Analysis of the Success of Cultural Change Within British Airways

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British Airways came into existence in 1935, when smaller privately owned UK airlines merged. Another change occurred when the Government nationalised British Airways and Imperial Airways to form BOAC - The British Overseas Airways Corporation.

During this period, external markets were more stable and predictable and there was no real need for BA to adopt competitive strategies, being that there was little competition from rivals. There appears to be little in the way of strategy formulation and strategy implementation. This was mainly due to the established strategy and organisation environment remaining largely unchanged. Any change in BA's strategy would have developed in an incremental fashion, an almost natural
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The bulk of BA's history has been spent as a nationalised industry in a fairly stable environment.


Management researchers seem to agree that the things that companies do called "corporate culture" is an intangible concept and hence difficult to define. Among the attempts to define "corporate culture", the following definition is useful as a starting point:- "culture represents an interdependent set of values and ways of behaving that are common in a community and that tend to perpetuate themselves, sometimes over long periods of time" (Kotter and Heskett,1992,141) Peters and Watermann argue that changing a culture cannot be accomplished.


The story of British Airways is one of the most widely used inspirational accounts of changing culture (Heller 1992). BA faced two external pressures. The Thatcher government was threatening to privatise it and also the deregulation of the industry worldwide. Within Lundberg's model of the organisational learning cycle, he suggests that in order for cultural change to occur the requisite external and internal circumstances must occur. He describes the two external enabling conditions. These are known as domain forgiveness - the degree of threat due to instability of the environment and
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