Disney World’s managerial innovations

Disney World’s managerial innovations

The Disney Themeparks enjoy worldwide recognition for their human resource management innovations. Many other tourism enterprises, big and small attempted to learn from Disney.

A primary philosophy of Disney’s HRM consists of connecting the employee experience closely together with the customer experience. Excellent services are provided only by employees who are satisfied and motivated. Accordingly, the hiring of employees is called “casting” – like finding actors for important roles in a show. The metaphor from the film world fits well in the overall Disney image. In order to obtain good performance in the show, management must 1) Make the employee feel special, (2) Treat the employee as an individual, (3) Respect the employee for his performance and (4) Make the employee knowledgeable to be able to perform.

Leadership plays a large role in establishing this environment. The Hongkong Disney themepark  illustrates the management obligations in the following way:

In order to deliver significant customer experiences, the whole service supply chain should be focused on the customer. It is not only the front personnel’s job. Walt Disney World has developed a system called Role and Purpose. Role and Purpose emphasizes that everybody has a different role in the organization, from serving drinks and sweeping the floor to managing maintenance for example, but all employees have the same purpose: making sure that every guest has the most splendid experience. This system aims to achieve that everyone knows how their work matters in the final outcome. For example, sweepers know that they are the reason that Disney World is famous for cleanliness, and they are trained in giving guests directions and interacting with children, emphasizing how their role contributes to the bigger purpose of a great customer experience.

The recruiting method is essential. Disney is popular for gap year occupation, and, for its Paris park, Disney tours most of Europe and participates in job fairs etc in order to recruit staff. “Auditions” are part of the candidate assessment for some types of jobs. The casting is itself an act of entertainment.

Over time Disney has received substantial critique for the HRM-model. Opening the Disneyland Paris illustrated the difficulties of transferring HRM innovations from North American culture to Europe. The barriers in terms of culture and legislation are described by for example Karadjova-Stoev, G. & Mujtaba, B.G. (2009). Strategic Human Resource Management And Global Expansion Lessons From The Euro Disney Challenges In France. International Business & Economics Research Journal, 8, 1, 69-78.


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