A Case Analysis of
Changing the Culture of British Airways1
MBAE 5313 Leading and Managing Change
East Texas Baptist University
In the wake of an aging fleet, increasing competition, and high staffing costs, numerous issues threatened to bankrupt British Airways, including improving the competitive advantage, making customer service important the employees, and changing the consumer perception of the company.
British Airways began as two distinct airways. In August 1971, the Civil Aviation Act became law, setting the stage for the British Airways Board to assume control of two-state run airlines, British European Airways and British Overseas Airways Corporation, under the name British Airways (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). Because the employees were mostly prior military, that culture infiltrated the atmosphere of both airways, making the consumer needs take a back seat. Making a profit was not more important than flying the British Flag. The problems became dangerous when Britain’s worst recession in fifty years reduced passenger numbers and raised fuel costs substantially (Jick & Peiperl, 2011).
British Airways was in desperate need of a shift in culture. A lack of economies of scale and strong residual loyalties upon the merger further complicated the historical disregard for efficiency by BEA and BOAC (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). Service and productivity was extremely pitiable. An immediate and effective change was in order. British Airways had zero consumer emphasis and employees did not want to admit they worked there. British Airways also had a difficult time giving recognition to their employees. It seems that an overhaul, from top to bottom was in order.
The merge brought together two companies with very different values. Unity did not exist in management. There wasn’t enough management time devoted to managing the changing environment
References: Corke, A. (1986). British Airways: The Path to Profitability. London: Frances Pinter. Jick, T. D., & Peiperl, M. A. (2011). Managing Change: Cases and Concepts (3rd ed., pp. 24-36). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.