The Smile Factory: Disneyland Case

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Team Case# 1- The Smile Factory: Work at Disneyland

Disney has developed an intricate model of organizing its theme parks. This model requires thousands of employees to abide by standards set by company executives and theme-park trainers. Trainers are well versed in company policy, and for the most part, are able to effectively communicate Disney’s ideals and practices to its newly hired employees. Disney’s theme park employees adopt Disney’s company culture, language (and lingo), and the fear of losing their position if caught disregarding one of the company’s many conventions. Disney had developed a unique culture among its park employees, which affects everything from their appearance to their social life. Disney embraces a strong culture for its employees. By doing so, Disney execs capitalize on the two primary advantages of such a culture: they use it as a source of identity and commitment, and as a method of social control. Disney has a rigorous screening process when going through employment applications, and does not allow perspective employees to apply for specific assignments. Instead, Disney places each new hire to designated assignments. As a general rule: the more conventionally attractive the employee, the higher the internal status of his position. Once hired, Disney employees follow strict rules and regulations, while being closely monitored by supervisors. These regulations include adopting the lingo of the park (i.e. “guests” instead of “visitors”, or “costumes” instead of “uniforms”). Employees at Disney are instructed, and trained never to break character when “on-stage” (when visible by park guests and outsiders). Disney has thus developed a sense of identity for its employees: they are actors putting on a show. While staying in character and abiding by the numerous rules may frustrate employees at times, inserting Disney on their resume motivates them to complete their summer tenure. Company culture is essential for the way in which...
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