Organizational Behavior and Culture in Emirates Airline

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Executive Summary

Developments in computer technology, psychology, and statistical methods have allowed scientists to establish the relationship between company success and organizational behavior and culture. This paper explores Emirates Airline in the context of organizational behavior and discusses how leadership techniques, employee motivation, and customer-centricity have allowed the company to grow to become one of the leaders of the commercial airline industry. As part of the study, it was discovered that Emirates Airline employs transformational leadership techniques to improve the professional capacity of its workers. This same element serves as a motivational factor because when workers are cared for, they are more committed to accomplishing organizational tasks. In terms of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and environmental concerns are a priority for Emirates. The company is committed to reducing gas emissions and ensuring that no illegal wildlife trade is possible through the airline’s routes. Employee job satisfaction is at a high level because the airline provides its workers with all the required facilities. For instance, the company offers its foreign workers free housing and meals and free transportation to and from work. No major workplace issues are identified, and employee feedback is often concerned with minor enhancements in workplace conditions.

Organizational behavior refers to how teams and individuals function within an organization. Along with organizational culture, which is a set of core and shared beliefs, it determines how employees are motivated, how teams are organized, and how tasks are accomplished. Often, the success of a company is predetermined by its approach to culture and behavior. This paper provides an overview of Emirates Airline in the context of organizational culture and behavior. Structure of the company, diversity at workplace, leadership style, and corporate social responsibility are considered. Emirates has become a global leader in the commercial airline industry because of a favorable combination of motivational methods, organizational culture, and management structure.

About Emirates Airline

Emirates Airline is one of the world’s largest airlines, based in Dubai. It was created in 1985 by the top leadership of the Emirate of Dubai for the development of tourism and infrastructure of the United Arab Emirates (Emirates, 2020). It is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group and is the largest airline in the Middle East (Emirates, 2020). According to the official website, the company operates more than 3,600 flights a week to more than 150 destinations in 80 countries on six continents (Emirates, 2020). The company is one of the few airlines that operates a fleet consisting solely of wide-body aircraft manufactured by Airbus and Boeing. As of January 2019, Emirates is the largest Airbus A380 operator with 115 airplanes of this model (Emirates, 2020). Since its inception, the Airbus A380 has become an integral part of the Emirates fleet, which operate on long-haul routes with high passenger load. The airline is also the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 777, with 174 planes in operation (Emirates, 2020). In total, the fleet is comprised of more than 270 airplanes as of 2020.

The company is attractive in terms of organizational culture and behavior because of the fact the team is multinational. As of March 31, 2020, there are 59 519 employees from 172 nationalities working for the airline (Emirates, 2020). Emirates claims that it is dedicated to continually improving working conditions if its employees (Emirates, 2020). Among other priorities, there are corporate responsibility, strive for more favorable ecological outcomes, and contribution to communities (Emirates, 2020). Because the company has been successful since its inception and is currently among the most popular airlines in the world, it is beneficial to analyze how organizational behavior and culture within the company contributed to this success. Some people believe that the airline has a financial advantage because of the fact that it is state-sponsored (Sadik, 2018). However, although financial capital is significant, it does not necessarily predetermine success. Inter-team interaction and corporate leadership are often more significant elements in organizational management.

Organizational Structure

As technology and innovation continue to drive businesses forward, they are considering new ways of organizing their workplace. The whole world has become a global village – it is easy to communicate and exchange ideas even if people are separated by long distances (Driskill, 2018). The notion of a global village is being integrated into contemporary organizational structures. Traditional formations could be seen as a vast hierarchy, and communication channels between management and ordinary employees are not streamlined (Driskill, 2018). However, modern organizational structure deviates significantly from this approach. Emirates Airline has not seen significant changes in terms of the organizational structure since it was founded (Emirates, 2020). The top management team has been rather stable, and only a few members changed (Emirates, 2020). Since its inception, the company has been controlled by a limited number of executives. Bloated bureaucracy was eliminated by the fact that one executive was responsible for a majority of aspects of Emirates’ business. This flat structure has facilitated clear communication between management and employees, which allowed the effective achievement of organizational objectives.

Being able to make quick decisions is significant in the contemporary world of business. Uhl-Bien, Piccolo, and Schermerhorn (2020) state that effective communication between teams and managers is one of the most vital elements of this ability. Because there is no need to follow strict communication protocols as it is required in the majority of companies, messages are exchanged much faster within Emirates workplace. This advantage grants the company the ability to accomplish tasks faster without wasting time and resources on needless overhead. Another essential feature of Emirates Airline in terms of organizational structure is how it tackles issues (Emirates, 2020). The company uses a team-based approach, where each issue is assigned a team to work on.

Organizational Culture

Organizational culture can be seen as a shared set of beliefs held by a company’s members. It is a unique culture in place within an organization that defines which set of actions and behavior is acceptable in the workplace (Driskill, 2018). Often, the type of culture determines a company’s success, and the reason why Emirates has been successful is partially due to its culture (Driskill, 2018). To understand how organizational culture has contributed to Emirates’ prosperity, it is essential to overview the common culture types.

There are four distinct types of organizational culture, and most companies use a mix of these models. The traditional approach to both structuring a company and developing its culture is the hierarchical approach (Driskill, 2018). This type of culture prioritizes a strict formal structure and control (Driskill, 2018). Institutional procedures guide all communications and interactions between employees, and it is often hard to introduce change within such organizations (Driskill, 2018). Among the primary objectives of the hierarchical culture is improving the efficiency of individual processes by implementing uniform monitoring. Unpredictable ventures are often dismissed because they may result in unfavorable outcomes.

The market culture is about focusing on the demands of contemporary markets and basing all benchmarks according to market expectations. In such a culture, employees and management are not limited by the constraints of the hierarchical structure as long as activities are aimed at achieving market objectives. This approach is often efficient because constant strive for market leadership may result in attaining a competitive advantage (Driskill, 2018). Each team may choose their own set of structural elements when working on a task. As already mentioned, the primary goal is to meet the market demands.

The adhocracy culture values creativity, decisiveness, and risk-taking. Within such a culture, employees are encouraged to share their ideas and make decisions when needed (Driskill, 2018). It can be seen as the direct opposite of hierarchical culture where decisions are made only by managers (Driskill, 2018). In organizations with adhocracy, it is much easier to introduce changes, because the original design of the company was set to be agile.

The fourth type of organizational culture is the clan culture. The name may suggest that a single-family owns such organizations. However, the name only refers to the kind of interactions between employees (Driskill, 2018). In companies with the clan culture, the structure of an organization is family-like (Driskill, 2018). In other words, culture is based on shared goals, values, and commitment to collaboration (Driskill, 2018). The clan culture ensures that mentorship is consistent, and all members are satisfied with their work.

The organizational culture of Emirates is a mix of adhocracy and the clan culture. Employees are encouraged to generate ideas and provide feedback to enhance customer service and workplace conditions (Emirates, 2020). Because of the flat structure, executives take active participation in mentoring and assisting ordinary employees (Emirates, 2020). This culture of collaboration and shared beliefs allowed Emirates to grow to become one of the most successful airlines in the world.

Leadership Style and Motivational Techniques

Organizational culture also determines the type of leadership in place within a company. Because of the clan culture, the management team of Emirates prioritizes its employees. Also, according to the official website, the company has always put customers in the first place and has attempted to be customer-centric continually (Emirates, 2020). This mix of putting a customer at the core of the business and commitment to employees defines the company’s leadership strategy (Uhl-Bien, Piccolo, & Schermerhorn, 2020). The company’s management understands that it is not only responsible for meeting organizational objectives, but also for ensuring that employees are satisfied with workplace conditions and compensation (Emirates, 2020). In order to understand what issues exist within the workplace, it is significant to have a streamlined channel of communication. Therefore, Emirates employs a feedback system in the form of a phone center (Emirates, 2020). Any employee may call and share their concerns with the company’s management.

A feeling that an employee is cared about can act as a form of a motivational technique. Such employees tend to be more productive and committed to achieving organizational objectives (Uhl-Bien, Piccolo, & Schermerhorn, 2020). The clan culture ensures that an employee is able to seek assistance. A mentor may provide support on an individual basis to identify what issues exist and what tools are available to solve them. This approach is called transformational leadership, and Emirates consistently employs this technique.

Cultural Diversity

As already stated, Emirates recruits’ employees from all over the world. This strategy contributes significantly to cultural diversity within the workplace. Also, Emirates does not hold a belief that cultural and racial background influences professional capacity. Therefore, international employees are recruited to all areas of the company, including cabin crew, pilots, administrative personnel, and customer service (Emirates, 2020). The company chose this strategy for several reasons worth considering. First, Emirates is set to serve the global population of a variety of nationalities, races, and cultures (Emirates, 2020). Having a diversified workforce enables the company to serve this population effectively (Uhl-Bien, Piccolo, & Schermerhorn, 2020). The second reason deals with the theory of organizational behavior. Companies have understood that recruiting a diverse workforce increases the likelihood of generating fascinating ideas that may attain competitive advantage (Uhl-Bien, Piccolo, & Schermerhorn, 2020). Moreover, viewing an issue from a different cultural view may yield drastically different results.

The percentage of foreign employees in the UAE has been growing steadily for more than a decade. In the 1970s, nearly half of the workforce consisted of non-Emiratis (Warner & Moonesar, 2019). Today, this number is almost 90 percent and is consistently increasing (Warner & Moonesar, 2019). This trend is supported by the UAE government because of its social and political objectives (Warner & Moonesar, 2019). One of the country’s primary objectives is to become a smart nation (Warner & Moonesar, 2019). This goal is impossible to achieve without adequate diversity management. The third reason behind cultural diversity within Emirates’ work may be to align with the national objectives.

Workplace Issues

No critical issues were identified as part of this study. However, there are some concerns regarding the diversified workforce. The primary issue that can arise in such a team is communication barriers. The company, however, aims to solve this issue by enforcing strict language requirements upon recruitment (Emirates, 2020). All employees are required to speak English fluently, as it is the primary language in the company’s communication channels both between employees and customers (Emirates, 2020). Cultural misunderstandings also may occur, but these are successfully tackled by team-building activities and increasing the cultural sensitivity of employees.

Employee Personality and Job Satisfaction

The personality of an Emirates employee depends on the role and requirements for the job. For instance, cabin crew recruits are required to take personality tests to ensure that they match with the job requirements. Because Emirates always attempts to be customer-centric, all Emirates employees have excellent communication skills and are customer-oriented (Emirates, 2020). They are patient, tolerant, kind, and affable – must-have character traits of any person who speaks to customers (Emirates, 2020). In terms of workplace communication, Emirates employees are open to discussing new suggestions and recommendations. Therefore, they are not hesitant when it comes to talking about workplace conditions.

Employees often call and provide feedback about current worker contemplations about job satisfaction. Although there are no statistical data on employee perception of work conditions, the type of requests that employees make can provide critical insight. For instance, recently, cabin crew members have contacted the company’s management to request longer rest hours between flights (Emirates, 2020). As it can be seen, this issue is not as critical as low compensation or unfavorable housing. It means that job satisfaction rates are at a high level, but the company is always open to new suggestions.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Fully aware of its impact on the ecosystem, Emirates continues to work on environmentally sustainable activities. The airline provided data on the environmental policy results in the annual report of the Emirates Group for the 2019-2020 financial year, creating a holistic picture and context of its efforts. The protection of wildlife and their habitat is critical for Emirates (2020). The airline is committed to contributing to the fight against illegal wildlife trade (Emirates, 2020). Poachers continue to use them as pets or for the purpose of using their skins, tusks, and other parts for food, medicine, and jewelry. Emirates is actively involved in industrial and international initiatives and supports projects and organizations such as United for Wildlife and ROUTES (Emirates, 2020). Emirates (2020) does not allow the transportation of prohibited species of animals, hunting trophies, and any products associated with the illegal trade of wild animals. Airline ground services staff study the International Air Transport Association live animal transportation rules and domestic wildlife policies.

The second element of the company’s policy on sustainability and preservation of the environment is reducing the amount of carbon-dioxide emissions. Emirates (2020) claims that it contributes significantly to the environment because its aircraft consume less fuel for each passenger-kilometer. Modern and environmentally efficient fleet with an average service life of 6-8 years is the primary contributor (Emirates, 2020). Emirates’ comprehensive fuel efficiency program, in which the airline develops and implements ways to reduce fuel consumption and reduce emissions when technically possible, has made it feasible to increase fuel efficiency by 1.9% last year (Emirates, 2020). The airline’s efforts for route optimization and efficient fuel consumption, taking safety and operational functionality into account, reduced fuel consumption by 38 000 tons and decreased carbon dioxide emissions by 120 000 tons (Emirates, 2020). Data-based methodologies and pilot training programs also facilitated these results.


Emirates has managed to build a robust and diversified workplace with an established organizational culture that is based on the principles of the clan culture and adhocracy. Not many recommendations can be given in this context, but the lack of formal surveys on job satisfaction is a concern. Currently, the company is taking a passive position in identifying workplace issues and employee requests. Instead of waiting for employees to speak, the company management should conduct regular surveys that research what areas of the workplace can be enhanced. This approach will allow the company to have quantitative data at its disposal, which can be used to develop new strategies for workplace management and employee motivation strategies.


Emirates rarely receives severe negative feedback from its employees because it is always committed to making working conditions more favorable. The reason is that Emirates views its employees as core to their business because it is the workers who provide services to customers. A mix of adhocracy and the clan culture has given the company the flexibility to stay innovative while ensuring that employees are motivated and determined to accomplish the company’s objectives. There are only minor workplace issues, and none of them are related to compensation and housing.


Driskill, G. W. (2018). Organizational culture in action: A cultural analysis workbook. New York, NY: Routledge.

Emirates. (2020). About us. Web.

Sadik, R. M. (2018). Implementation of total quality management in airline (case study Emirates Airline). International Journal of Advances in Computer Science and Technology, 7(5), 22-25.

Uhl-Bien, M., Piccolo, R. F., & Schermerhorn Jr, J. R. (2020). Organizational behavior. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Warner, R., & Moonesar, I. A. (2019). Diversity management: The case of the United Arab Emirates. Web.

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