Organizational Change and Human Resource Management in Emirates Airlines


Different professionals suggest that organizations ought to employ effective approaches of influence in cases where resistance to change crops up to facilitate the implementation of transformation endeavors successfully. Major organizational transformation practices may have a crucial impact on workers, and as a result, impinge on their approval of the change. Consequently, corporations have to embark on change management approaches successfully with the aim of ensuring that workers adapt to transformations effectively. This study employed a primary approach of data collection, qualitative data analysis, and the case study on Emirates Airlines. 55 respondents took part in the study. The research sought to determine the success of organizational change and human resource management in Emirates Airlines as it embarked on transformations in its operations and information systems. There was resistance as some employees feared that change would be detrimental to their smooth operations. However, the change leaders counteracted the resistance effectively.


From the employees’ standpoint, some of the transformations that corporations embark on tend to be intricate, difficult, and sometimes uncertain. The future course of change management approaches in corporations within the United Arab Emirates is uncertain, encompassing that of Emirates Airlines. Additionally, there is no vivid perception of what sways the management of change within organizations in the United Arab Emirates, though it is identified that the nation is majorly Islamic and the culture may have an impact on change management in an organization (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2017).

An airline company recently announced an information technology-propelled enterprise transformation policy. The company seeks to restructure business practices and ensure effective data management at the heart of its operations. The proposed change will see the creation of a change management team drawn from its present employees to center on smart technology, in addition to real-time analytics. The objective of the change is to transform the airline into the leading customer-centered, technology-facilitated travel experience company. The proposed change will affect different sections of the company, from the ticket booking department to administrative functions. The company seeks to make use of big data, crowdsourcing, projecting analytics, cooperation, artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning as components of the transformation.

Company Overview

Emirates Airlines is a global aviation company with its headquarters in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. It offers commercial air transportation services throughout the world. The airline functions as an independent body under the common management of the Emirates Group. It is typified by enhanced hospitality and efficiency, which have played a vital role in reinforcing Dubai and the United Arab Emirates as a premium and top-notch hub not just for business and trade but also for sports and culture. The company is fundamentally a pivotal link connecting continents and draws on the greatly polished civil aviation infrastructure in the country and across the globe. Its rise to the prestigious position of being among the top-ranking international airlines has been facilitated by the adoption and encouragement of reasonable competition, intelligibility, and open skies strategy (Emirates, 2019). The application of novel technology and information systems in the airlines’ endeavors is a vital element in the company’s success.

Research Question

How are change leaders supposed to undertake the process to prevent or counteract resistance?

Theoretical Framework

To succeed and realize effective management of change, organizations ought to implement policies that realistically reflect on their capacity to address multiple future situations (Spector, 2010). Practices that are successful in evaluating and implementing intricate organizational change and development should be aligned with organizational and behavioral adjustments that will assist in the accommodation and sustenance of change (Al-Ali, Singh, Al-Nahyan, & Sohal, 2017). Ideal change management practices will make sure that stakeholders comprehend the manner in which the change will affect them, win their support to make the necessary transformations happen, and have the tools to triumph over possible challenges that might come up devoid of too much aggravation. This is not reliant on the size of the company, the complexity of the organization, or the magnitude of the proposed changes, as best practices are roughly similar.

One of the most remarkable theories of change management is Lewin’s model, presented by Kurt Lewin. It is divided into three phases that encompass unfreeze, change, and freeze. The first stage demands change management leaders to unfreeze the existing situation. It may be realized through shifting driving forces away from the situation and reducing the controlling forces that negatively influence transformation progress (Cummings, Bridgman, & Brown, 2016). The second phase is the point where all the change processes take place. It is facilitated through persuading workers to support the arising modifications by emphasizing the advantages of the practices and guaranteeing them that everything that will happen will create the best out the new perspectives.

The third phase, the freezing stage, happens following the occurrence of changes. This is necessary to ensure that change is deep-rooted. It consists of crucial sustainability endeavors. New changes have to be strongly institutionalized and officially taken up by all. According to this theory, driving forces underpin change by directing workers toward the desired direction. Some forces hold back the intended change since they push workers in the opposite course (Batras, Duff, & Smith, 2016). Hence, all forces should be assessed, and Lewin’s model can assist in creating balance in the course of the planned modifications. Changes are exceedingly vital since they result in new and better approaches to operations in an organization.

The ADKAR model is a change management theory. It is fundamentally a framework to realize change at the personal level and is applicable in the business and management sector. It is made up of five components that include Awareness (concerning the necessity for a change), Desire (to back and take part in the change process), Knowledge (of the means of implementing change), Ability (to execute the set behaviors and proficiencies), and Reinforcement (to uphold the change). Awareness characterizes the comprehension of the necessity of change in conjunction with the nature and impact of failed transactions (Das, 2019). Although desire is more concerning personal choices, it may be realized within the intrinsic surroundings. Numerous aspects generate desire in individuals regarding changes.

Knowledge concerns the details and training access regarding the manner in which change happens. It is extremely crucial as it enhances the understanding of key information and practices in the implementation of change. Ability demonstrates the actual implementation of transformations at the essential rate. It also denotes the translation of knowledge into action. Excellence in the implementation of change relies on the capacity of the person or group (Agote, Aramburu, & Lines, 2016). Reinforcement is associated with the sustainability of transformations. Sustainability relies on internal and external aspects. The ADKAR model brings a change in a sequential approach and clearly depicts the way in which people experience it. For instance, desire only comes following awareness since aspirations are prompted effectively when a person has already developed consciousness.

Internal and External Factors

Any organization builds and propagates its culture. Nearly all things that influence the capacity of an organization to compete and react successfully to transformations in the external setting, and its failure or success, are elements of the existing culture. Internal aspects establish how successfully the organization proceeds as an entity and in reaction to the external surroundings (Bratton & Gold, 2017). The internal environment in a company signifies the occurrences, aspects, people, frameworks, situations, and systems in it, which are usually under the control of the organization. Organizational culture, the approach of leadership, and mission statement are aspects characteristically linked to the internal environment. Such aspects greatly sway organizational endeavors, decisions, feelings, and employee behavior. Variations in the style of leadership, the mission of the organization, and culture have a significant influence on the organization.

External aspects that influence an organization may include technological, social, economic, and political factors. The internal aspects that result in an organization’s success certainly typify the company’s relationship to the external environment in the broad segments. Organizations that have an apparent sense of duty, for instance, can elucidate their experiences better to the world and align themselves with the constructive facets in every area (Benn, Edwards, & Williams, 2018). Leaders who learn and share their knowledge within the company also gain insights from the external environment and commune effectively with it, leading to a continuing exchange of notions to the advantage of both the company and its ambiance. Numerous companies have had their executives leave following serious charges being leveled against them. Organizations are also reacting to gender equality concerns through a reassessment of the salaries of both female and male workers to ensure that similar positions offer comparable remuneration.

Leaders’ Choices, Organizational Culture, and Employee Commitment

Unethical business functions entail the tacit, if not explicit, collaboration with others and reflect the ideals, behavioral patterns, attitudes, language, and convictions that delineate an organization’s culture. Moral values, therefore, are beneficial both to the person and the organization. Leaders who do not offer proper guidance by failure to institute systems that enhance ethical behavior share culpability with the people who conceive, carry out, and intentionally gain from corporate offenses (Hornstein, 2015). Leaders should acknowledge their responsibility in influencing organizational ethics and take up the chance to create an atmosphere that reinforces the relationships and status on which the success of the organization is hinged. If the management disregards ethical behavior, it runs the risk of personal and corporate liability in increasingly harsh legal settings. Additionally, organizations are divested of the gains available in the federal directives for suitcases against companies charged with misconduct. Such directives identify the organizational basis of illegal conduct and issue fines somewhat on the degree to which corporations take measures to thwart wrongdoing.

It is crucial for a successful company to have a culture anchored in a strongly established and broadly shared set of convictions that are backed by policies and frameworks. When a company has a strong culture, employees understand how the executives want them to react to the arising situations, are committed to the organizational operations, and are convinced that the received response is the best. They also believe that they will be awarded for upholding organizational standards (Baran, Filipkowski, & Stockwell, 2018). The human resource management and organizational leaders have a critical task in the creation of a strong culture, beginning with recruitment and choosing personnel who will share the organization’s convictions and flourish in the established approach of doing things. Human resource managers initiate orientation, training, research and development, and performance management plans that outline and buttress the company’s core values to guarantee that suitable rewards and appreciation go to workers who truly represent the ideals.

Strategic Plan for Managing Change and Development

Companies should methodically plan and execute major organizational changes. There are steps that should be followed in the tactical plan for the management of change and development. The first step is the creation of a sense of urgency. Effective change processes usually start when managers assess the market for modifications that might result in new competitive realities for the company. Such transformations can emanate from demographic swings, technological advancement, market and competitor variations, new government laws, or social inclinations. Leaders should be alert when a possible crisis or essential opportunity is looming and instigate open and effective communication throughout the company (Yousef, 2017). The creation of a feeling of urgency ensures that the present situation is not acceptable anymore, which makes it vital to obtain staff’s energetic collaboration.

The second step is the generation of a guiding coalition. Once the workforce begins to feel a sense of urgency, the management ought to create a group that has adequate power to guide the change. Members require considerable authority anchored in position, proficiency, trustworthiness, and leadership, in addition to successful management skills and established leadership capacities (Schumacher, Schreurs, Van Emmerik, & De Witte, 2016). Such a coalition should work jointly rooted in trust and a common objective. The third step is the formation of a strategic vision and plans. The creation of a vivid visualization for the future motivates the workforce to embark on suitable actions and manage them. A clear vision should be attractive, imaginable, focused, practicable, transmissible, and flexible. Having an effective vision consumes time and maybe a challenging endeavor, but the final product offers an apparent course for the future.

The fourth step is the soliciting of a volunteer team. Once a clear vision has been developed, the executive should create wide-ranging communications concerning how transformations will improve operations and the manner in which advancements will benefit workers (Cascio, 2015). Vital components in effective communication encompass simplicity, application of examples, numerous forums, recurrence, details of evident inconsistencies, and two-way conveyance. The fifth stage involves enabling action by eradicating hindrances (Steigenberger, 2015). Common obstacles include official arrangements that make it hard for workers to act, shortage of required skills, problems in information systems, and managers who discourage actions toward the accomplishment of the new vision.

The sixth step is the creation of short-term wins. The main objective of this is to ensure the existence of chances to score early successes while recognizing and rewarding the people who make the achievements possible (Shah, Irani, & Sharif, 2017). Commendable short-term wins have clear-cut results, are noticeable by many, and are strongly related to the change attempts. The seventh phase entails the sustention of acceleration. There is a need to utilize early accomplishments as a ground for bigger challenges and adjust all systems, formations, and strategies that do not befit the transformation vision. Human resource managers should merge gains through employing, promoting, and developing workers who can realize the change vision. The eighth and final step is the institution of change. This involves connecting transformations to two major elements of organizational culture, principles of group behavior and collective values.

Leadership Characteristics and Tasks for Effective Change

Change leaders should have excellent interpersonal skills. Over and above, having tremendous communication skills, leaders should be keen listeners and delegators to manage change as effectively as possible. Change leaders should also be good motivators. Motivation all through the process is crucial (Maheshwari & Vohra, 2015). In a case where support for the process seems to lessen as excitement reduces, effective leaders should reawaken the employees’ motivation and encourage them to work hard toward the essential change. Leaders can use targets and rewards to motivate personnel at different levels of change progression. A change leader should be a reformer. This necessitates having a big picture of what is required in the change process to keep all tasks allied to the overall goal and assist motivate the workforce (Appelbaum, Degbe, MacDonald, & Nguyen-Quang, 2015). All the characteristics and tasks give change leaders a strong basis to propel the strategy forward. Nonetheless, circumstances will generally dictate when any of the leadership characteristics should be utilized.


Research Design

This research used a primary technique of data collection and a qualitative descriptive approach to data analysis. This research used the case study of Emirates Airlines. Data were typically gathered from several sources with the aid of interviews and observations, which make the information precise and reliable. The study assessed organizational change and human resource management in Emirates Airlines as the company seeks to reorganize business practices to employ effective data management at the core of its operations. The study sought to determine the degree to which managerial behavior influenced the management of change.

Research Strategy

In preparation for effective data collection, the researcher began by visiting Emirates Airlines’ offices in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and having unofficial conversations with the director of flight operations, the senior manager involved in training, and the senior manager, operations quality and safety. This provided an understanding of the occurrences supporting the research.


The study sought responses from 60 junior and senior personnel in Emirates Airlines aged from 20 to 50 years and who had been working in the company for at least one year. Out of the initial 60, 55 participants agreed to take part in the research. They were 35 male and 20 female employees. All had been employed on a permanent basis in Emirates Airlines.

Data Collection

Following the selection of the respondents, questionnaires were issued to the participants. The semi-structured interviews (Appendix 1) enabled the researcher to receive comprehensive information. The researcher made explanations as pertains to the objective of the research, type of questions to expect, emphasis on confidentiality, and free will of the participants. After giving them a chance to ask questions, the researcher allowed participants to respond to the interview questions, which took approximately 45 minutes.

Results and Data Analysis

When the Chief Executive Officer first communicated the proposed changes to the employees, some resisted. This is because the employees felt that changes in information systems could be detrimental to their operations due to the introduction of new practices, which called for challenging ways of functioning and thinking. The resistance emanated from a predicament, a gap between the present state of affairs and desired conditions. Understanding of this difference and the requirement for change occurred when some workers perceived difficulties to change paradigms involving their new roles. Accustomed to their previous inclinations, they felt that they might not succeed in the new engagements and consequently feared being fired. However, the change leaders were quick to notice the looming opposition and prepared the employees sufficiently to embrace transformations positively.

To counteract the impending resistance, change leaders in Emirates Airlines made the employees understand the benefits they would acquire from the change and the best means of dealing with the principles that appeared uncomfortable. The employees began to appreciate that change is part of every person’s life, and it will continually happen in different phases. Change leaders then used the transparency and agreement approach to win the employees’ support. They informed the employees of all the details of the change process, clarified the problem, and requested them to explain the reasons for their resistance, which were adequately addressed. It is upon tackling their fears that employees agreed to support the change process as persuaded by the change leaders.

Table 1: Practices by change leaders to overcome resistance.

Overcoming Resistance to Change
Practice by Change Leaders Employees’ Reaction
Communicating proposed changes Significant resistance
Seeking employees’ reasons for resistance Open up about their fears, for example, losing the job, failure of the new information system.
Transparency approach while also addressing issues raised Minimal resistance
Agreement approach Accept change


Information technology solutions and data analysis offers a wealth of information to elicit profitable transformations. Change management entails a cautious deliberation of human nature, corporate culture, values, and practices when embarking on the initiative. An advanced information system will not provide the desired outcome unless all workers are managed and trained to use it suitably. A strategy formulated even from the most scrupulous data analysis will not succeed if the employees are not passionate about it (Lungeanu, Stern, & Zajac, 2016). Although different companies experience varying forms of change, the standards of change management are fundamentally similar across the board. Change leaders should establish effective communication with all the employees before, during, and after the transformation in an effort to ensure that all goes well and any arising resistance is effectively addressed without appearing to force modifications to happen.

When suitable, change leaders should begin by first discussing details of what needs to be modified while seeking internal contribution and feedback on the most effective manner of implementing transformations. Proposed transformations should be communicated as early as possible, with the benefits entirely elucidated. The gains should be made as personal as possible to the workers (Pugh, 2016). Change leaders should also inform employees how the transformation will advance and simplify their professional roles. If employees do not understand the purpose of change, they might strongly oppose it and possibly frustrate it. Choosing a solution that will operate impeccably with the existing arrangements will assist in the reduction of costs and minimization of operational interference.


The change management team at Emirates Airlines should, first, consider rolling out transformations in timely increments to ensure that the issues causing resistance are isolated and tackled promptly. Suitable information technology solutions will be beneficial for all the employees regardless of the degree of their technical skills. Their ability to use the new system effectively means reduced pushback from individuals who perceive change to be a threat to having tasks accomplished. Secondly, to address the lack of support of employees in the course of the rollout, change leaders should involve passionate early adopters who are popular and esteemed from every department. They should operate as advocates for the transformations to ensure smooth progress. Thirdly, to avoid the feeling of not being treasured by the management, employees should be involved in decision-making. Change leaders should seek employees’ feedback while making necessary variations quickly or communicating the manner in which they will be carried out.


The objective of this study is to determine the effectiveness of organizational change and human resource management in Emirates Airlines. Unfreezing the state of affairs is extremely crucial in the avoidance of resistance to change. The research design utilized in this study is the primary mode of data collection, in addition to the qualitative technique of analysis. There was resistance to the proposed change, which emanated from a gap between the present state of affairs and the desired situation. Nevertheless, change leaders successfully addressed it. It is recommended that change leaders roll out transformations gradually to avoid resistance. Moreover, they should engage passionate early adopters as advocates to persuade other employees to support change initiatives.


Appendix 1: Interview Questions

  1. Discuss the form of managerial behavior that characterizes Emirates Airlines administration
  2. How did managerial behavior influence your acceptance of or resistance to change?
  3. What did the management do to motivate employees toward the proposed change?
  4. How was resistance to change addressed by the management?
  5. Explain why you would now consider the change worth it or not
  6. What should organizations do to ensure successful change processes?


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