organizational behavior essay

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Disney's European theme park adventure: a clash of cultures
Marie C. Trigg and
David Trigg

The authors
Marie C. Trigg is Lecturer at Bowater School, Deakin
University, Australia.
David Trigg is Lecturer in the Department of Management, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.

When companies internationalize, the dimension of individual national cultures needs to be considered in conjunction with corporate culture. Theme parks deliberately set out to portray the cultures and fantasies of other times and places, thereby compounding the issues affecting corporate and national cultures. Explores the tensions that the corporate culture of Walt Disney Corporation imposes on its French subsidiary, Euro Disney SCA, to determine if the resultant conflict has contributed to its poorer-than-expected performance. Using the three-level construct of culture proposed by Schein an examination of the corporate culture of Disney will be made with particular reference to its programme of internationalization and the ultimate "clash" of its corporate culture with French national culture. The strength of Disney's corporate culture has led to conflict, and blinded the organization to the differences in the surrounding local culture.

Theme parks are a modern concept which originated with the opening of Disneyland in
1955 at Anaheim, California. Such parks, according to Milman (1991) attempt to create an ambience of another place and time by focusing on a dominant motif, around which architecture, costumed personnel, rides, shows, food services and merchandizing are co-ordinated. Another description would have them as privatized, ageographic cities where there are never-ending, controlled simulations
(Sorkin, 1992). Notwithstanding their regulation, theme parks are able to present happy visions of pleasure by stripping away the less appealing aspects of regular urban life such as crime and grime.
Theme parks, as the name suggests, employ one or more themes which are used throughout the visitors' experiences from names and images to merchandizing. It is a unified experience usually operated as a single management unit and hence differs considerably from leisure parks which are normally an agglomeration of amusements conducted by individual operators. Theme parks differ also from heritage parks where the activity and sensations revolve around enlightenment or historical preservation rather than entertainment (Bramwell, 1991).
King (1991) contends that theme parks are modern museums which induce pleasure and stimulate curiosity. Theming comprises shorthand stylization of person and place to create archives of collective memory, belief, symbol and archetype. A theme park is a bank of popular culture that connects entertainment and informal learning through synthesizing of popular culture.
Theme park activity differs from other forms of vacation and leisure activity because it caters particularly for family groups. The largest market segment for tourism is the family vacation. As vacations present a highThe authors would like to express their gratitude to
Professor Darrell Mahoney of Deakin University,
Australia, for his encouragement and valuable comments. This article draws on and expands an earlier paper that was presented at the Annual
Conference of the Association for Global Business at Las Vegas, Nevada, in November 1994.
Unattributed quotations and anecdotal comments are taken from interviews with management and staff.

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal
Volume 2 · Number 2 · 1995 · pp. 13-22
© MCB University Press · ISSN 1352-7606


Disney's European theme park adventure: a clash of cultures

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal

Marie C. Trigg and David Trigg

Volume 2 · Number 2 · 1995 · 13-22

(MNCs). Others who have added specific insights in the area include Randlesome