This case demonstrates how Four Seasons effectively creates, cultivates, and sustains its organizational culture throughout every place the company expands its business to. In 1999, Four Seasons took over the Hotel George V in France and reopened it as the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris (F. S. George V) leading the company to cope with cultural difference issues. Research showed that a strong organizational culture correlates with the firm’s high performance (Sorensen, 124).
Therefore, it is vital for managers, whose work deals with international aspects, to realize the importance of corporate culture and know how to help their companies maintain the culture.
In this paper, I will discuss about organizational culture of Four Seasons, French culture related to the hospitality industry, possible conflicts and resolution between Four Seasons and France employee regarding organizational culture. Four Seasons’ culture centered on providing customers with an exceptional service and giving its human resources high value.
In terms of service, the company blended uniform service standards with local ingredients resulting in a customized hotel that goes hand in hand with its host country.
To elaborate, the company ensured that every employee adopts the service standards and put them into practice. This is because sharing the same standard helps bond the employees to one another. Consequently, these bonds lead to creating corporate culture. The company put emphasize on its valuable human resources by introducing “The Golden Rule,” highlighting dignity and respect throughout the organization (Hallowell, Bowen, and Knoop, 4).
The company created a strong culture through selection and socialization procedure (Sorensen, 125).
First, the company recruited people based on their attitude fit to the organizational culture. For example, all potential job candidates at the F. S. George V were interviewed four times. Four Seasons was convinced that an employee with the right attitude could adapt to its culture. Second, the firm strengthened its culture through rules implementation and auditing performance helping to increase cultural persistence. Consequently, persistence contributed to maintaining the company’s culture.
Third, the firm sustained its belief through association with symbols (Sorensen, 126). For example, when his uniform gets dirty, an employee is supplied with a uniform to change. This symbolizes and reminds the employee of dignity according to “The Golden Rule. ” Differences between French culture and Four Seasons’ culture can create potential conflicts when both cultures collide. On one hand, French culture is indirect and subjective. French people are non confrontational. Face saving and dignity are vital in employee evaluation. French people are proud of their nationality.
They are emotional and take honor into account when providing services. The working style of French people is polychronic (Hallowell, Bowen, and Knoop, 7). They regard personal relationship more important than fixed appointments. On the other hand, Four Seasons’ North American culture is more direct and objective. An employee feels comfortable to talk openly to his manager. In turn, the manager can give the employee sincere feedback on his performance. It is vital to follow business schedule strictly. This section talks about cultural conflicts and resolutions.
Cultural differences between Four Seasons and France employee can bring about conflicts when the two collaborate. Especially, when the company has to embrace employees from the Hotel Gorge V. This means the hotel has to deal with an existing culture that is different from its own. The company’s confrontational style in managing people can be ineffective and considered insulting in France. French employee with monochronic culture may not know that attend meeting late is unacceptable for Americans with polychronic culture (Hallowell, Bowen, and Knoop, 7).
Also, French people are emotional which is good in providing exceptional service to impress guests. However, being too emotional can result in inconsistency of service. For example, a concierge may treat one guest better than the other according to his own preference. This disrupts harmony in organizational culture in that the service standards require employees to treat every guest equally. To solve cultural difference issues, the company gradually replaced the existing culture with a new one aiming at employees who were willing to change and adopt the company culture.
When the majority of employees embraced corporate culture, which prioritizes service standards, the company could resolve service inconsistency issue. The firm also hired Le Calvez, a truly French man as a F. S George V general manager. His experience in dealing with union in New York facilitated him in reducing gap between its employees and the union. Then, the hotel assigned the task force to the F. S. Gorge V to make sure that the opening will run smoothly. This task force helped building Four Season’s culture.
Also, it symbolized the company’s unity worldwide. Realizing that French employees are indirect and avoid confronting with their boss, Four Seasons used direct line to encourage them to speak up and voice their concerns comfortably. In conclusion, this paper presents Four Seasons’ culture, National culture of France, main conflicts when the two cultures collide, and the approaches Four Seasons took to resolve such conflicts. The company created and cultivated its corporate culture through communication, implementation, and symbolization.
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