Learning from a Drastic Failure: The Case of the Airbus A380 Program

32 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2012 Last revised: 16 Mar 2014

See all articles by Isabel Dörfler

Isabel Dörfler

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Center for Digital Technology and Management

Oliver Baumann

University of Southern Denmark - Strategic Organization Design Unit (SOD)

Date Written: February 20, 2014

Abstract

How do organizations learn from a drastic failure? We distinguish between ad-hoc and systematic reactions and discuss their effectiveness for dealing with two basic challenges: (1) identifying and solving the problems that caused the failure; and (2) changing the organization accordingly. We apply this conceptual perspective to illustrate the dynamics of learning from the drastic failure that occurred during the development of the Airbus A380 “superjumbo.” Our findings echo extant observations that efforts to redesign organizational behavior in an ad-hoc manner are often insufficient. Instead, the organizational system must provide a scaffolding that allows experiencing a critical event in a rich and systematic manner. When seen from a dynamic perspective, however, we find that even imperfect ad-hoc efforts may play a vital role. By enforcing changes, providing stability, and raising awareness, they can act as a helpful prelude to more systematic problem solving and change.

Keywords: Organizational learning, organizational change, problem solving, innovation, complex product systems, aircraft industry

JEL Classification: D22, L62, M10, O32

Suggested Citation

Dörfler, Isabel and Baumann, Oliver, Learning from a Drastic Failure: The Case of the Airbus A380 Program (February 20, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2123297 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2123297

Isabel Dörfler

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Center for Digital Technology and Management ( email )

Munich
Germany

Oliver Baumann (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark - Strategic Organization Design Unit (SOD) ( email )

Campusvej 55
Odense, DK-5230 M
Denmark
+45-6550-4433 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sdu.dk/staff/oliv.aspx

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
467
Abstract Views
2,256
rank
71,403
PlumX Metrics