Hofstede’s four cultural dimensions include power distance, avoidance of uncertainity, masculinity and individualism. There are some differences found within US and France cultural values. Individualism is the cultural dimension, which measures the extent people looking after themselves and their family members only. On the other hand, power distance is concerned with the degree of prevailing inequality, which can be high or low, i.e. people with or without power. According to Hofstede, the power distance dimension is indicating that at a point, less powerful members of organizations and institutions expect and accept the unequal distribution of power (Hofstede 2011).
While investigating the degree or individualism and power distance, it has been seen that US has a significantly high degree of individualism combined with a low power distance. In contrast, studies have revealed that France has a higher degree of power distance along with low level of individualism. However, both US and France include individualistic cultures, but French have more collective tendencies compared to US. Moreover, the power distance among individuals is higher in France compared to US, which indicates that perhaps the importance of titles and understanding that the hierarchies should be respected as the part of their culture (Hofstede 2011). It is also evident in the Euro Disneyland case study, during the agreement; France government gave a clause to the US Disneyland owner that they must need to respect French culture throughout their foreign project.
The dimension, uncertainty avoidance measures the way through which an organization manages different unknown situations, stress of change and unexpected events. In this context, while investigating the relationship between power distance and uncertainty avoidance, it has been revealed that United states had approximately half of the level of uncertainty avoidance compared to France, indicating that French population is not eager to have unexpected contexts to be raised and the population have more potential in predicting everything and planning to deal with these kinds of incidents. By the way, the investigation can be linked to cultures by analyzing how US much more readily accept change compared to France, which is more likely to focus on its tradition and trends to be carried out throughout the national business operations and social wellness (Jacobs 2012).
France, in contrast to the change acceptance capacity of United States, is more potent in taking pride in their long and rich historical achievements and traditions. Finally, through analyzing the relationship between power distances with the other Hofstede’s cultural dimension, i.e. masculinity, the evaluation of the degree to which the culture values competition or cooperation is done. The investigation revealed that France has a low level of masculinity compared to United States, which in turn indicates that France has a inferior competitive level compared to US, valuing instead cooperation, group decisions, which in turn allow the accomplishments of the country to be based on the environment they live in, rather than focusing upon the wealth or recognition they received (Bochner 2013).
Fons Trompenaars researched on the “cultural differences between United States and France”. Thus, Trompenaars’ study is helpful for demonstrating the cultural differences existing among United States and France, which can later be correlated with the case study of Euro Disneyland. Trompenaars expanded the range of Hofstede research by including 15000 managers from 28 countries through 10 years, making a comprehensive study, which encompasses different ethnicities and their difference cultural values. Trompennar added some additional categories involving “universalism versus particularism, individualism versus communitarianism, neutral versus emotional, specific versus diffuse, and achievement versus ascription” (Maude 2011).
Trompenaars identified the above mentioned dimensions for distinguishing one culture to another. Trompenaars analyzed the cultural differences existing between countries and within organizations through four main categories. On the vertical axis, Trompenaars’ model is a “distinction between cultures people oriented and task oriented culture”. The hierarchical culture defines the ‘family oriented’ persons. Leadership has a crucial role in this cultural and strategic direction, conflict resolution and interior cohesion.
Within the other features, the fact that the choice of top management have precedence over one another, the existence of information, which taken for granted by the staffs, whereas power is exercised by public, instead of imposing upon people. Hierarchical task oriented culture has been described as “Eiffel tower”. It is a more “formal” culture compared to the family, which strongly focuses upon the role and respects the standards, rules and norms. In these types of culture, rational and analytical approach along with efficiency is the key concepts. On the other hand, incubator is indicated by egalitarian culture and people oriented (Thomas and Peterson 2014).
This type of culture demonstrates a tough collective purpose. “Informal environment and the importance of creativity and innovation” are the key points to be focused on. In these types of culture, people attempt to develop a sense of self-training. Finally, in the last quadrant, Guide Missile culture has been represented, considering egalitarian task/ result oriented. In this type of culture, a strong commitment to the professionalism, but a low commitment to the organization, they work for, therefore, in this case, people strongly focuses upon achieving results.
According to this model, US is comes under the category names “Guided missile”, as US has shown to have an organizational culture that promote task orientation and support people in the work environment. However, not only task oriented is the only characteristic of this type of culture, rather people are also focused in this context. Here, employees need to respect the fixed set of rules and have significant potential (Velo 2011). The culture seeks a high loyalty of employees towards the task they have assigned to rather than seeking loyalty towards the company. The culture induces a domestic nature structure of the organizational system, while evaluating employees on individual’s performance, instead of strong connection of the organizational success with teamwork.
In contrast to the cultural category of United States, France can be categorised under the Eiffel tower organizational culture, which is characterized as inclusion of traditional attitude, submissive, backward and restriction to change, these types of attitude towards management style (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2011). Here, the organizational culture indicates that all the important decision regarding the organizational operations is undertaken by the senior management, instead of including all the staffs, thereby following the pyramid structure of organizational hierarchy and management. In French organizational culture, the organizational duties are distributed effectively from the beginning. Compared to the US culture, this type of organizational culture more towards their employees, making the interpersonal relationships more crucial in the organizational context.
Figure: Trompaneer’s Model of cultural dimension
There are several mistakes identified, regarding respecting and realizing the values of French culture, while developing the Euro Disney entertainment park in France. The Disney owners literally attempted to transplant US culture in France, without considering the cultural conflict that may be raised as a result of it. US imposed their culture over the French culture, thereby attacking French traditions and customers, which resulted in protests from local residents and farmers. The US stakeholders misunderstood the French culture both from the aspect of lifestyle and legal aspects (Karadjova-Stoev and Mujtaba 2016). The management decisions were misinterpreted as a result of wrong decisions undertook by US Disney top management.
While developing the culture in the park, the French habits and traditions were not taken into account, as for example, in French culture breakfast is crucial moment of the day, whereas at the park, breakfast were not served. French community always have a glass of wine, which they treat as one of the key part of their enjoyment or celebration, rather they are habituated to have wine during their meal times regularly; but US top management prohibited alcohol in the park. In work environment, the dress codes were also not familiar with the French culture. Moreover, the working attitude is also not comfortable for the French workers. A significant cultural discrimination was evident in the organizational management, as all the top management positions were occupied by the Americans, which even make the situation worse, as they are unable to fix the mistakes, raised at the beginning (Luthans and Doh 2009).
Another big mistake was taking it granted that French entertainment culture is similar as the US one, which led to the allocation of staffs and resources in a wrong way. For instance, the peak days, like holidays are not same in France as US, which caused less staff present on a crowded day and more than adequate staffs in empty days, which affected the profitability and efficiency of the park in a negative way. In France, people uses buses as a transport system to reach the park, which was also misunderstood by the park’s management, as they made lot of car parking areas focusing upon the private transportation, whereas made not enough space for bus parking. It also affected negatively towards the popularity of the entertainment park.
The third mistake was not considering recession signs, while placing significantly high expectations upon the profitability of the project, i.e. Euro Disney Entertainment Park (Karadjova-Stoev and Mujtaba 2016). Thus, the top management set high revenue expectations, which the park failed to meet. Even the park did not control to sell the available tickets as they had set a high price for it, which was unaffordable by common people in France. Moreover, the situation got worsened by the inappropriate allocation of resources and staffs, which make the park owners to contribute more for park expense than its revenue during the fiscal year.
The case study promoted several management and cross cultural interaction related lessons. Firstly, it reflected that every cultural and geographical aspect are different and marketers need to analyze all the social, cultural and environmental factors; prior investing in a business and expecting a high rate of revenue, only based on the previous success in a similar project in some different context or place. In this context, cultural factors are vital for business success and showing disregard or impose own culture upon others’ tradition, can be destructive. Thus, prior starting a business that is well established in another country, the marketer need to investigate the market thoroughly for gaining better understanding regard the culture and the ways through which the same business can be adapted to the different range of service users in a different country (Luthans and Doh 2009). However, the success of the organization depends upon how cohesive the organization is specially the employees and management and it is crucial to resolve organizational issues before it goes beyond the critical level. In addition, analyzing the case study of Euro Disney, it has also been learnt that it is important to make employees feel satisfied with policies and include proper communication tool.
Therefore, summing up the analysis, the first lesson Euro Disney faced was putting the park in charge of French local representative, Bourguignon. It is because, at the beginning, an American as in charge of the operations in Euro Disney, who was not as familiar with the French culture as the local in charge. The second thing that they learned is that they need to adapt more French culture within the “Disney culture” instead of making it more likely to the European culture. This can be accompanied by changing the policies, i.e. introducing wine for meals, providing breakfast and modifying the dress code like the French culture. The third aspect they learned is that building good relationship with the local community would be beneficial for the park’s sustainability and development (Luthans and Doh 2009).
In conclusion, it can be interpreted that for the success of Euro Disney, a better understanding of the French culture is essential. In addition, more adequate planning and thorough market research s needed. Moreover, the organizational human resource should be supported with more local executives to emphasize more on the French culture. From the recent reports, it has been revealed that in 2012, the park has been registered with a significant popularity with 16 million visitors, which is significantly higher than previous year, thereby indicating significant success.
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