Organizational Behavior and Communication in the Walt Disney Company

This paper focuses on the organizational behavior and communication within the Walt Disney Company. This piece contains a discussion on The Disney Company’s philosophy, mission statement, vision statement and values and its affect on organizational behavior and communication. The Disney Company is an international organization in which communication role plays an important part in the organizations’ perception and organizational culture. The Company supports its values through its actions and communications among and within cast members (employees) as well as the general public.
The Walt Disney Company “started with a mouse” a favorite comment made by Walt himself as he looked back at the humble beginnings of his organization. The Company’s philosophy, mission statement, vision statement and values come directly from The Company’s annual report (2010). The Company’s philosophy is taken directly from Walt Disney himself where “every child is born with a vivid imagination” which became the foundation for animated sequences of fantasy, visits to the depths of the ocean and dreams of flight into Space.
The Company’s mission statement is “to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world. ” The vision statement reads “The Walt Disney Company is to be the preeminent leader in the field of family entertainment.

The Company values are Innovation, quality through high standards of excellence and maintain quality standards for all product categories; Community to create a positive and inclusive idea about families and provide entertainment experiences for all generations to share. Every product will tell a story and will be timeless and engaging to inspire and delight; Optimism which focuses on hope, aspiration and have positive resolutions and Decency where the company honors and respects the trust people place in the Company and provide an atmosphere to create fun and to laugh at experiences and themselves.
Communication plays a crucial role in perception and organizational culture within The Disney Company. A significant part of communication lays the question of trust between people receiving information and those giving information. Thomas, Zolin & Hartman, 2009 discussed the capability of trust and communication improving organizational concerns relating to employee participation and job performance. Open communication is a factor relating to interpersonal trust.
If employees cannot trust supervisors then employees hesitate to work towards organizational goals. When companies exhibit openness, it promotes the organizations’ commitment to it culture and values (DeRidder, 2004). Being a global company, Disney employs people with diverse backgrounds and nationalities and being unable to communicate and work together can create problems. The Company aligns its communication style with its culture and values through the use of storytelling.
Using a method called the “Grandparents Story”, Murray Nossel teaches employees of global companies how to listen and communicate with each other (O’Connor, 2010). Nossel says the use of storytelling brings people together because everyone has a Grandparent story and key to the method is not the story itself, but people listening (O’Connor). Barker and Gower (2010) recognized storytelling as a person’s ability to establish a common ground and social relationships.
By creating a picture through stories, organizations are able to represent personal, interpersonal and corporate perspectives on a social level (Barker and Gower). A noteworthy part of communication is dealing with and resolving conflict. The Disney Company faced significant communication conflicts with Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris) in France. Instead of listening, assimilating and communicating with the French people and their culture, The Disney Company dictated how the park would be set-up, prices to charge and create another “America” in France.
According to France, everything had to be “the Disney way” and the French and their culture were pushed aside adding to a hostile environment (Spencer, 1995). The Company should have formed a group with French and American members to work out conflicts because the opinions of the members create discussions establishing an improved detailed method rather than a singular perspective (Jehn and Mannix, 2001). To improve communication with and among groups, The Company should follow the methods of recently acquired Pixar Company.
The people at Pixar have the freedom to communicate with anyone in a “safe” environment to offer ideas and criticism with explanations from anyone at any level in the organization. The leadership at Pixar explains that creativity is behind the company’s success and having an open communication format is the basis of the company culture (Catmull, 2008). Disney’s espoused values align with its enacted values. The Disney Company focuses on the customer and their experiences and even created a new term called “guestology” (Innovation value).
The term applies to the importance Disney puts on understanding their customers. Disney measures the amount of time a customer has to wait, the number of acceptable drops on the ride Tower of Terror” and what prices guests are willing to pay before becoming unhappy (Quality, Every product telling a story and Optimism values) (Ford and Heaton, 2001). According to Ford and Heaton, the organizational culture of The Disney Company guides and directs employees on how to handle situations using honor and respect that may not appear during formal training (Optimism value).
Disney cast members (employees) are empowered to make decisions or perform reasonable actions to satisfy guests (Decency value). According to Michael Griffin, Vice President of communications for Walt Disney World, when it comes to communication, Disney disseminates in writing the same information to cast members as it does to the general public. When it comes to information not in writing, team leaders are informed and they in turn verbally inform their members. According to Griffin, the company does everything to protect the brand (Elsasser, 2009).
As the Walt Disney Company grew through the innovative efforts of artists and technology, the Company maintains its philosophy of creating with the vivid imagination of a child. As the company grew to international status through movies, amusement parks and Broadway productions, the company continues to maintain its dedication to providing innovative, quality entertainment for all members of the family. The Disney Company communicates its corporate values which are infused in the organizational culture, instilled in employee training and acted upon with honor and respect to the customer.

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