|University||National University of Singapore (NUS)|
|Subject||MGMT9040: Organizational Behavior and Development|
MGMT 9040: Organizational Behavior and Development Case Study, NUS, Singapore Should Disney accommodate local cultures so much? Wouldn’t the parks provide a better experience by bringing consistency
A man named Walt Disney was searching for vacation options his two young daughters would enjoy and that he could enjoy with them. He realized that there were no good options that would fulfill his goal, so he set out to create one and in 1955, Disneyland opened its doors in Anaheim, California. The theme park quickly became dubbed “the happiest place on earth”.
Disney formed a company called Disney Imagineering staffed with artists and craftspeople. Their charge was to create and design the themed venues that would make up the park(s). Jim Thomas of Disney Imagineering says that the company has three strategic priorities: creativity and innovation, application of technology, and global expansion. After a relatively short time, a second park called Disneyworld opened its doors (1971) in Orlando, Florida. Epcot Center soon opened on the same campus offering visitors to the park exposure to cultures from across the world. The theme of Epcot was perhaps foretelling of Disney’s future global expansion.
Joe Lanzisero of Disney Imagineering says that at its core, the Disney brand is about “human traits that cross cultural boundaries” and transcend “the human experience”. The themes of the stories told by the Disney brand touch on such issues as family, humour and fears. Thomas adds that by fulfilling the company’s strategic priorities, they provide their guests with unique and memorable experiences that provide a lifetime of memories.
Disney is a global company in all respects, and every visitor to their European and Asian locations is contributing to global trade. With the US making up only 5% of the world’s population, strategically there is no question why Disney chose to expand globally. This expansion not only benefits Disney – the parks have significant financial and cultural impacts on the areas they are located in. Global expansion such as this requires Disney to overcome such barriers as language, cultural difference, political issues, and dealing with fluctuating foreign currencies.
When creating a new global location, Disney has to be careful about making assumptions about the local culture as these assumptions may be erroneous and could create significant issues. One way Disney was proactive in avoiding problems is illustrated in the opening of the Hong Kong location. When designing “Tomorrowland” for the Hong Kong location (an attraction that highlights what the future might bring), the Imagineers realized that Hong Kong was a city that was in many ways already living in “tomorrowland”. They decided to redesign this feature of the park and based it on a different planet far away in the galaxy. Disney also hired a feng shui consultant to assist in placement and orientation of the park, the buildings, and even the interiors of the buildings and attractions.
With such vast global expansion, Disney has to be mindful of maintaining their own cultural integrity while simultaneously respecting and acknowledging local cultures. They also have to pay attention to the lessons and insights they have learned through their previous growth to help anticipate challenges in future expansions. One way they learn is through collection of feedback after a new location opens – often by using the Internet. This data is used to make “software” adjustments – there are adjustments to the “programming” within the parks.
Overall the Disney organization is an excellent example of a truly global company that provides tremendous benefit to the local cultures they expand into.
Questions for Discussion
- Should Disney accommodate local cultures so much? Wouldn’t the parks provide a better experience by bringing consistency across all of the locations?
- What benefits does a theme park the magnitude of a Disney location bring to the local area? Would the area you come form be able to support such a park?
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