Even though Disney has a theme song that says “It’s a small world after all”, the world remains quite diverse. The biggest factors that contributed to the poor performance during the first year of EuroDisney’s operations were: a poor understanding of the marketplace, the issues and the cultural differences between two nations and two differing approaches to business and life. The major factor was ethnocentrism of the American leaders counterbalanced by French national insecurities. I have to suggest that the powerful and perhaps arrogant leadership style of Michael Eisner contributed to the problems. Even so, the problems were wider than that. Assuming that people would come from all over Europe as part of the business plan but failing to comprehend how diverse those consumers would be was another major part of the problem. Even though Europe has recently united as the European Union, they have been strongly distinct and independent cultures for centuries.
Disney failed to understand the French national character, their insecurities over cultural invasion after having been an occupied nation twice in the last century and their deep commitment to maintaining their identity and liberty. The arrogance of the French is based on insecurity as a global minority and the arrogance of the Americans was based on a wide open optimism and global success. The collision of the two ‘arrogancies’ was “formidable” as the French say.
2. To what degree do you consider that these factors were a) foreseeable, b) controllable by either EuroDisney or the parent company Disney?
A study in history and an understanding of the characters of Europe and the European market place would have enabled the Disney executives to anticipate many of the problems. Some problems were controllable and others were inevitable. Those that were inevitable, however, needed an approach that would...