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The Walt Disney Company was founded on October 16, 1923, by brothers Walt and Roy Disney
as an animation studio, it has become one of the biggest Hollywood studios, and owner and licensor
of eleven theme parks and several television networks, including ABC and ESPN. Disney's
corporate headquarters and primary production facilities are located at The Walt Disney Studios
in Burbank, California. Mickey Mouse serves as the official symbol of The Walt Disney Company.
For more than eight decades, the name Walt Disney has been famous in the field of family
entertainment. From humble beginnings as a cartoon studio in the 1920s to today's global
corporation, The Walt Disney Company continues to proudly provide quality entertainment for
every member of the family, across America and around the world. The Walt Disney Company,
together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family
entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and
resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive media.


According to chapter 8 of the book understanding the theory and design of Organizations.
Organizational decision making is formally defined as the process of identifying and solving
problems. The process has two major stages.

 Problem identification
 Problem solution

However organizational decisions vary in complexity and can be categorized as programmed or

non-programmed. For Programmed decisions they are repetitive and well defined, and procedure
exist for resolving the problem however Non-programmed decisions are novel and poorly defined,
and no procedure exists for solving them. They are used when an organization has not seen a
problem before and may not know how to respond. An example in Disney is the movie Mars needs
moms, in the weeks leading up to the release of Mars Needs Moms, Disney knew interest in the
film was unenthusiastic. But no one was prepared for such a disaster. From a financial standpoint,
Mars could be one of the biggest write-offs in modern Hollywood history.

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The motion-capture animated film costed $150 million to produce but earned only $6.9 million in
its debut at the domestic box office, the 12th worst opening of all time for a movie released in
more than 3,000 theaters and one of the lowest openings for a major 3D release. Disney was faced
with a non-programmed decision after the failure of this movie because of its total failure on the
market and a huge investment that was made it shows that to some extent the producers did not
expect a blow that big, so the decision they made is one that they may not have been exposed to
before in order to cover the loses and also to keep the image of the company.

What is culture? Daft (2013) defines culture as a set of values, norms, guiding beliefs, and
understandings that is shared by members of an organization and taught to new members as the
correct way to think, feel, and behave. Walt Disney Disney is “rich in heritage, traditions, quality
standards, and values that it believes are critical factors to it success”. Cast members share the
values of honestly, integrity, respect, courage, openness, diversity, and balance. These values are
demonstrated through such traits and behaviours like making guests happy, caring about fellow
cast members, working as a team, delivering quality, fostering creativity, paying attention to every
detail, and having an emotional commitment to Disney. According to the article about Disney,
each of their companies has a unique ability to connect the imagination in a way that inspires
others, improves lives across the world and bring hope, laughter and smiles to those who need it
most. Together as one team, they embrace the values that make The Walt Disney Company an
extraordinary place to work: The Walt Disney Company creates an organizational culture based
on their mission, values and beliefs. The Walt Disney Company declares that their values;
innovation, quality, community, storytelling, confidence and courtesy, are present in everything
they do and help create the combined vision for their workforce.

The Walt Disney organizational structure is structured in a way that It displays the organic
structure because employees are however aware of their prime objectives but they have the
freedom to think beyond limit and come up with new innovative ideas. The company adopted the
phrase ‘dream as a team’ which allows for flexibility, the structure is not a rigid mechanistic

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According to my own view I believe Walt Disney has the Adaptability culture. A culture that is
characterized by strategic focus on the external environment through flexibility and change to meet
customer needs. The culture encourages entrepreneurial values, norms, and beliefs that support the
capacity of the organization to detect, interpret, and translate signals from the environment into
new responses. Walt Disney with its global presence and the nature of its industry this culture is
best suitable for Walt Disney.

However even though the culture is the Adaptability Culture, there is strict control in Disney and
at the same time the control is independent. The Walt Disney Company values diversity and they
believe that a diverse workforce is critical to their business .One can see this through Disney’s
International Program that employs cast members from across the globe. Handling Different

The company has been faced with the challenge of having to deal with employees from different
cultural and ethnic backgrounds. There have been cases where the company had to intervene to
help settle conflicts between employees coming from their different ethnic backgrounds. For
instance, some employees have refused or have been unable to take part in certain acting parts
because the message being portrayed is against their personal or religious beliefs. In other cases,
some members of staff have left with regards to problems that have to do with their culture. At the
same time others have tried to display that their culture is better and other cultures are primitive;
and some have totally been unsuccessful with getting over racism and this has caused struggles in
the business (The Walt Disney Company). Irregardless of these disputes Walt Disney endeavors
to cultivate a culture of togetherness, a culture that has no discrimination and it enforces this in its
values and make it known to the employees through their admission at the Walt Disney University.

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Walt Disney’s Corporate Social Responsibility

Walt Disney believes that acting responsibly is a fundamental part of their business. In 2014,
Disney gave $315.7 million to nonprofit organizations helping kids, families, and communities in
need through charitable cash giving, in-kind and product contributions, and public service
announcements. Since 2012, Disney has donated 23.1 million books to schools and children.
Below are some of the activities Walt Disney has done in an endeavor to be socially responsible:

 Disney has planted 3 million trees in Brazil’s threatened Atlantic forest

 Protected 40,000 coral reef in the Bahamas
 Conserved 50,000 acres of savanna wildlife corridors in Africa
 Disney worldwide conservation fund was established in Earth day in 1955
 In this fund Disney has helped to support $20 million in projects over 112 countries
 Walt Disney Company Meets Calvert signature and added to Calvert social index
 Walt Disney granted $1 million to P.L.A.Y. a pilot program created by UNICEF
 Walt Disney gave $2 million for relief of those who affected by hurricane Sandy in 2012

In 2009, Disney was named a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility according to the Boston
College Center for Corporate Citizenship and Reputation Institute. The managers at Walt Disney
also create a constructive culture. A culture according to Daft (2013) where managers pay close
attention to all constituencies and initiate change when needed to serve the broader interests, even
when it means taking risks. The underlying values include, managers caring deeply about all
stakeholder; strongly valuing people and processes that create useful change. Disney maintains the
highest ethical standards from theme parks to their consumer products and takes their corporate
social responsibility seriously and with a great amount of pride.

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As regards to Ethics Walt Disney as a company understands what different forms of discrimination
and harassment has on the psychological and even physical performance of the employee, which
in turn affect their output. The company has therefore put in place measures to have its employees
protected from all types of harassment and discrimination that might influence negatively on them
(The Walt Disney Company 1). The company has put in place policies that forbid employees from
being involved in any acts of harassment or discrimination of either a fellow employee, a visitor
to the company, or any other person when at the place of work.

This is in regard to acts that are under the law forbidden; and they include, among others, race,
sexual orientation, skin color, sex, religion, marital status, age, nationality or national origin,
covered veteran status, physical or mental disability, and pregnancy. By doing this and many other
practices aimed at having employees treated well, the company is fulfilling its obligation as
specified in its business goals and vision statement which require the company to drive the people
dimension of their business. This is, according to the report, also a culture and value that has been
at Walt Disney since its launch in 1923 (The Walt Disney Company 1).

Teamwork and Communications

Walt Disney is dedicated to providing open, free and effective channels of communication among
Cast Members and employees, and between Cast Members, employees and the Company's
management. Not only does open communications encourage teamwork and facilitate a healthy
working environment, but such free and open channels, both within departments and divisions, as
well as between divisions, promote synergy and enable the Company as a whole to realize greater
potential than the sum of its individual businesses.

Open communications can also make sure that employees are free to express their opinions and
give their views without the fear of discrimination or punishments. Where communications are
open and employee views are respected, the company will get better returns rather than when it
chooses to operate in privacy and hide important information from employees.

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According to the Boston Consulting Group’s list of the most innovative companies. Disney is in
the top 50 on number 18 with Apple leading on number 1, followed by google on number 2.
Managers at Disney strive to invest in their employees by giving them the platform for creativity.
As a matter of fact, the managers at Disney do more than encouraging innovation they demand it.
Projects allocated to the workers, the imaginers may seem impossible at first. However at Disney
the seemingly impossible is part of what innovation means. So managers here do the great job of
encouraging the imagineers and employees. Imagineers have a brainstorming session called “Blue
sky cellar”. Which is a rare preview of upcoming magic through the eyes of Walt Disney
Imagineers at Disney California Adventure Park. It enables one to marvel at the creative process
used to develop current ideas into future attractions. Imagineers have shown an abundance of eye-
opening materials in the Blue Sky Cellar where innovative concepts are cultivated that include:

 Sketches, concept art and models

 Descriptions of plans for new lands, attractions, shops, shows and food locations
 A video journal featuring the Imagineers' creative progress and displayed on a spectacular
103-inch plasma television.

Disney president Frank Wells believes that “If a good idea is there. You know it, you feel it, and
you do it, no matter where it comes from.” Disney has Disney shops spread around the world, and
Media networks, including the company’s television and internet operations. Since Disney has an
Organic structure as explained above so it adopts the Technical Core type of innovation desired
which involves bottom up, production techniques, workflow production ideas. Disney strives to
set a high standard of excellence and to maintain high-quality standards across all product
categories, so in doing so they are committed to a tradition of innovation and technology.

Walt Disney was a transformational leader. A transformational leader, “serves to change the status
quo by appealing to followers’ values and their since of higher purpose” (Northouse, 2013). Disney
was an innovator and go getter. Disney started his career in animation by attending the Chicago
Institute of Art in the evening and going to high school during the day (Langer, 2000). Disney had
found something he loved and wanted to do with his life. In 1923 Disney, along with his brother,
started the Disney Bros. Studio (Langer, 2000).

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From the beginning Disney had many people that he influenced and motivated. And according to
Daft (2015) a transformational leadership, is particularly suited for bringing about change. Change
is however difficult to implement because people fear change i.e. fear of the unknown. But with
Disney with their nature of business, everyday changes are bound to happen so the managers have
strategies put in place that they use to implement change and also at the same time carrying out
the mandate of their founder Walt Disney “The Transformational Leader.” Transformational
Leaders according to (Robbins 2013) pays attention to the concerns and needs of individual
followers; they change followers’ awareness of issues by helping them look at old problems in
new ways; and they excite and inspire followers to put out extra effort to achieve group goals.


Disney with its global presence, known in every country if not all has advantages and at the same
disadvantages. So far it is leading in the entertainment field although yes there are competitors like
Viacom (VIA), Time Warner (TWC), 21st Century Fox (FOX), CBS (CBS) and Comcast
(CMCSA). In order to survive in a market like this, a market that is dynamic and is prone to
changes each day I believe the biggest foundation for Disney is the input by its founders “the
transformation leader” like I mentioned earlier on. And although the targeted market for Disney is
the young at heart i.e. the children Disney also tries to cater for all ages with films/comedies like
That’s so Raven, Hannah Montana to mention just a few that can be viewed by people of all ages
or by the whole family. Disney has expanded its market into various counties now and its business
is diversified. Disney is the place to be, a place where organizational decision making is not rigid
rather its flexible, a place where there is a diversity of cultures and values but one goal, a place
where innovation is the backbone of the business, a place where team work is what drives the
company and there is open communication. And a place where Leaders are not authoritarian but
rather transformational. Walt Disney was also a charismatic leader, in fact The Disney Company
has had two charismatic leaders in its history: Walt Disney and Michael Eisner.

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Daft, Richard L. 2013. “Understanding the Theory and Design of Organizations. “Eleventh
Edition. Cengage. Canada.

Mark Langer. “Disney, Walt”. Available at American

National Biography. (Access on 30 December, 2015).

Northouse, P.G. (2013. “Leadership: Theory and Practice.” Los Angeles. Sage Publications.

Robbins, Stephen P. Judge Timothy A. 2013. “Organizational Behavior.” Fifteenth Edition.

Pearson. England.

The Walt Disney Company .Walt Disney website. Available at (Accessed on 30 December, 2015).

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