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Managing culture at British Airways : hype, hope and reality.

Grugulis, I. and Wilkinson, A. (2002) 'Managing culture at British Airways : hype, hope and reality.', Long range planning., 35 (2). pp. 179-194.


Appearing to offer managers a universal panacea for all ills, and academics a gloriously simple explanatory framework, the notion of ‘cultural change' within organisations continues to excite attention nearly twenty years after the publication of In Search of Excellence. At a stroke "Magic wand" management change turns round unproductive workplaces and transforms reluctant employees into enthusiasts. But such simple stories with their happy endings are the stuff of a child's book of fairy tales: perhaps the reality is more complex. Have the inspirational accounts British Airways cultural change fallen into the same trap of over-simplifying management change by focussing on one, albeit dramatic, element? In drawing attention to the danger of allowing the study of the workplace to become ‘fictionalised', this article offers a corrective that lays out the bones of BA's impressive turn-round ‘story' and sets them against the background of the industry environment and the changes in the company's structural reality at the time. Lessons for managers include the condemnation of rhetorical flourishes unaccompanied by substantive change and of seeking to use people as a means to an end.

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Record Created:18 Jan 2011 12:35
Last Modified:27 Oct 2011 10:21

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