Cultural Differences between the United States and France
1.What are some of the Main Cultural Differences between the United States and France?
2.In what way has Trompenaars’s research helped explain cultural differences between the United States and France?
3.In Managing its Euro Disneyland Operations, what are three mistakes that the Company made?
4.Based on its Experience, what are three lessons the Company should have alarmed about how to deal with Diversity?
1.The application of Hofstede’s four cultural dimension as a point of reference to the given case involving the Euro Disneyland can be understood and appreciated in the light of the fact that the United States and France, even though perceived as the western allies when it comes to the socio-cultural aspects do have significant difference when it comes to the workplace cross cultural dynamics (Adekunle & Jude, 2014). In this section, we would consider the various dimensions and parameters laid down by Hofstede to underscore the cultural differences in a cross cultural workplace paradigm:
Power distance: in terms of the power distance between the more powerful members and the less powerful members of the organizations, France has a higher score as compared to the United State (Bird & Mendenhall, 2016). This means, that in a general workplace in France, members at the lower rungs of the management are more likely to blindly follow the orders of their superiors as compared to those in the United States.
Uncertainty avoidance: when it comes to the uncertainty avoidance or risk taking tendency among the individuals in the United States and France, they almost show opposing trends. In case of the United states, employees, individual and other contributing personnel to the workplace environment score extremely low on the uncertainty avoidance meaning that Americans are more likely to be tolerant to newer ideas and outlook as compared to their French counterparts, it also signifies that traditionally the French prefer to have a less risk taking attitude by the managers of the organization (Chanlat, Davel & Dupuis, 2013).
Individualism Vs Collectivism: even though both the cultures scores high in terms of individualism at the workplace signifying the fact that the people in the respective cultures tend to look out for themselves rather than trying to fit into a community or group. Such work cultures provide a greater number of cases where individual work initiatives are undertaken by the members of the workforce (Eisenberg, et al., 2013). Comparatively, the United states scores higher as compared to France in terms of individualism.
Trompenaars's Research on Cross-Cultural Dimensions
Masculinity Vs Femininity: In this dimension spelt out by Hofstede, the two cultures namely the United States and France show somewhat opposing trends. The United States displays traditionally masculine culture where social values such as tangible success in career, money, material, wealth and recognition are factored higher as compared to the feminine characters such as low stress friendly environment etc (Kapur & Janakiram, 2015). On the other hand, France scores higher when it comes to the feminine nature of its workplace culture that tends to being more nurturing than competitive and goal-driven.
2.According to the works of Trompenaar with regard to the various cultural dimensions that are in play in case of cross cultural system, there could a large degree of variation between the perceptions of those dimensions among the individuals from different regional background. As in the given case study involving the crisis faced by Disney for its Euro Disneyland, the cultural differences between the American Head and the French Executives were very tangible (Miska & Öner, 2015).
Trompenaar sets out some of the dimensions that form the basis of recounting the cultural differences as follows:
Universalism Vs Particularism: In this regard, both the United States and France tend to have a leaning towards universalism. Universalism refers to the belief that almost all ideas and practices can be applied anywhere in the world without bringing in much changes to them. The people from such cultural background seem to hold deals and promises in a high accord and understand their sanctity (Moore, 2015).
Individualism Vs Communitarism: even though both the US and the France display a high degree of Individualism, the US definitely has a higher degree of it as compare to France. Countries such as France and the US which are high on individualism, the decisions and the managerial decisions are considered as great personal responsibility as opposed to them being seen as a team work (Pudelko, Tenzer & Harzing, 2014).
Neutral Vs Emotional: this is one dimension where the approach of the French and the American values differ from each other. While, the United States shows a rather neutral to emotions culture, French scores high on the emotive factor. Due to the open expression of the emotions, the decision making in France often relies on the humane side of the issues as well as opposed on depending only on the factual aspect of the things (Richter, et al., 2016).
Mistakes Made by Disney in Managing Euro Disneyland Operations
Specific Vs diffuse: In case of the United States, the public and the private spaces are very segmented and are not at all diffused as the individuals like to keep their public, private and work life carefully spaced from each other. When it comes to the French culture, even though people have a specific approach but it is quantitatively less stringent than their American counterparts.
Achievement Vs Ascription: the achievement dimension of the United States is pretty high scoring as compared to that in France. The status that is attributed to an individual based on their contribution and performance is one of the biggest cultural dimensions in case of the US whereas in case of France, the overall leaning is a mix of Achievement and Ascription for the accordance of status to an individual. This can be directly correlated to the masculine and feminine nature of both the cultures as discussed by Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (Schein, 2014).
Time: The work culture that is followed in the US tends to be following a sequential approach as opposed to the Synchronous approach as followed by the French. Such cultural leaning of the US sets it apart from that in France as the individuals working in a US work place are expected to take up one thing at a time and do it with perfection, keeping an eye on the future, as opposed to the French who prefer to multi task and pay close attention to the past, present and the future (Stahl, et al., 2017). The perception of the time factor is also important for the cultural understanding of the workplace dynamics.
Environment: this aspect of the work place in the United States has been one of the dimensions that show difference when compared to the French work place. People in a cultural paradigm such as the US tend to be more inner-directed and believe that the outcomes can be controlled by their effort and temperament (Thomas & Peterson, 2014). When it comes to this particular dimension, the French actually score less than their counterparts in America signifying that the individual tend to believe that not everything can be controlled by ones efforts and temperaments.
3.The Euro Disneyland was one of the most ambitious and resource-intensive projects by Disney in the modern times. In spite of the huge capital investments and investment of other vital resources was done aplenty, it faced severe crisis right at the beginning of its lifecycle due to the lack of cross cultural management on the part of the management of the company (Tung, Baumann & Hamin, 2014). With regard to the management and operation of the Euro Disneyland, there were several problems that were observed, after going through the case study.
Strict and culturally misappropriated rules for the workers: as the hiring for the operation and management of the Euro Disney in France was done locally, it would have certainly helped the company to know what were the manners and rules that other businesses in the domain operating in France follow. The rules for the dressing and presentation of the executives at the theme park seemed to be going against the idea of individualism at work that the French bore when it comes to their workplace.
Lack of dialogue to with the local people before and after the inauguration: The opening of the Theme park which had been a constant reminder of the US pop culture and a form of cultural imperialism became a bone of contention for the company and other right wing groups of the region. Little things with regard to the conduct of small but significant activities for example understanding the concept of personal space and private space of those French people coming into the theme park, food and beverage preferences etc. could have helped Disney to avoid some of the problems it faced initially. For example, on the grand opening of the theme park, spare ribs were served for the guest without any silverware to appropriately serve themselves. Renaming the themes to a French sounding name was not enough apparently and this showed up as a somewhat tepid reaction on the part of the guests for the Americanized and yet wanna-be French aspect of the whole endeavor (Zhu & Bargiela-Chiappini, 2013).
An insight into the local mindset would also have helped the company to try and ease them by underscoring the benefits of the project and not only the “U.S consumerism being pushed onto the French children” rhetoric floating around.
Linguistic and leadership issues: there is no doubt that even though the then CEO of Disney Eisen tried to push the image of the upcoming theme park as the ideal “more French than the French” way, but a lot less actually materialized that truly reflected the French cultural values at play. For instance, the use of the word “Howdy” that sounds like “Audi”, something that the French sponsor Renault wouldn’t want to hear at the pre-opening party became a concern.
4.There are a lot of lessons that the company should have learned about for dealing with the cultural diversity in a better manner (Pudelko, Tenzer & Harzing, 2014). Here are some of them that are crucial from the management and operation of the park point of view:
Keeping an open dialogue with the French on the decision making panel as they know more about their culture: in order to gain an insight on what is acceptable and what is sniggered upon by the French in general, the management should have made an attempt to understand it from its employees or other French associates on the project.
Sensitivity to the local culture: the language and the concept of culture in relevance to the local population of the place could be grasped sooner and would have saved the company some ruffled feathers afterwards.
Work culture and sense of individualism: the stringent, non negotiable stance that was taken up by the management on hiring the local workforce to operate and manage the theme park was seen as somewhat ironhanded by the French people. The company should have allowed an open channel for negotiation so as to fit better into the situation rather than being seen as an alien to the culture.
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