MGMT2102 Case Study: MTV Networks- The Arabian Challenge
MTV (Music Television), launched in 1981, pioneered the concept of a cable music channel. MTV’s global expansion strategy since the mid-1990s was to “Think globally, act locally,” where they aim to adapt to local conditions by really reflecting the youth culture, and adhering to local taste and culture. In this case, analysts felt that the Middle East would prove to be MTVN’s most ambitious and challenging venture, however MTV still decided to launch here due to proactive reasons (growth opportunities), but recognised that their success was contingent upon a tactical balancing between being mindful and respectful, and without diluting what MTV stood for (delivery of international quality music); as well as being able to deal with all issues discussed in this memo (anti-American sediments prevalent; stiff competition; culturally sensitivity).
Fundamental Management Issue: Paradoxes of Cross cultural management (Sense-Making Model) Sense-making involves placing stimuli into a framework that enables people to “comprehend, understand, explain, attribute, extrapolate, and predict”. By noticing cues about the situation, eg nature of people, relationship, topic, location, prior events; the sense-making model allows us to index context, and thus make attributions based on identity and experiences. MTV Arabia (MTVa) recognised their context of attempting to launch into the culturally sensitive Arab world environment, where anti-American sentiments prevail due to Cultural History. In this case, MTVa has so far been successful through selecting the appropriate schema, which not only results in self confidence and effectiveness, but prevents them from making serious and costly mistakes. MTVa’s success is also contributed to their recognition of the influences of cultural values, and their understanding beyond sophisticated stereotyping- Although the Arab world’s high Uncertainty Avoidance dimension reveals a highly rule-oriented society that does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse, MTVa was able to recognise the paradox of value trumping, where certain sets of values take precedence over others in certain contexts. This not only allowed them to make sense of contradictory behaviour, such as the Arab world’s acceptance of their programmes despite prevalent issues, but also allowed them to differentiate individual and group values, and work through unresolved cultural issues accordingly.
Issue #1: prevalent anti-American sediments
MTVa also had to overcome the influences of unresolved Cultural History where they faced potential resistance due to the latent and overt anti-American sentiments in various parts of the world (US invasion of Iraq, questioned America’s motives in Lebanon, and its support to arch enemy Israel). However, MTV felt that although the Arab publics are opposing US foreign policies, their eager consumption of commercialism will see them simultaneously embracing yet another American brand. Although analysts felt this would be a major problem as MTV carried with it an image of open and explicit Western culture (through its sexually explicit and provocative programmes), MTV did not face too many difficulties, once they explained that they were not in the business of exporting American culture. MTV recognised the importance of acceptance and respect, where MTV Networks Chairman and MTVI President, Roedy, drew on his past experiences where he had previously met with the political leaders of countries where they felt market entry was difficult, eg China, Israel, Cuba; to explain the network’s initiatives to them. Thus MTV’s preparation for the Arab world also involved conducting an extensive survey of the region to understand what the target group (18-24 year old school/university students) wanted, as well as spoke to the elderly/parents and figures of authority (leaders, governments) to assure them that they were there to...
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