Case Study: Disney’s Cultural Lessons From Tokyo and Paris

Disney is a worldwide famous cartoon company that was set up by Walter Disney in 1923 in the United States. It has built up the first theme park in California in 1953, which named “Dream World”, it was a big success for the company. Then in Florida, Paris, Tokyo, Hongkong and other places, Disney theme parks have been set up and welcomed by both the young and the adult. So far, it has about 60-year experience of operating multi-nationally. Although Disneyland is not the pioneer of theme parks, Disney creates a lot of colorful animation and cartoon figures which appeal to a lot of people to come and enjoy their lives in the theme parks. According to this, Disney especially Disneyland acquires much more success in the commercial world, for visitors brought great wealth and spread its culture abroad to every corner of this modern world.

Successful Cross-cultural Management of Tokyo Disneyland

The successful operation of Disneyland in America has driven the managers of the corporation to extend the business overseas, and it has been a way of transmitting the American culture to the outside world. In 1982, there was an agreement signed by Disney and the Oriental real estate in Japan, permitting Disney to operate the Disneyland theme park. To adapt to the concrete situations in Japan, all the guide and street board in the park

The success of Disney was printed in Japanese, meanwhile, it has adjusted the layout of the park in accordance to the street of Japan, for instance, “Disney castle mystery tour” has been dyed the localized color according to the popular story of “Haunted house” in Japan at that time. The most obvious adjustment was the favor of the food, the park has not only opened a restaurant to satisfy the appetite of the local people but the picnic was permitted as well. Then, the Tokyo Disney land has become one of the most attractive parks in Japan that have been inducing a large number of visitors. However, the Japanese culture is the typical oriental culture, and it is divergent to that of the United States, why Disney company could achieve such success in Japan? Firstly, Japanese culture recognized and accepted American culture after WWII. Most Japanese people were fond of American culture that could be represented by Disney land, under this circumstance, the acceptance of American culture by the Japanese people is understandable and well-reasoned. Secondly, Japanese culture advocates collectivism. The collective activities in Disney land were just what Japanese people pursuit, which has intangibly promoted consumption, bringing about tremendous profits. Thirdly, Tokyo was the first place where Disney set up the theme park overseas. The alien culture has strong attractions and appeals to the Japanese market, and it was the basis upon which Disney has successfully developed its cross-cultural operation.

Failed Cross-cultural Management of Paris Disneyland

The great success of Disney land in Tokyo has promoted the construction of another theme park in Paris. This European Disney was started to grow since the beginning of the 20th century, however, it was in front of a lot of unprecedented problems, for instance, the arrivals of visitors are much less than expectations, no to mention the profits from the visitor. Some negative report on the management and the wear of Disney land has discredited to the company. By 1995, Paris Disney has lost 25 billion dollars while the reason of which lies in the lack of localization in terms of the operation strategy, improper arrangement of the human resources, and the over-optimistic anticipation of the situation. For instance, the fact that French have strong national pride and a sense of superiority, and they regarded the extension of Disney land as a cultural invasion. Consequently, they have boycotted Disney land. It could be seen that culture has a crucial role in multinational management, and being unaware of this importance, there must be some negative influence on the development of the company. Disney has realized the importance of cultural diversity and has begun to make changes after being failed in Paris. Since the beginning of the 21st century, it has been adjusting the operation strategy via transformation of the name of the park into “Disneyland Paris”, hiring the French as the general manager, and restructured the company in accordance with the French management mode, increasing the number of European workers. By 2002, Paris Disney has earned profits for the first time.

Case Analysis: Enlightenment of the Cross-cultural Management of Disney

It could be seen from the analysis and comparison of the multinational operation of Disney in Tokyo and Paris, that effective cross-cultural management is very significant in the international market. It has succeeded in forming a stove where cultures of different countries have been fused and assimilated so as to serve the operation of the corporation. The success of Disney could be categorized into four aspects.

  1. The cross-cultural operation should focus on management: An effective cross-cultural management is the core factor for the corporation to succeed in the international competition. The success of Disneyland had proved that emphasizing cultural diversity and eliminating cultural conflicts are of great value in transnational business. In the multinational business, if the enterprise lack the knowledge and skill of the cross-boundary management, the cultural conflicts may occur, including the tough personal relationship, failed communication, and misunderstanding between the manager and the worker, and so on, which would reduce the work efficiency and increase the internal loss, since the cultural diversity would directly lead to the cultural conflicts, the serious relationship between the staff, failed communications between that staff and the lower job performance and lower work efficiency. On the contrary, if the enterprise could manage well in the cross-boundary business, then, the complicated problems that are related to cultural diversity could not bring about any loss, instead, it could grant some competitive advantage to the corporation and improve the workforce of the enterprise.
  2. Emphasis on the market research of the target market: Doing the market research before entering into the target market is very important, and the market research includes the information on the politics, economy, culture, law, and the environment, and based upon which, analyzing and comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the foreign culture and the native culture, in order to find out the preference of the customer so as to satisfy them.
  3. Efficient cross-cultural management: The undertaking of efficient cross-cultural management has three procedures. The first step is to recognize cultural diversity. The management should first distinguish the difference between cultures could the effective measures be taken since most cultural conflicts have been caused by cultural diversity. Secondly, enterprises should have a sensitive nose to the cultural diversity, while this ability could be obtained by training, which could, to a large extent, increase the mutual understanding and communication in that staff could adapt to situations involved in different cultures. Last but not the least, building up the common value and culture within the corporation, which is helpful with respect to the decrease of the cultural conflicts, and it could facilitate every single worker to behave in accordance with the operation strategy, then to tightly connect the parent company and subsidiaries, at the same time, to capture the reputation in the international market and strengthen the adaptation to the changing environment.
  4. Seize competitive advantage via cultural diversity: An enterprise that is skilled at cross-cultural management is bound to be good at utilizing cultural diversity at the most and best to seize a competitive advantage, including building up a communication channel for mutual understanding, doing like Romans do while in Rome, i.e. adapting its operation strategy in accordance with the cultural environment of the target market. Not only make good use of the management strategy of the target market but also pay much attention to publicity of the culture and value of the enterprise, with an effort to gain the acceptance and support from the local government, counterpart, customers, and relevant unities concerned in the target market. Effectively use cultural diversity, on the one hand, could eliminate misunderstandings between people from different cultures, on the other, it could create a harmonious internal environment for the cross-boundary operation, additionally, win higher work efficiency and stronger competitiveness in the multinational business arena.

To conclude, cultural diversity is an objective existence that has been forming since ancient times, which could not be absolutely voided and eliminated by any single corporation, and there is no culture that is superior to any others. Moreover, cultural diversity could be seen from different angles, the discussion above is only a tiny part. In the cutthroat competition and ever fierce market, a comprehensive understanding of the function of culture diversity, and its pros and cons for both individuals and organizations are of great importance, in that from which, corporations could know what are dos and don’ts in the cross-cultural management.

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