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CASE STUDY: British Airways - case study of 25 years in business
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DescriptionCASE STUDY: British Airways - case study of 25 years in business
AC 219: Employee Relations
CASE STUDY: British Airways
The enclosed case study on British Airways documents changes that have taken place in the company and airline industry over the past 25 years. The choice of case reflects a number of diverse strands within the economy and employee relations in Britain over this period. A one-time public sector company, formed through merger, privatised in the 1980s and seen by many commentators as one of the great successes of the privatisation era, starts to experience difficulties in the 1990s as trading conditions become less favourable. The combined impact of recession and intensified competition as a result of European de-regulation has led to important shifts in business strategy with contrasting implications for its staff, an approach that has, with some modifications, continued until the present day.
The case focuses specifically on changes in employment relations since privatisation in 1984, and when reading it, as well as the specifics of the BA situation, you are encouraged to think about the extent to which the story of BA mirrors developments in employment relations within the British economy more generally over this period. It is also important to focus on the interactions between BA’s wider operating environment, its business strategy and its evolving approaches to employee relations. It therefore follows that you should familiarise yourselves both with the case context and (if you have not done so already) with broader developments in employee relations over the period since the late 1970s.
The case draws on a number of sources which are acknowledged at the end of the case. In particular the work draws upon research undertaken by Peter Turnbull (including the excerpt from Blyton and Turnbull 2004) on the airline industry more generally. The recent material owes much to Newspaper reports which can be accessed via relevant websites (The Guardian in particular) and from BA annual reports.
At the end of the case there are some questions to reflect upon for the Class.
British Airways Case
British Airways was formed in the 1970s as the result of a merger between BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) and BEA (British European Airways). Although the companies strengths appeared to complement one another the merger was hardly an unqualified success as two companies with very different traditions and cultures were never fully integrated into a coherent whole. The end result was a company with a ‘bureaucratic and militaristic’ culture, in public ownership, and which by the late 1970s was experiencing some severe problems.
Customer perception of BA was generally poor, and the epithet ‘Bloody Awful’ often used as a description of what the initials stood for. Furthermore, it faced pressure from low-cost ...
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