Edward S. Greenberg
Leon Grunberg
Sarah Moore
Patricia B. Sikora
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    This timely book investigates the experiences of employees at all levels of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) during a ten-year period of dramatic organizational change. As Boeing transformed itself, workers and managers contended with repeated downsizing, shifting corporate culture, new roles for women, outsourcing, mergers, lean production, and rampant technological change. Drawing on a unique blend of quantitative and qualitative research, the authors consider how management strategies affected the well-being of Boeing employees, as well as their attitudes toward their jobs and their company. Boeing employees' experience holds vital lessons for other employees, the leaders of other firms determined to thrive in today's era of inescapable and growing global competition, as well as public officials concerned about the well-being of American workers and companies.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15462-7
    Subjects: Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  6. Chapter 1 Studying a Company and Workforce in Transition
    (pp. 1-17)

    Boeing Commercial Airplanes*—a key unit of the Boeing Corporation—is in many ways a remarkable American success story. For much of the twentieth century its name was synonymous with pioneering advances in commercial flight. Toward the end of the century, as it faced a more uncertain and fast-changing environment, Boeing had to fight hard to maintain its reputation as one of the world’s great companies. In the midst of a period of great economic, social, and technological change, and in response to intense global economic pressure, Boeing dramatically transformed itself. It revolutionized the ways it designed and produced aircraft,...

  7. Chapter 2 How and Why Boeing Changed Everything About the Way It Makes Airplanes
    (pp. 18-38)

    In order to appreciate how Boeing Commercial Airplanes employees coped, adjusted, and adapted—some successfully, others not so successfully—to the many changes Boeing leaders instituted between the mid-1990s and 2006 when we conducted our fourth and last survey, we must first look at the causes, nature, and extent of the many changes the company introduced. That is the purpose of this chapter. We want to know why so many big changes were introduced, what they looked like in practice, and how they reshaped the working lives of so many Boeing employees.

    Boeing was on the upswing during the years...

  8. Chapter 3 Boeing’s Changing Culture
    (pp. 39-60)

    In the eyes of top executives, it was not enough to change Boeing’s business strategy and operations in response to the new, more competitive, and uncertain business environment. Boeing’s culture also had to be transformed; the values and behaviors of its employees needed to become more aligned with the company’s new focus on efficiency and the bottom line. If there was to be a new ethos to guide Boeing’s operations, Phil Condit and Harry Stonecipher made it clear it was to be a more explicit and aggressive pursuit of shareholder value—one, moreover, that would be more responsive to the...

  9. Chapter 4 Living Through Layoffs
    (pp. 61-80)

    Boeing Commercial Airplanes workers have lived with layoffs for a long time, though the reasons for layoffs have changed in important ways. For many years, layoffs were tied to fluctuations in the demand for Boeing airplanes from airlines and leasing companies, with people getting hired during good times and laid off during bad times. These were expected, broadly understood, and often planned for by Boeing workers. However, as Boeing transformed the way it planned, engineered, and produced airplanes, it has needed fewer in-house employees to produce aircraft. What this means is that the traditional business-cycle-related layoff patterns increasingly have been...

  10. Chapter 5 Working in New Ways
    (pp. 81-106)

    Change was the norm at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, extending into the very ways of working. In particular, a ramp-up of teams and technology dramatically affected how work was done on a day-to-day basis for virtually all employees. These new ways of working were integral to Boeing’s lean and outsourcing strategies. The ability to do more with less requires tight linkages between people and processes. Flatter hierarchies and far-flung work processes demand more of employees: more autonomy, more responsibility, more collaboration, and more creativity. Did these new ways of working help or hinder employees’ ability to respond to the new demands...

  11. Chapter 6 Managing Through Change
    (pp. 107-126)

    Frontline employees were not the only ones working through turbulence at Boeing. Managers—especially first-line and second-line managers who had to cope with new duties and less support, and who had to deal face-to-face with stressed and distressed employees—were not immune from the perpetual changes at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Boeing, mirroring many other large industrial firms, was organized for most of its history like a multitiered pyramid. Thousands of supervisors or first-line managers reported to hundreds of second-level managers and directors who, in turn, reported to even fewer vice presidents. Not surprisingly, then, our survey sample was dominated by...

  12. Chapter 7 Changing Roles of Women
    (pp. 127-150)

    The movement of women into a historically male-dominated workplace represented another major transformation for Boeing and its workers. Unlike the other changes we have addressed in this book associated with Boeing’s attempt to become more efficient, productive, and profitable—including lean manufacturing, broad and deep computerization, outsourcing and global partnering, and mass layoffs—the pressure to increase the numbers and broaden the role of women at Boeing came from places other than the competitive global marketplace. Some pressure, for example, came from the general change in American culture, social practices, and social expectations in favor of women’s rights. Some came...

  13. Chapter 8 Well-Being Consequences of Workplace Change
    (pp. 151-172)

    To the casual observer of the company turmoil we have described, the question “Does living through such change affect employee health?” may seem to have an obvious answer. Workplace change and uncertainty that threaten one’s livelihood, sense of “family,” and sense of worth as a worker or manager unquestionably can be very stressful. Most people believe that stress is linked to poor mental and physical health outcomes, a connection that has been substantiated in the research literature for a number of years.¹ We have seen in previous chapters that employees across the board at Boeing experienced substantial change and uncertainty,...

  14. Chapter 9 Navigating Through Turbulence
    (pp. 173-194)

    Our study of Boeing from 1996 through 2006 enabled us to capture a company in transition, at the cusp of change, pushed by powerful social, technological, and competitive forces to change its business strategy and operations. Boeing employees had no choice but to adjust, though the costs were high for many of them. But it is not Boeing alone and its employees who have been going through these changes. Across the board, corporations in a wide range of manufacturing and service industries are confronting a hypercompetitive global and domestic environment which forces continuous innovations in products, services, and processes, attention...

  15. Appendix: Details of Research Methodology
    (pp. 195-206)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 207-220)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-232)
  18. Index
    (pp. 233-238)