For Ubisoft, entering in 18 business markets signified a large adaptability power to adjusting to different business perceptions and conditions. Accountancy, fiscal and legal system, employment procedures and regulations are just several aspects that the company had to take into consideration when entering each new market. This increased its flexibility and in a competitive industry as the one in which Ubisoft activates, flexibility is a must. However, Ubisoft is a corporation, present in 18 countries, and having 26 production studios. As a corporation it needs to settle specific guidelines, in order to facilitate a shared business vision, shared values and corporate principles. As all the subsidiaries of the company constitute Ubisoft as a whole, together they create a group, and as a business philosophy, there must be followed specific working procedures and corporate policies.
The global corporate business environment has set specific communication problems for Ubisoft: (1) aligning the reporting system, the administrative procedures and the HR processes, in order to have an integrated communication within the group; (2) improve the cultural communication between employees from different countries, for developing an inclusive working environment, and in the same time, for benefiting of a diverse workforce, which would definitely contribute to a more intense creative force, which would translate into more productivity for the company, hence an increased profitability.
The paper identifies that glocalization is the key for solving the administrative communication and that the cultural communication should be treated through non – conventional promotion of the cultures of the countries in which Ubisoft develops its activity. Through measurable objectives and a formative evaluation method, the paper offers solutions for solving the communication problems that challenges its activity.
1. Identity the organization
Working at Ubisoft has represented a real opportunity to have access to various useful tools and resources that formed my corporate behavior and contributed to improving my social interaction skills, or my multitasking abilities. The transient working rhythm from this multinational company activating in gaming industry, as one of the leaders of this market, with 26 production studios, in 18 countries and more than 6.900 employees all over the world (Ubisoft corporate, official website) has brought me closer to understanding the global business and global competition, and in the same time of perceiving the multinational working environment, sharing culture, ideas and business models.
This already classical gaming company, founded in 1986 in France represents a business model for many other enterprises activating in this segment or in any other industry, worldwide, as it comes with an extensive experience of doing business at an international level for 27 years. In this time, the company gathered both talented and strategic people that contributed to its growing business.
2. Describe the problem (who, what, when, how and why)
Nonetheless, precisely the fact that it activates at the global level, applying business procedures and policies within all its subsidiaries is what generates particular communication challenges for the company. As specified above, the company activates in 18 countries and it owns 26 production studios. Each country in which the company is doing business complies to different social, legal, economic, political, environmental or technological (SLEPT) specificities. Each time when companies enter a new market (a new country), they evaluate the SLEPT factors and adjust their business to the local particularities, for complying with the local aspects (McDonald, Ward & Smith 188).
The challenge is here. In a global business world, Ubisoft deals with and complies to different SLEPT all over the world. This implies that it has localized its business to all the regions/countries in which it activates. However, as an identified business need shows that the company needs to apply certain corporate policies to all its subsidiaries, this translates into a global need of adjusting all the working points from the 18 countries in which it activates, to a common business vision.
Although the company encourages the cultural exchange, through experience visits from one country to another, internships and so on, the fact that it continuously sets corporate policies to be adopted in all its offices is somehow contradictory. This produces confusion among the team members and loosens the communication among offices. In particular the communication between individual offices and the headquarter is mostly affected.
3. Describe and justify the solution
The solution to the communication problems that might create frictions in the corporate model that Ubisoft designed is to apply the glocalization process to each of its subsidiary. This is the paradox of the 21st century, the phenomena that has been named the glocalization – “a hybrid of globalization and localization” (Mendis 2).
The glocalization implies a process meant to support the local communities or countries to develop from various perspectives, by embracing external influences and cultures, which might enrich and modernize the home culture. (Mendis 2, 3).
The same approach is applicable to the business world. Here, there are interests from both parties, the external one that could generate change, and the homeland one, the one that needs to absorb the change in order to modernize its system, for reaching a common agreement that would please both parties. Procedural differences appear in the administrative tasks among offices: reports, employment benefits, working hours, training opportunities vary from office to office.
Practically, each subsidiary should be approached, considering the local aspects that the company followed when it launched the business in that specific country. The corporate policies, which should be applied to all Ubisoft subsidiaries, should be adjusted to the local social, legal, economic, political, environmental or technological specificities. Taking for instance Canada, the country in which Ubisoft has the largest production workforce and where the most popular games were developed (Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia or Tom Clancy franchise), the local government encouraged the company to enter this country, and it created an insensitive offer to attract the video game producer to Montreal: a contribution of $15.000, respectively $10.000 per employee hired within a five years period. For Ubisoft choosing Canada was almost a natural decision, considering this offer and the fact that this is a French speaking country (Tremblay & Rousseau, 307 - 310).
Referring to the glocalization phenomena, since 1997 (when the company launched there) to present, the company changed Montreal, the city in which it was first inaugurated in Canada, employing over 2.100 people, mostly engaged in creation. The company was set in a low rent area, but its development quickly influenced the rapid appreciation of the area, becoming a creative and artistic center. The city also changed from an economic perspective, as the landscape transformed radically, bringing new businesses nearby, to serve the big number of employees working in Ubisoft, who also have good wages. Moreover, as a big industry player has chosen Montreal as a strong point of its network, other competitive companies oriented towards this market, creating new working opportunities and new challenges to the global business environment (Tremblay & Rousseau, 310).
The communication ruptures between the subsidiaries of the group intervene because of the cultural background. For enhancing the communication between offices and countries and for stimulating its global talents, one business strategy of the company was to develop co-production games. Like this, the creative power would gather not from one single studio source, but from various studious, with different views and perceptions. Here is how it pays off to have a diverse workforce, with different cultural background.
However, there are also differences from the working style perspective. While some nations are culturally pro – active, others are more oriented to critical thinking and while some team members have problems when it comes to active listening, others face difficulties in complying with assertive listening (participative observation).
The cultural differences might represent boundaries in an efficient communication and this is where internship or cultural exchanges program are implemented, for improving the communication between teams belonging to different countries. However, these are isolated solutions, as a limited number of employees have the opportunity benefit of these programs (depending on their performances) and to share what they have learned with their local team workers. Therefore, a more ample plan should be implemented for improving the communication between employees working together from different countries.
4. Outline specific and measurable objectives for the solution selected
Objective 1 – Align the administrative communication
Within three months, the administrative aspects related to reporting of different legal, economic, financial, environmental aspects or to HR (training specificities and employment benefits) will be evaluated in each office by appointed persons, who will present the exact situation from each office. For other three months, there will be planned a common strategy to be applied for the company’s subsidiaries, as a test. The methods included in the strategy will be applied to all the subsidiaries for other three months and there will be registered the progress or the points in which the methods are not consistent with the expected result (creating a unified administrative and HR communication process). Based on the actual results, the strategy will be re-thought, with specific elements treated differently for each subsidiary, without compromising the initial objective, however, of aligning the communication process.
Objective 2 – Strengthen the cultural communication
On the communication between teams working together, a team manager should be in charge will establishing a common communication line for the teams working together in different projects. The task will be to enhance a common thinking and action mode, common and global values and objectives, beyond the local vision of each team member. This should strengthen the appreciation among team workers and would generate an understanding of the cultural backgrounds of the other team members. This is a complex process, but should be applied quickly for an increased efficiency, therefore no more than 5 months should be dedicated to this activity.
5. Present a timetable and budget for implementing the solution
Analyze the reporting system and the HR
practices of each studio
Plan a common strategy
Test the methods of the proposed strategy
Evaluate the results
Re-think the strategy based on the
Plan a new strategy, considering the
specificities of each office
Implement the new strategy, while
focusing on the objective: common guidelines for administrative and HR procedures
Establishing a team manager for
coordinating the cultural communication project
Analyze the differences between teams
Identify the reactions of team members in
different working stages
Establish the communication and reaction patterns of team members, depending on their nationality
Based on the discovered results, propose an action plan for changing attitudes and behaviors , with the purpose of determining the team members to understand and be open minded about other cultures
Actual methods: games, online interaction sessions, internships, study visits, teambuildings, online brainstormings, etc.
Creating a common reporting Program
Visits through all studios for evaluating
and implementing the program (plane ticket, accommodation, diurnal)
Total Objective 1
Team manager & implementation team
Visits through all 26 studios
Methods (internships, study visits, teambuildings)
Total Objective 2
General Total Communication Budget
6. Present a method for evaluating the success of the solution
For both measurable objectives set, the evaluation method that will be used is the formative evaluation, which assesses the institutional development, by continuously collecting feedback and adapting the program implementation to the results obtained, which implies revising the program when needed (“Outcomes Assessment”, 2011).
This method is suited for the two communication objectives identified, as these objectives contribute to the institutional development of Ubisoft. Moreover, the implementation of the communication programs imply a gradual evolution, therefore, the formative evaluation perfectly answers this approach.
McDonald, Malcom, Smith, Brian & Ward, Keith, Marketing Due Diligence. Reconnecting Strategy to Share Price. Oxford, Elsevier. 2007. Print.
Mendis, Patrick, Glocalization: The Human Side of Globalization as if the Washington Consensus Mattered. Morrisville, Lulu Press. 2007. Print.
Outcomes Assessment for School and Program Effectiveness: Linking Planning and Evaluation to Mission, Goals and Objectives. Accreditation Criteria for Public Health Programs. Washington, Council of Education for Public Health. 2011. Print.
Tremblay, Diane – Gabrielle & Rouseau, Serge, The Montreal Multimedia Sector: a Cluster, a New Mode of Governance or a Simple Co-location?. Montreal, Universite du Quebec a Montreal. 2004. Print.
Ubisoftgroup, Ubisoft Group, About Ubisoft. Ubisoft. Retrieved on 1st October 2012, from https://www.ubisoftgroup.com/en-us/about_ubisoft/facts_and_figures.aspx. N.d. Web.