Virgin Blue Airlines

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Virgin stands for value for money, quality, innovation, fun and a sense of competitive challenge (Virgin, 2007). The enigmatic Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin conglomerate has always believed in this philosophy applying them to both life and work. Therefore, it not a feat to see that this philosophy also applies to the ‘no frills’ airline, Virgin Blue.

Virgin Blue Airlines is Australia’s second biggest domestic airline, and caters to customers who are after an economical, yet reliable airline. Based in Brisbane, Australia; Virgin Blue was launched on August 3, 2000. Having only starting with two aircrafts offering 7 day return flights to Brisbane and Sydney, it has since expanded to all major Australian cities and favoured holiday destinations (Virgin, 2007). Currently, Virgin Blue employs over 3800 employees from all around Australia (Virgin Blue, 2007). Virgin Blue’s management philosophy as stated by its CEO, Brett Godfrey is very simple: in empowering and supporting employees and encouraging them to think ‘outside the box,’ that is truly how you can make a difference (Management Today, 2005). Through understanding this philosophy, it is easy to understand why at the end of last year, Virgin Blue Airlines was able to make an $84.5 million profit (Thomas, 2006).

However, no matter how stable the internal influences are within an organisation; external influences will always be present. Like every other organisation, Virgin Blue has learnt first hand how external influences can influence organisational behaviour. These external influences include the environment, economic factors, diversity, technology and its social responsibility.

The environment, especially now, has always played a large part in the running of a company, even more so with airlines. Thus, as a result Virgin Blue Airlines has adopted the ‘Carbon Offset Program,’ which sets to “neutralise emissions, save energy, avoid emissions being generated or absorb or store emissions” (March 21, Herald Sun). In placing this objective, Virgin is encouraging its customers to purchase from a company that is doing its little bit to counter the impact of climate change. Without team dynamics and the process of learning a new culture, this program would never have come into fruition. It is hard enough learning new concepts as individuals however it gets even tougher when learning is thrust upon a whole organisation. It has been thought “that the bridge from individual to collective is generally held to be that organisational learning involves sharing of knowledge, values and assumptions” (Findlay, McKinlay, Marks and Thompson, 2000, p. 485). In creating this new ‘green’ culture, Virgin Blue is not only helping the environment, but it is also aiding the individuals of the organisation in their own personal development. Thus, with the new ‘Carbon Offset Program’ the Virgin Blue organisation has had to undergo new processes so that all employees will settle into the new culture that has been created. This brings a positive effect to the organisation as the continuous transformation not only benefits individuals (personal development), but also the organisation itself, as it allows the renewal of norms and practices (Findlay, McKinlay, Marks and Thompson, 2000). Therefore, Virgin Blue can be classified as a learning organisation, in that it is continually expanding their abilities to shape their future (Wiesner and Millett, 2001). The organisational behaviour at Virgin Blue is adapting to the changes that the environment is bringing in order to preserve their future. “Case studies have shown that moving to a more constructive culture creates more open communication, improved staff motivation and effectiveness, increased initiative taking and more pleasant workplaces, and thus, carrying through to company performance” (Management, 2007). In implementing the ‘Carbon Off-Set’ program, Virgin Blue is creating a healthy culture that in effect allows employees to...
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