the United States are achievement cultural.

    However, the French cultural should be considered as an ascription culture that is one in which status is attributed based on who or what a person is. This result of finding recommends that when individuals from achievement cultural do business in ascription cultural, they should make sure that their group has older, senior, and formal position holders who can impress the other side, and they should respect the status and influence of their counterparts in the other group(Tian, F. , 2009, p. 101). ?Time-managing approach There are two different approaches indicated by Trompenaars: sequential and synchronous.

    In the United States, people tend to be guided by sequential-time orientation and this set a schedual and sticks to it. The French operate under more of a synchronous-time orientation, when making plans, often determine the objectives they want to accomplish but leave open the timing and other factors that are beyond their control. This way, they can adjust and modify their approach as they go along. Another interesting time-related contrast is the degree to which cultures are past-or present-orientated as opposed to future-orientated. In United States, the future is more important than the past or the present.

    In France, all three time period are of approximately equal importance. Because different emphases are given to different time periods, adjustment to their cultural difference can create challenges (Tian, F. , 2009, p. 102). Effects Lack of visitors First of all, opening was planned for early 1992, and Disney expected 11 million visitors in the first year. Even not such much, it should not be less than 7 million. However, by the lunchtime of the opening day, the Euro Disneyland car park was less than half full, suggesting an attendance of below 25,000, less than half the park’s capacity and way below expectations (Luthans, F. nd Jonathan, P. , pp. 233-237). Unhappy public The Farmers were unhappy and posted protest signs along the roadside to oppose build of Euro Disneyland. And other reason for them to resist it is because under the terms of contract, the French government sells it without profit to the Euro Disneyland development company (Luthans, F. and Jonathan, P. , p. 234). Lack of profit The stock price was expected to reach FFr 166 by opening day in 1992, this would give a compound return of 21 percent (Luthans, F. and Jonathan, P. , p. 234).

    But the end result is that in its first six months of operation to September 1992, Euro Disneyland had lost over US$34 million (Workman, D. , 2008). Unhappy employees The problem Disney faced while hiring employees is that the employees unhappy and believes the Americans as insensitive to France culture, individualism and privacy because of a handbook of detailed rules on acceptable clothing, hairstyles, and jewelry, among other things, embroiled the company in a legal and cultural dispute (Luthans, F. and Jonathan, P. , p. 236). Solutions

    Like the cultural dimensions we discussed before, the most important thing for Disney executives is to adopt the France’s cultural to meet France’s need, such as for low masculinity values like cooperation, friendly atmosphere, group decision making, more employee freedoms (Workman, D. , 2008). Conclusion In conclusion, this case is mainly demonstrated that doing business cross cultural may results several problems. The way to success in business is to understand to local cultural and the needs of the people in host country. And adapt to the host countries’ cultural then meet the people requirements.

    Reference list: Corliss, R. (1992), Voila! Time, 20 April 1992, Vol. 139, Issue 16, P. 82 Forman, J. (1995), Corporate Image and the Establishment of Euro Disney: Mickey Mouse and the French Press, Technical Communication Quarterly, 1995, pp. 247-258. Luthans, F. and Jonathan P. (2009), Euro Disneyland, International Management: Cultural, Strategy and Behavior, 7th Ed, Chapter 7, pp. 229-238. Tian, F. (2009), GSBS6483 Cross Cultural Negotiation and Management, 2009, pp. 90-102. Workman, D. (2008), Hofstede Quantifies Differences between American and French Mindsets, 8 Feb, 2008.

    Euro Disneyland – Cultural Differences Between U.S. and France. (2019, May 01). Retrieved from

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