Organizational Behavior: Improving Performance and Commitment in the Workplace



Even if you’ve never flown on United Airlines, chances are that you’re familiar with the company—it’s one of the oldest airlines in the world, with roots going back to the 1920s. With its nearly 50,000 employees and a fleet of almost 400 aircraft that make more than 3,000 flights a day to over 200 domestic and international locations, it’s also one of the world’s largest airlines. If you’ve gone online to a Web site like Expedia, Priceline, or Travelocity to find a flight, United Airlines was likely one of your options, especially if you needed to fly through San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, or Washington, DC, where United has major hubs.

Of course, you also might be familiar with United Airlines because it’s been in the news so much in the past decade. The most memorable news stories focused on the events of September 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked two United Airlines jets—Flight 175, which crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, and Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. In part because of these hijackings, but also due to competition from low-cost rivals like Southwest, United Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002. United emerged from this bankruptcy in 2006 after taking some drastic and highly publicized steps to cut costs. For instance, United eliminated unprofitable routes and costly services such as free meals. The company also terminated its employees’ pension plan, and many United employees were laid off, furloughed, or forced to take pay cuts.


1 Which specific types of team processes are most relevant to ramp crews? Which factors in the ramp crew context likely cause the majority of problems with communication?

2 Which type of team training takes place at Pit Crew U? Which specific team processes and communication factors does the training emphasize?

3 What recommendations would you make to ensure that the ramp crews maintained their focus on safety? Are there additional types of team processes or communication training that should be incorporated to overcome potential issues having to do with the speed versus safety trade-off?

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