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The Four Seasons: Learning the French Way

Autor:   •  March 13, 2018  •  1,512 Words (7 Pages)  •  2 Views

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- Do the lessons from this case study apply to firms entering markets other than France? If not why? If so, how, and to what types of markets?

The lessons from this case apply to almost any industry but especially the service industry. When providing an elite service it is important for workers to understand the cultural norms in the company or country in which they are operating. Many businesses have a tendency to want to overstate their culture and act in a heavy handed way when opening in international markets and take an ethnocentric approach to expansion. However, one company alone cannot effect change on the culture of a nation. It must learn to adapt to the ways of doing business in each country or region. For example, Four Seasons actively decided not to push back against the 35 hour work week and other cultural French norms. This changed the local perspective of the company from that of a brutish North American operation, to a company with local sensitivities and contributed to their success in the new market. Four Seasons decided to blend an ethnocentric approach with a relativist approach. They paid service to local customs while at the same time brought in their special task force to make sure that service and quality were up to the standards that Four Seasons’ guests expect.

Many other companies have followed suit in other service industries. For example, when McDonald's began expanding to international markets, they found that they needed to adapt to the local style of food service. They could not fully rely on what had succeeded in America to guarantee success abroad. McDonalds decided to adhere to local customs and offer cuisine that was adapted to the local palette. Initially this created a number of supply chain issues however, over the long term it brought them great success. Now, almost every country has a slightly different menu from that offered in the U.S. Each country has its own tailored experience to that of the local customs and traditions however there is still something about every McDonald’s that is unmistakably part of the family of the McDonald’s business. They successfully blended the ethnocentric and relativist approach.

Adaptability is crucial when expanding to international markets. Four Seasons knew this and they found a middle ground where they could retain the important aspects of their corporate culture while at the same time recognizing areas where they could be flexible in order to better serve their customers. This lesson can be applied to almost any business, anywhere. By being flexible, customers will be more accepting of the new business leading to higher profits.

In conclusion, it is important to have a strong positive corporate culture that can be clearly demonstrated when moving into international markets. However, at the same time managers must be considerate of local customs and trends in order to effectively operate in new regions. Without any cultural sensitivity, customers will leave the business and the new venture will fail. These lessons apply to almost any situation, it is up to the manager to decide how to strike that balance between the corporate and local needs.


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