Contrasting Management and Employment-Relations Strategies in European Airlines

Journal of Industrial Relations (Sydney), Vol. 51, No. 5, pp. 635-652, 2009

18 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2009 Last revised: 29 Nov 2010

See all articles by Greg J. Bamber

Greg J. Bamber

Monash University, Australia; Newcastle University, England

Jody Hoffer Gittell

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Thomas A. Kochan

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Andrew von Nordenflycht

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Beedie School of Business; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: November 1, 2009

Abstract

Abstract: We discuss deregulation (liberalization) and some of the international institutions that influence the management of people in airlines. As a point of departure, we summarize contrasting models from successful ‘new entrant’ airlines: Ryanair and Southwest. We consider examples of various categories of airlines in different ‘ideal types’ of institutional context: liberal-market economies and coordinated-market economies. These are two varieties of advanced capitalism. The former include the USA, Britain, Ireland (and Australia). The latter include the Germanic and Scandinavian countries. We classify airlines according to which strategies dominate their efforts at cost reduction. Alongside these differences in strategies, we analyse differences in two aspects of employment-relations strategies. First, employers can focus on controlling employee behaviour or seeking their commitment to the goals of the airline. Second, employers can seek to avoid, accommodate or partner with unions. We show that, in terms of employment relations, the variety of capitalism context helps to influence employers’ strategies, but airlines (and other enterprises) still have some scope for exercising strategic choice, in spite of their institutional and regulatory context.

Keywords: airlines, commitment, control, management strategies, partner, unions

JEL Classification: J53, L93, L22, R48, M12, M54, O57, P51

Suggested Citation

Bamber, Greg J. and Gittell, Jody Hoffer and Kochan, Thomas A. and von Nordenflycht, Andrew, Contrasting Management and Employment-Relations Strategies in European Airlines (November 1, 2009). Journal of Industrial Relations (Sydney), Vol. 51, No. 5, pp. 635-652, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1357769

Greg J. Bamber (Contact Author)

Monash University, Australia ( email )

Department of Management
27 Sir John Monash Drive, Monash University
Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3145
Australia
+61 3 9903 2615 (Phone)

Newcastle University, England ( email )

Business School
Newcastle University
NE1 7RU Newcastle upon Tyne
United Kingdom

Jody Hoffer Gittell

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 549110/MS 035
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454
United States

Thomas A. Kochan

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E52-583
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-6689 (Phone)
617-253-7696 (Fax)

Andrew Von Nordenflycht

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Beedie School of Business ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Colombia V5A 1S6
Canada

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

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