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

Topics: The Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Cross-cultural communication Pages: 7 (2079 words) Published: October 14, 2011
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.

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. expatriates 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.

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,...
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