Emirates Airlines and Its Organizational Culture

Introduction

Emirates Airlines is a Dubai-based international airline that is famous for its network of worldwide destinations, commitment to international competition, influence on the economic development of the UAE, and first-class services. Despite the company’s focus on quality customer service and management, as well as extensive training of employees and development of diverse, ethical organizational culture, unresolved issues pertaining to HRM and company’s employees remain unaddressed by the company’s executives.

High turnover rates, disappointment with the company, and the occupation, injustice, and incompetence are among the most crucial HRM issues that adversely influence the company and its image in the employment market. The authors of the proposal aim to target and examine these problems using the qualitative method of research.

Literature Review

Hendry (2012) points out that HRM emphasizes the importance of human resources to an organization, and, at the same time, it addresses employment practices and how they can be applied to organizational strategies. HRM is based on a particular philosophy that should (ideally) secure employees’ commitment to the organization and motivation to provide quality performance. In this case, management style and organization performance also become crucial parts of HRM that define further working processes at the organization.

Jiang, Lepak, Hu, and Baer (2012) point out that HRM can positively relate to financial performance by encouraging “desired employee behaviors and by building a valuable human capital pool” (p. 1276). It should also be noted that direct relationships between skill-enhancing HR practices and motivation-enhancing HR practices are also related to financial outcomes.

Buller and McEvoy (2012) argue that organizational culture is an important determinant of performance if employees at all levels share values and beliefs that align with the company’s corporate strategies and strategic goals. HRM is directly related to organizational culture because it shapes accepted and unaccepted cultural norms and practices by the policies introduced to employees. If a company is unable to learn from its past mistakes and adapt to present and changing conditions, it is unlikely that its performance will improve significantly over the years. Therefore, the organization can only function effectively if it is capable of creating and transforming collected knowledge into practice.

Individual perception of HRM practices is also important. As Alfes, Shantz, Truss, and Soane (2013) notice, if employees’ perception of implemented HRM practices is positive, their levels of engagement in a working process are also more likely to grow. If employees are supported by the organization and have trustful, respectful relationships with their line manager, their engagement grows actively as well.

Wiewiora, Trigunarsyah, Murphy, and Coffey (2013) discuss how organizational culture affects the willingness to share knowledge. According to them, a market culture has a negative impact on knowledge sharing among employees, whereas clan-type culture has a positive influence on it (Wiewiora et al., 2013). Organizational cultures that emphasize collaboration, employee involvement, and teamwork are more likely to encourage employees to work on problems in teams and collaborate when addressing organizational issues.

Such teams viewed project pitfalls as opportunities for improvement rather than failures. At the same time, demanding leaders and competitiveness had a negative impact on knowledge sharing, thus leading to knowledge hoarding. Knowledge hoarding happened because employees were convinced that it could help them earn a promotion or increase their power. The authors conclude that organizations that emphasize competition and achievement displayed dysfunctional inter-project sharing, which adversely influenced the team (Wiewiora et al., 2013).

Since Emirates Airlines is a multinational company, leadership in diverse organizations should be discussed as well. De Brito Neto (2015) examines transformational and positive leadership as possible frameworks that can be implemented in a multinational company. While transformational leadership focuses on intellectual stimulation and individual attention of leaders to their followers, positive leadership pays more attention to hope as a motivational condition, efficacy, and optimism that is defined as positive expectancy.

A quality performance is only possible if an effective leadership framework is engaged as well; without effective leadership, followers are unable to maintain the high competitiveness of the organization, and its image, together with customer satisfaction, is at risk. As De Brito Neto (2015) accurately pinpoints, the aviation industry “is a large system formed by highly active, functional and integrated subsystems” that works in a global environment and, thereby, stimulates globalization by transferring passengers and hiring employees with various cultural backgrounds from different corners of the planet (p. 40).

Therefore, leaders that can navigate across cultures and inspire their followers are of utter importance for globalized organizations. If a leadership style is not effective or even harmful to employees, it will eventually have an adverse impact on the company as a whole by interfering with its accepted cultural and ethical practices, resulting in dismissals and resignations.

Kozlowski (2012) describes a concept somewhat similar to organizational culture but more recent: organizational climate. Organizational climate is a construct that is not built by the company but rather consists of shared employees perceptions of the attributes of the organizational environment. Transformational leadership is viewed as one of the factors that can influence organizational climate via leader-followers interactions.

Transformational leadership can be characterized as a rich two-way interpersonal communication, and its main influence on organizational climate is possible because it articulates the long-term goals and objectives of the organization with ongoing two-way communication. Kozlowski’s (2012) arguments support the discussed opinion that leadership is an important part of HRM and organizational culture that has the potential to both create and resolve issues related to human resources.

As can be seen, the literature on HRM, leadership, and organization culture indicates that all three factors are relevant determinants of possible issues related to employee management and motivation. The ineffectiveness of HRM can be explained through organizational culture and leadership, whereas decreased employee commitment and/or motivation can also be tied to inadequate leadership strategies or unsuitable corporate culture.

Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework is based on such definitions as organizational culture, human resource management, and employee satisfaction. The importance of human resources in a resource-based view of organizations is stressed by Buller and McAvoy (2012), who point out that the competitive advantage of the firm and the firm itself is defined by the resources it controls. Some firm-specific resources such as organizational culture, history, learning, etc. are particularly critical to the competitive advantage because they are rare and difficult to replicate.

Organizational culture is described by Kozlowski (2012) as a system that relies on norms, behavior, and values, as well as other factors (e.g., stories and assumptions). Ding, Lu, Song, and Lu (2012) define employee satisfaction as a happy emotional state that is produced by the working process and through which employees realize or improve one’s value; employee satisfaction also reflects their physical and psychological feelings towards their occupation.

Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework includes all definitions discussed above, but the theory that emerges from the theoretical framework is the following: organizational culture and human resource management can influence employee satisfaction either adversely or positively depending on their efficiency, ethics, and appropriateness.

Objectives and Research Questions

The objectives of the study are to understand the relationships between organizational culture, HRM, and employee satisfaction at Emirates Airlines and evaluate whether organizational culture and HRM have a positive or a negative impact on employee satisfaction.

  • RQ 1: Are there any relationships between organizational culture, HRM, and employee satisfaction?
  • RQ 2: How do organizational culture and HRM influence employee satisfaction at Emirates Airlines?
    • H1: There is a relationship between organizational culture, HRM, and employee satisfaction.
    • H2: Organizational culture and HRM influence employee satisfaction positively.
    • H3: Organizational culture and HRM influence employee satisfaction negatively.

Study Design

The study design is an observational cross-sectional study, which will collect data via questionnaires and/or interviews with a selected non-randomized sample of employees who are currently working or have worked for Emirates Airlines. Cross-sectional studies have individual-level observational study design and are inexpensive and easy to conduct (Pandis, 2014). In a cross-sectional study, the researcher does not intervene in the company’s normal function but rather observes the process and collects data from a cross-section of a specific population (i.e., employees) (Sedgwick, 2014).

An important characteristic of a cross-sectional study is that all measurements of sample members are taken at a specific point in time, despite the fact that the recruitment might take more time than the measurement. A cross-sectional study cannot be longitudinal because participants are not observed at various time points, which might indicate a developing trend. This cross-sectional study does not include any follow-ups for participants and aims to measure the situation at a specific point in time.

It should be noted that the results of a cross-sectional study do not indicate particular causation but rather an association. Therefore, it will only be possible to indicate whether organizational culture and HRM are associated with a negative or positive influence on employee satisfaction. Cross-sectional studies can be repeated at different time points, but if they consist of different participants, the changes in the observed phenomenon can be simply related to different participants (Sedgwick, 2014).

By using a descriptive cross-sectional study, the authors aim to examine factors potentially related to employee satisfaction at Emirates Airlines. The study sample might not be too big since it will be difficult to provide any generalizations from a study based on the observation of a single company. Nevertheless, this cross-sectional study might indicate further areas of research in the business research and airline industry.

Study Setting

The study setting will be the United Arab Emirates, and the hypotheses will be tested on the sample size from Dubai, where Emirates Airlines is based. The researchers will indicate any other cities and communities that will represent the sample size in case if any current or former employees will provide data about the working process at Emirates Airlines in any other UAE city than Dubai. Since the majority of the participants will be contacted via e-mail, the study setting can also be identified as a web-based one.

Additional information about organizational culture and HRM at the company will be extracted from press releases, the company’s website, materials published in online and offline magazines and journals. Since it is a cross-sectional study, no materials older than ten years (interviews, articles, press releases) will be used in this research to align the outcomes of the cross-sectional study with the data collected via web-based research.

To increase the generalizability of the intervention, the authors aim to include different former and current employees of Emirates, including participants with such occupations as human resource managers, salespersons, cabin crew, managers, flight attendants, etc. The authors anticipate that the sample size will be diverse, so the study’s setting with regard to the selection of country will not be based on the employees’ background but rather on the company’s base (i.e., Dubai, the UAE). The authors of the research admit that due to the study’s setting, its results might be applicable only to the Dubai-based branch offices of Emirates Airlines.

Research Instruments, Sampling Design, and Sample Size

The research will engage questionnaires and phone or Skype interviews with the company’s employees, as well as online search engines to collect additional data on the company. The questionnaires will be developed by the researchers and e-mailed to study participants. The researchers will also prepare the interview questions. The questionnaire will take from 20 to 30 minutes to complete, whereas interview questions will need 5 to 10 minutes to answer. Each interview will consist of five questions.

Non-probability purposive sampling design will be used for the research to identify, contact, and include potential participants in the sample size. Participants of the study will be chosen with regard to their position (current or former) at Emirates Airlines and work experience.

The researchers aim to recruit at least 80 study participants by sending e-mails to potential research participants. The inclusion criteria will be the following: 1. Worked at least two years for Emirates Airlines; 2. Worked at Dubai-based office branches; 3. They have participated in training for new employees; 4. I did not work from home only.

Ethical Issues

All participants will be informed about the research’s aims and objectives. Informed written consent will be gathered from all individuals willing to participate. The researchers aim to remove any identifiers (names, last names, detailed specifics of position or work experience, phone numbers, addresses, details about family, etc.) that might compromise participants’ safety (NHMRC, 2014). Each of the interview transcripts should be verified by the participant before completion to avoid misunderstandings or errors. The sample informant interview is a format appropriate for the research purposes that does not violate its ethical considerations.

No questions related to the company’s confidential information will be included in the questionnaires and interviews. The participants will be allowed to indicate whether any of the prepared questions can be considered unethical or compromising organizational confidentiality.

Data Processing

Since research questions will have multiple answers (e.g. “yes”, “partially”, “no”, etc.), they will be coded to facilitate future data processing. Furthermore, the authors aim to use pilot testing to identify any inappropriate or redundant questions and improve the quality of questionnaires and interviews.

Software for qualitative research will also be used for data processing; Aquad can be used for retrieving content-specific segments of texts and audio, whereas MAXQDA is appropriate for grouping and organizing different qualitative data to find possible relationships between them.

Univariate statistical technique recommended for the research is frequency distribution since the research only includes one sample size; the data used for the frequency distribution will be both numerical and non-numerical (number of years worked, age, the positive or negative perception of the HRM and corporate culture, etc.). The multivariate statistical technique will help indicate a possible correlation between organizational culture and employee satisfaction; canonical correlation is used to indicate “the relationship between the first set of variables and the second set of variables” (PennState ECS, 2017, para. 5).

Proposed Chapters

The final report will consist of the following chapters: introduction, literature review, an overview of the problem, methodology, results, discussion, limitations, and summary. The introduction will present a basic description of the problem, whereas literature review and overview of the problem will focus more precisely on the organizational culture, HRM, and employee satisfaction, and their mutual impact.

The methodology will describe study design and processes conducted; results will present statistical and descriptive data, and discussion’s aim is to provide the reader with an interpretation of the results. The limitations will indicate problems and barriers that can adversely influence the validity and fidelity of the results. A clear conclusion with a restatement of the major points will be present in the summary section.

Problems and Limitations

The problems and limitations of the research are the ones common to qualitative methods of data analysis. First, the small sample size will interfere with the generalizability of results, since they will only apply to the examined organization. Since it is a cross-sectional study, its results will be relevant for a particular time period and might become obsolete in one or two years if any major changes in the company will occur.

Moreover, purposive sampling might limit the information employees are willing to share (conflicts with executives, ethical issues, non-adequate work environment, etc.) (Melvin, 2012). The replication of such research might also be problematic due to its cross-sectional design and purposive sampling; if other employees are recruited during the replication, the research’s results can differ significantly from the data collected previously.

Another problem related to qualitative research is researchers’ and participants’ bias. The answers might be influenced by reciprocal perceptions (both positive and negative), as well as social desirability bias that can affect the validity of data about internal organizational issues.

Unlike questionnaires, semi-structured and structured interviews can differ depending on the respondents’ quality of questions and researchers’ ability to decipher and code them correctly. The researchers should also bear in mind that participants’ answers can be influenced by their private life, including conflicts, illnesses, and positive events. It is important to consider the influence of researcher-participant personal relationships (if there are any) on the results of the interview.

Qualitative research can also be time-consuming, as well as the interpretation of collected data and results. However, Styśko-Kunkowska (2014) points out that appropriate preparatory stage and usage of qualitative data analysis software can significantly reduce the time spent on analysis and interpretation.

Proposed Time Frame

Data collection via literature review and online research 1 August – 14 August
Preparation of questionnaires 8 August-14 August
Contact with potential participants, pilot questionnaire distribution 10 August – 20 August
Distribution of questionnaire to the sample size, interviews 20 August – 30 August
Data analysis 1 September – 7 September
Preparation of report 8 September – 15 September
Presentation of report 17 September

Questionnaire

The following questions will be used to prepare credible information and data for future research. All interviews with these questions will be completed with the help of competent employees of the company discussed above via such services as e-mail, Skype, and telephone.

  1. Emirates Airlines is an international company, which is also well-known all over the world. Many customers use its services every day and remain satisfied with the company’s work. Do you think that Emirates Airlines needs to make some improvements in order to provide its customers with better services, higher comfort, and lower prices of tickets?
  2. The research above covers some information about the software that Emirates Airlines Company uses for controlling and processing various technical operations. Do you consider this software convenient and efficient? Do you think that some software has to be changed or redeveloped? Is it possible for the company to operate without the software discussed above, and how disadvantageous and crucial might some issues with the Emirate Airlines’ electronic system become?
  3. Are there any ethical issues among various employees and customers of Emirates Airlines? If there are, are they somehow related to racial or ethnic background, social status, and physical biases of people? What do you think should be implemented in order to reduce such ethical issues to the minimum?
  4. You have been working for the Emirates Airlines Company for more than two years. Are you satisfied with its organizational culture? Are there any evident things that that the company has been lacking in order to improve this factor? Can a regular employee have his or her influence on the airlines company’s organizational culture?
  5. Emirates Airlines collaborates and is at partnership with many other businesses and corporations. Do you think that some services, which the company provides to its partners and employees are of a higher quality and do not differ from a similar approach to regular clients?
  6. Are there any considerable relationships among such factors of Emirates Airlines as human resources management, organizational culture, and satisfaction of its employees? Have you faced any problems with the aforementioned factors? Do you think that there are any possible methods that might improve relationships among organizational culture, employees’ satisfaction, and HRM?
  7. As you know, there are several departments of the Emirates Airlines Company all over the country, except the main office in Dubai. Did you have a chance to work or witness a working process in at least one of them? Do people who work at other departments follow the same rules, standards, and organizational methods? Have you noticed any significant differences in services that other departments provide to the company’s clients?
  8. All employees have their personal lives, which might influence their working process sometimes. Does the company provide a psychological help to its employees with evident psychical issues? Are personal problems of employees addressed and considered by generals? Have you faced some psychological dissatisfaction during your work for Emirates Airlines?
  9. Does human resources management have any influence on employees of Emirates Airlines? Are there any prevalent issues that employees address to HRM department? Does the company provide certain support in order to satisfy its clients? Is this support financial or moral?
  10. How does the organizational culture of the Emirates Airlines influence employees’ satisfaction? Are employees satisfied with their chores and responsibilities that might not refer to their primary duties?

References

Alfes, K., Shantz, A. D., Truss, C., & Soane, E. C. (2013). The link between perceived human resource management practices, engagement and employee behaviour: A moderated mediation model. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24(2), 330-351.

Buller, P. F., & McEvoy, G. M. (2012). Strategy, human resource management and performance: Sharpening line of sight. Human Resource Management Review, 22(1), 43-56.

De Brito Neto, J. F. (2015). Leadership approaches in multi-cultural aviation environments. Aviation in Focus-Journal of Aeronautical Sciences, 5(1), 38-43.

Ding, D., Lu, H., Song, Y., & Lu, Q. (2012). Relationship of servant leadership and employee loyalty: The mediating role of employee satisfaction. iBusiness, 4(3), 208-215.

Hendry, C. (2012). Human resource management. New York, NY: Routledge.

Jiang, K., Lepak, D. P., Hu, J., & Baer, J. C. (2012). How does human resource management influence organizational outcomes? A meta-analytic investigation of mediating mechanisms. Academy of Management Journal, 55(6), 1264-1294.

Kozlowski, S.W.J. (2012). Oxford handbook of industrial and organizational psychology. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Melvin, C. S. (2012). Professional compassion fatigue: What is the true cost of nurses caring for the dying? International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 18(12), 606-611.

NHMRC. (2014). Chapter 3.1: Qualitative methods. Web.

Pandis, N. (2014). Cross-sectional studies. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, 146(1), 127-129.

PennState ECS. (2017). Lesson 13: Canonical correlation analysis. Web.

Sedgwick, P. (2014). Cross sectional studies: Advantages and disadvantages. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 348(2), 1-2.

Styśko-Kunkowska, M. (2014). Interviews as a qualitative research method in management and economics sciences. Warsaw, Poland: Warsaw School of Economics.

Wiewiora, A., Trigunarsyah, B., Murphy, G., & Coffey, V. (2013). Organizational culture and willingness to share knowledge: A competing values perspective in Australian context. International Journal of Project Management, 31(8), 1163-1174.