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Leadership and Organization

in the Aviation Industry
By Marc-Philippe Lumpé
‘Dear airline manager, do not fall into the trap of using
yourself as the standard when managing your airline.
There are many different types of jobs within your airli-
ne, each job preferring its own organizational structure
and leadership style. A lot can be gained if you appreci-
ate that and act accordingly.’
That seems to be one of the key messages in this book.
Review by Frank van der Zwan

Book Discussion
The book starts on the premise that leadership and organizational
structures, when not adjusted to the cultural background of the
employees concerned, are most likely to generate sub-optimal
results. Traditionally, perceiving and analyzing culture in the professional cultures. He also augmented the methodology by
workplace involved looking at national and organizational including open interviews with respondents representing the
cultures. According to the author however, such an approach different occupations. He identified in total twelve different
completely ignores the cultural differences between the various clusters of functions or occupations within the aviation industry,
occupations present within an organization. He therefore ranging from blue-collar workers and flight attendants to project
introduces the concept of ‘professional culture’; something leaders and operational managers.
that emerges as a consequence of a common occupational
background, which can be understood as a genuine cultural I was genuinely surprised by the significant differences in
system comparable to organizational and national culture. occupational cultures. My preconceived idea was that, for
example, organizational culture would play a much larger role.
This book reports on research undertaken by the author in order But the research findings clearly show that the twelve clusters
to get an idea of what the expectations of members of a certain have twelve different leadership styles and organizational
occupation are with regard to how their work environment and structure preferences. Research findings show, for example,
leadership are structured, with a view to developing leadership that flight attendants favor indirect leadership, while for blue-
and organizational structures that can cope with the demands collar workers the role of a direct leader is incredibly important.
exhibited by these different occupational backgrounds. The Furthermore, pilots favor the strict hierarchic organizational
author presents empirical data, gathered exclusively in the structure, while an airline’s IT specialist prefers a less hierarchy-
aviation sector. based organization. This part of the book provides the reader
with a rich understanding of the cultural differences between the
The book has a clear structure. The first four chapters form the occupations, which is fascinating to read.
theoretical basis of the work and consist of literature reviews on
leadership, organization, and (professional) culture theories. In Those of you expecting an accessible textbook on leadership
this part, the author establishes the academic need to study the and organization in the aviation industry might be disappointed:
differences in professional culture. The second part of the book it is more like a proper academic dissertation in both style and
covers the empirical work. It sets out the research methodology structure. Although the author writes lucidly, the rigid structure
that was used, and discusses the findings. The author has adapted and technical writing style with all its academic justifications
the set-up of a multinational cross-cultural study on national does not make for an easy read; the reader has to work hard
culture, to make it suitable to study the differences between to elicit the interesting elements from the text. But despite the
somewhat awkward style, this book provides interesting and

e-zine edition 45 1
thought-provoking insights into the cultural differences between About the Reviewer
the various occupations within the aviation industry. The Frank van der Zwan is Assistant Professor at the Air Transport
author has consequently succeeded in enriching our traditional & Operations Group, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft
perception of culture in the workplace with the construct of University of Technology, The Netherlands.
professional culture.
About the Book
About the Author Author: Marc-Philippe Lumpé
Dr. Marc-Philippe Lumpé was formerly Corporate Director of Title: Leadership and Organization in the Aviation Industry
Quality and Flight Safety Management and Corporate Process Publisher: Ashgate
Management at Air Berlin. He is now a consultant with A.T. Date of publication: July 2008
Kearney in Germany. ISBN: 978-0-7546-7144-2
Firgure 1: New management tools for the aviation industry? “Blue-
tooth” and “Plug and play”! (Courtesy of Ritsch and Renn)

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