British Airways Culture

Topics: British Airways, British Overseas Airways Corporation, British European Airways Pages: 5 (808 words) Published: May 29, 2015

A Case Analysis of
Changing the Culture of British Airways1

Euronda Jefferson
MBAE 5313 Leading and Managing Change
East Texas Baptist University
May 2015

Case Synopsis
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. Key Ideas

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 because it was all focused inwardly on resolving industrial relations problems, on resolving organizational conflicts. How do you bring these very, very different cultures together (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). As long as the company was making a profit they did not care how the job was getting done. This was significant, not least because as long as the airline was returning profits, it was not easy to persuade the work force, or the management for that matter, the fundamental change was vital (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). The BEA culture was very much driven by building something that did not exist.” It seems like BEA was more concerned on getting the actual plane in the air and did not consider the costs going into it. For most who were involved with BEA and BOAC in the 1950s and 1960s, success had less to do with net income and more to do with flying the British flag (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). Your Critical Appraisal

British Airways should have concentrated, first, on changing the mindset of the people. In order to change an organization, the employees first have to be on board. British Airways needed to initiate clear and concise communications with employees, so they feel respected and appreciated, especially when it concerns cutting costs. Employees should be considered above everything else, when cutting budgets are considered. Colin Marshall displayed exceptional personal commitment to the regrowth of British Airways. He attended 95% of all of the Putting People First courses, setting out his vision for British Airways and participating in question and answer sessions with staff (Corke, 1986). This type of managerial behavior not only provides the opportunity to share the mission statement and values of the company, but it also encourages employees because they simply feel important. The mindset of employees needs to be changed drastically. British Airways, in times past, did not make the customer top priority and because employees became...

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.
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