Case Study British Airways Swipe Card Debacle

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Abstract
In the case study, The British Airways Swipe Card Debacle, British Airways (BA) introduced ‘a system for electronic clocking in that would record when they [employees] started and finished work for the day… which was a unilateral decision by BA to introduce the swipe card, and a lack of adequate consultation with affected staff” (Palmer, Dunford, Akin, 2009, pp. 239 & 240). As a result, the BA staff held a twenty-four hour wildcat strike which caused BA to cancel its services, leaving over 10,000 passengers stranded. The lack of change management is apparent and ways of avoiding a repeat of this situation are addressed.

British Airways Swipe Card Debacle
Swipe cards. WOW! I wonder why when an organization introduces swipe cards the employees go berserk. It happened at my company. If an employee is not doing anything wrong why would they object to the use of swipe cards? In the case of my organization, it was implemented at first as identification cards, the program grew to restrict access to certain areas and then to reduce absenteeism/tardiness. We are a secure campus and the introduction of identification cards was to restrict patients from walking in and not signing in and non-patients from walking in and wandering around the buildings. We experienced some thefts and it was determined that keeping track of who was in the building would reduce the potential. The restricted areas consisted mostly of materials management and the organization wished to restrict the employees who were able to access these areas due to inventory inconsistencies. Actually, these two issues were not a bother to the employees. When the swipe cards became a way of timekeeping tracking, a segment of the employees were up in arms. It was this segment of employees who usually violated coming to work on time. Comments included but were not limited to: “now Big Brother is keeping tabs on us” and “they want an excuse to fire us.” My personal ethics are, you come to work, you come to work on time, and you do not steal.

In the case study, The British Airways Swipe Card Debacle, British Airways (BA) introduced ‘a system for electronic clocking in that would record when they [employees] started and finished work for the day… which was a unilateral decision by BA to introduce the swipe card, and a lack of adequate consultation with affected staff” (Palmer, Dunford, Akin, 2009, pp. 239 & 240). As a result, the BA staff held a twenty-four hour wildcat strike which caused BA to cancel its services, leaving over 10,000 passengers stranded. Key Issues to Understand the Strike

In the matter of organization development, the lack of regard concerning BA personnel such as the non-implementation of clocking-in mechanisms is apparent. The BA management failed to circulate the information about the new policy implementation on swipe cards. “People are not so much resistant to change as they are resistant to being controlled” (Zigarmi & Hoekstra, 2008, p. 8). The disruption that BA had faced certainly resulted from a deep-rooted conviction by the staff that the BA administration fell short to run the company in an effective and economical system. Concerning sense-making, BA’s implementation of the swipe cards is a rational policy and especially beneficial for restricted areas in order to avoid trespassers or illegal entries. “Different groups will apply their own retrospective sense-making in order to understand emerging organizational events’ (Palmer, et al, 2009, p, 207).

In change management, the BA administration failed to get the staff to buy-in. The decision was made to implement the swipe cards without taking into consideration the concerns of the staff. Employees “want to know why the change initiative will benefit them or what they will lose” (Zigarmi & Hoekstra, 2008, p. 3). The BA Administration did not create an atmosphere of trust nor were they concerned at how the change would affect the employees....
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