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Assessing Corporate Culture

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This paper will assess the corporate culture of Walt Disney, addressing the background of the organization, training and teaching, stories, legends and myths associated with the company, philosophy, values, mission statement and the organizational goals of the company.

The Disney Brothers Studios was founded by Walt and Roy Disney in October of 1923. As the brothers increased their reach in the entertainment market, this small studio evolved into the corporate giant known today as the Walt Disney Company which has interests in entertainment and media enterprises including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, The Walt Disney Studios, ABC, Inc., ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Stores, television and radio stations and Internet websites.

"Fifty years ago, Walt Disney passed down three key precepts that still hold true today: tell a great story, tell it with great characters and push the technological barriers" (Hightower, 1993 p. 54). This statement by the Disney founder still drives the philosophy for Disney's studio entertainment and parks and resorts business segments.

In reviewing the vast corporation of the Walt Disney Company and all that it has to offer, one profound statement made by Walt Disney himself comes to the forefront, "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse" (Walt, n.d.). This statement suggests that the company has a strong focus to continually guide them in the way of the original idea of the company. Even as it watches the changes taking place in society and adapts to the new technologies and innovations, the Walt Disney Company has been able to implement diverse strategies for its growth and prosperity.

The Walt Disney Company's organizational culture, or "the basic pattern of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs considered the correct way of thinking about and acting on problems and opportunities facing the organization" (University, 2002, p. 448) is shown in part by their in-depth employee education, their manufacturers' code of conduct and their environmental commitment.

The Walt Disney Company's mission statement is: "To make people happy." Although the statement is only a one-liner it is supported by a set of values setting the performance standards and directs the implementation of the mission. Those values are: no cynicism; nurturing and promulgation of "wholesome American values" ; creativity, dreams and imagination; fanatical attention to consistency and detail; and preservation and control of the Walt Disney Company "magic".

The Walt Disney Company also has strong standards which the company feels that are imperative to make sure the Disney name, vision and company has superior record with the community. This is shown in their Code of Conduct for Manufacturers ("Code", n.d.), which specifies: a standard of excellence in every aspect of our business and in every corner of the world; ethical and responsible conduct in all of our operations; respect for the rights of individuals; and respect for the environment; manufacturers will not use child labor; manufacturers will treat each employee with dignity and respect.

The Walt Disney Company also takes great pride in being environmentally conscience. The company's environmental statement is "the attitude and commitment to support responsible environmental initiatives, and that commitment begins with individual action" ("DisneyHAND - Environmentality").

In reviewing the Walt Disney Company, whether it be at Disney itself, in a Disney store or visiting their informative website, a person finds statements such as "Nurturing a Creative Culture", "Innovation: Bringing creativity to life" and "Disney Difference." These slogans and sayings reinforce the Walt Disney Company's goal to have a positive effect on all types of customers that they deal with, whether it is store customers, workers, shareholders, investors, manufacturers, etc.

The Walt Disney Company's culture has taken into consideration globalization, the changing workforce, implications for organizational behavior and employment relationships, all which are crucial to the success of a healthy company. The Walt Disney Company has enterprises in several countries and deals with the changing workforce and emerging employment relationships on a daily basis. They are also guided by outlined missions in all areas of the company as well as being proactive on several issues. This practice keeps them continually growing as a company.

Many of the core values implemented by Walt and Roy Disney in 1928 still stand strong today. Walt and Roy understood that innovation was the key to success and fostered a culture that allowed and encouraged controlled risk taking. (Lynch) Over the years, that philosophy has evolved into a rather simplistic, yet highly successful model that allows the company to continuously strengthen its bottom-line through creative and innovative processes. The company defines its four phase model in the following steps:

1.Define the Culture

2.Align the Issues

3.Design the Process

4.Redefine the Product or Service

The Walt Disney Company workforce includes cast members, or the employees who work in its theme parks, hotels, shops and restaurants. The Walt Disney Company's commitment to customer service is the basis for employees' formal training through Disney University, where introductory classes focus on gaining knowledge and understanding of the Walt Disney Company's goals, traditions and operational philosophies (Miller, 1992 p. 191). In addition, role models take the place of formal company operating procedures as peers teach job skills to new hires, thereby personalizing the position to company polices and procedures (Miller, 1992 p. 192). Partly due to this training, the Walt Disney Company does an amazing job empowering each and every one of their approximately 50,000 employees and encourages them to share their ideas and have involvement with company decisions. Employees are taught in early training sessions to understand (1) who you are and what are your core competencies, (2) what you do and how you deliver your product, and (3) where you are going via your goals and strategies. Disney employees are encouraged to "get out of the box, toss it aside, and start with pure, fresh, undiluted ideas".

Miller (1992) highlighted the importance the Walt Disney Company places on rewarding individual contributions through its recognition and appreciation programs:

1.The Walt Disney Company rewards length

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