Organisational Power: British Airways Essay

Question:

Discuss about the Organisational Power for British Airways.

Answer:

Introduction

Power and British Airways

Brief discussion on the different sources of power and then argue the different power source in BA and why???

Other than managerial power, power too can be based on individuals and their responsibilities in the workplace. British Airways has a combination of the Expert & Referent powers when flying their aircrafts. Expert Power is needed where flying the airplane is concerned, pilots hold critical roles for British Airways so their specialist knowledge on flying gives them power therefore any advice or decisions made by the pilot will far outweigh any other crew member or British Airways department at that moment.

Reverent power is displayed through the air hostess, how well they adapt and fit with the training, look and culture of British airways. The likability and respect they tend to elude give them the power to work in first class and within the more premium sections of the airline. This power can quite easily be abused (Mindtools.com, 2016) therefore British Airways extensive training is beneficial to ensure behaviours are controlled.

On an organisation level of power British Airways use a wide range of rewards, the pay; training; and benefits employees receive are highly sought and great in comparison to competitors like EasyJet. British Airways rewards power is displayed through their: Management bonus schemes; Employee Reward Plan; Pension schemes; and Bravo schemes (Britishairways.com, 2016). All are implemented through the use of managerial power on either an individual or department level with the purpose of influencing performance levels. This type of power is problematic though as the value of the reward is dependent on the individual and rewards are often restrictive for mangers (Mindtools.com, 2016), making them ineffective. British Airway have clearly tried to overcome such problems by including talent management, employee development and recognition into each of their schemes. The combination seems to be working with them reporting an increase in performance levels since they rolled out local incentive plans in 2008 (Britishairways, 2016).

British Airway’s too relies on having good inter-departmental power. This is created to exercise power between departments or subunits, some organisations have focused more on using workplace politics to influence the behaviours of their employees. Politics involve using a number of suggestive or forceful influential tactics, where the meaning of each leads employees to act accordingly (Ellis and Dick, 1999). Other organisations have focused more on using structure so one department will have power over another depending on each departments resources/responsibilities to influence behaviours (Saunders, 1990).

This is the case for British Airways where individual and task organisational levels are concerned. They reconstructed their workforce in 2009 to be “more agile and leaner” with better lines of management for accountability and improved governance (Britishairways.com, 2016). This created a legitimate managerial power culture as their main focus is to use their levels of management to engage employees and influence their performance levels. This is beneficial however, legitimate power can be unstable as the scope of influence the manger has is determined by how other view what you have control over (Mindtools.com, 2016). For example: employee may do what asked when it falls within their job description but may not listen if it doesn’t… Nonetheless this distributed ‘individual’ level of power coincides with how British Airways organisational structure functions on a whole, as power is multi-dimensional and if used correctly with organisational politics it can create an organisation that is resilient which is British Airways strategy.

Power, Conflict and British Airways

We analysed the case in order to find the issues using power and the conflict theories in order to see ways organisations can use power without conflict.But if we talk about conflict theories- then conflict theories tell us that the society in which we live is in an everlasting conflict. And this is not due to any kind of trade relations or industrialization but because of the sole reason which is quite evident now-a-days even- because of limited resources. As claimed by Karl, conflict theory says that the present social order can only be maintained by power and domination leaving past processes of consensus and conformity. If we see in the case of British Airways was turned into one of the largest airline of UK- making the world see that UK can also have such big companies. (Doyle 1999 p. 20) And this is where power and domination comes- from the times of it being a very high loss making venture, it has been one of the best examples of an excellent change in management (Heller, 1992). But after this there was no looking back, the way they have been then dominating the airline industry, as in 2000- it was one of the most admired company in Europe (Financial Times, 18th March 2000). As per the use of their power, their expertise, on a broader picture, we can also look at the name of this organization and the political scenario of the Britain. Why British Airways symbolizes power because they have been maintaining their order in the organization with domination of other players in the vicinity even. They have not allowed other to take over and always strive for the top most position.As Karl suggested that in the conflict theory, those who have power and wealth will hold on to it with suppressing the powerless. This is directly applicable as in BA- they make sure that they be the best by maintaining their standards with the wealth they have and by not letting the other players rise above their position of power. Conflict theory also ascribes most of the fundamental developments in human history, such as democracy and civil rights, to capitalistic attempts to control the masses rather than to a desire for social order.
This theory even supports an important assumption that the present mainstream political institutions and cultural practices will always be on the side favouring leading groups and individuals. This can in turn mean the leading business groups which are always been favoured by the polity standards have this theory very much applicable because they also get favoured because of the stance they have. (Storey, J. 1985)
If we also see the kind of employee policies they have and when they reconstructed themselves to make the workforce more agile, there is a clear cut sign that with resources which are indeed limited- the skilled workforce, they are making them work according to their conditions in order to maintain their profitable position in the airlines industry. (Young, D. 1989)

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