British Airways is the world’s biggest international airline, carrying more passengers from one country to another than any of its competitors. Also, one of the world’s longest established airlines; it has always been regarded as an industry-leader. British Airways’ worldwide route network covers some 566 destinations in 133 countries.
The airline’s two main operating bases are London’s two main airports, Heathrow (the world’s biggest international airport) and Gatwick.While British Airways is the world’s largest international airline, because its US competitors carry so many passengers on domestic flights, it is the fifth biggest in overall passenger carryings (in terms of revenue passenger kilometres). [Online: 1] The report will initially analyse the BA group’s culture in terms of ‘basic assumptions’, ‘values’ and ‘norms of behaviour’ and attempt to specify those areas of culture that could perhaps enhance the company’s performance as the company progresses with the proposals to change management style and structure.It will then detail the approach to the change management strategy by looking into the immediate short term changes and then the changes in the longer term.
In the final section of the report, an action plan will be outlaid for implementation of the change management strategy. 2. 0 British Airways corporate culture BA has been traditionally designed around the armed forces with many of the people originally from military moved to civil aviation. The management style was formal and inflexible and ran on strict authoritarian lines.
It was largely fostered by the values of the Chief Executive Officer.During these times the mission of the company was “to be an efficient airline” and very little attention was paid to the customers as reinforced by a senior customer manager, “Before 1983, we were quite “arrogant”, we tended to know what was best for the customers. It was our belief that the customers didn’t know what was the best for themselves.
” (Handout – British Airways – The World’s Favourite Airline? ). With the changes in the air transport market place, coupled with the external threats of government to privatise it and the deregulation of the industry worldwide BA changed over to a new set of corporate culture and values.The result was a transformation of BA’s culture from one which was bureaucratic and militaristic to one that may now be described as service-oriented and market driven. The success of this cultural is evident in terms of the company’s healthy share price and cargo and passenger revenues.
The new values of the company were now: Safe and Secure Honest and Responsible Innovative and Team-spirited Global and Caring A good neighbour According to Handy, there are four main types of culture related to a particular form of organisational structure:Power culture: This is frequently found in small entrepreneurial organisations such as some property, trading and financing companies. Such a culture is associated with a web structure with one or more powerful figures at the centre, wielding control. Person culture: This is a rare culture in which an individuals’ wishes are the central focus and has a minimalistic structure, the main purpose being to assist those individuals who choose to work together. Role culture: This is more suited to bureaucracies and organisations with mechanistic, rigid structures and narrow jobs.Such cultures stress the importance of procedures and rules, hierarchical position and authority, security and predictability. In essence, role cultures create situations in which those in the organisation stick rigidly to their job description, and any unforeseen events are referred to the next layer up in the hierarchy. Task culture: This is a job-oriented and a more flexible culture. It is appropriate to organically structured organisations where flexibility and team-working is encouraged.
Here, speed of reaction, integration and creativity are more important than adherence to particular procedures or rules. (Burnes 2000, p. 163) As seen in the description and available evidence discussed previously it can be seen that BA had a typical Role based culture as it was a bureaucratic organisation with hierarchical structure and narrow roles of managers. 2. 1 Managing culture According to Brown, “The effective management of culture requires the ability both to introduce change and to maintain the status quo. ” (1998, p.
161).It has been generally thought that culture is a static phenomenon which managers can alter through various intervention strategies. But in reality, cultures are highly dynamic entities which are prone to change as a result of internal and external prompts. As according to Gersen et. al, “… what is important is that culture should be adaptive and appropriate to the environment in which the company has to operate at a particular moment in time.
” (Cheetham, Lecture 5 in Norway, 2003). Some of the areas that are proposed to be managed to enhance the company’s performance are:Managerial values. Leadership Style. Organisational structure. Size. Nature of the work.
It is thought that by managing the above variables the organisation can significantly enhance its performance and shift from a role based culture to a task based culture, where the structure is flatter, instead of a traditional hierarchical type as it will result in a quicker response time, more flexibility and more integration. But there are some opposing thoughts to managing cultural change in an organisation.As noted by Ogbonna in his article titled ‘Managing Organisational culture: Fantasy or Reality? ‘ he claims, “Culture as such cannot be changed (or it takes so long it’s barely noticeable)” and goes on to conclude that, “.
.. there is no convincing conceptual model which clearly demonstrates how change of deeper level values should be attained. Instead we are presented with haphazard treatment of cultural change which equates it to behavioural change, or they simply assume that in the long run it will lead to change in culture.” This is an important observation as it considers the cultural change in relation to the behavioural change and demonstrates effectively the complexity of issues involved while managing cultural change.
3. 0 Approach to change There is a considerable debate regarding the most appropriate approach, despite the large body of literature devoted to the topic of change management, and the many tools and techniques available to change agents. But since change is an imperative for any organisation to sustain in a competitive environment, this report will suggest a planned approach to organisational change.This term was first coined by Kurt Lewin to distinguish change that was consciously embarked upon and planned by an organisation. (Burnes 2000, p. 264) The planned approach to change is most closely associated with the practice of Organisation Development (OD) and indeed lies at its core. Some of the apparent values that have emerged from the application of this approach, as noted by Hurley et al (1992) in a survey of OD practitioners were: Empowering employees to act Creating openness in communications Facilitating ownership of the change process and its outcomes;The promotion of a culture of collaboration The promotion of continuous learning.
(Burnes 2000, p. 265) These are the values that BA needs to incorporate in its culture of change to successfully implement and foster the new culture. The next section will look into approach of immediate short term changes BA needs to implement.
3. 1 The Short term Approach In keeping with the planned approach, the short term approach needs to be in line with the over all change approach. Since planned change is an iterative, cyclical, process involving diagnosis, action and evaluation, and further action and evaluation.