Disney animated films may negatively influence children’s perception of work
BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y., March 1, 2018 – Today, the Academy of Management, the largest global association devoted to management and organization research, published a new study that found an overwhelming number of animated Disney movies portray managers, leaders and everyday work life in a negative fashion. The authors believe the influence of Disney films likely shapes the way children view the working world long before they enter the workforce.
The study published by the Academy of Management Learning & Education, “Organizational Readiness: Culturally Mediated Learning through Disney Animation,” was written by professors Martyn Griffin of Leeds University, Mark Learmonth of Durham University and Nick Piper of Leeds University. Drawing from the research findings, the coauthors conclude that Disney animations are likely to significantly shape children’s learning about organizations. An overwhelming number of the films carried several negative workplace related themes. These themes can drive young employees, especially those in their first jobs, to have negative ideas about the workplace.
The authors analyzed 56 feature-length animated films, from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937 to “Moana” in 2016. They then identified which workplace-related themes were portrayed by each film. The themes included:∙
- Subjection to dangerous, dirty or unfulfilling work
- Manipulation and/or deception by managers or overseers
- Staying positive in the face of adversity and abuse
- Being rescued and returned to a non-working environment
- Leaving unrewarding work and renewing identity in a new working role
“Our research suggests that one of the most powerful cultural influences in western society, Disney animated films, have created negative views about workplace managers among generations of children for nearly 80 years,” said Griffin. “While common knowledge might suggest that new entrants to the workforce are blank slates ready to be molded by their organizations, our research shows that managers and organizations will need to take into account the ideas about organizational life that began as soon as they were old enough to watch their first Disney movie.”
The research, “Organizational Readiness: Culturally Mediated Learning through Disney Animation,” can be found in the March issue of the Academy of Management Learning & Education.