Wednesday, July 16, 2008

FT: Airbus Hampered By Cultural Differences

The Financial Times put out an interesting and disturbing article on tensions at Airbus’ A380 final assembly line. Read it here.

While it has always been normal to have labor tensions at any global manufacturing firm, it is particularly disturbing to have strife amongst groups of workers who need to work together. Even if you have strife as it seems to be the case in Toulouse, the underlying tensions are nationalistic in nature bought on by the stress of the getting the A380 out the door quickly. In other words the disputes have become the French vs. the Germans.

Airbus was created with the hopes of pooling the aerospace talent across the European continent in order to be more competitive with the US manufacturers and they have succeeded in that. Times were good and the concept of the different European nationalities working together seemed to have been validated as workers of different nationalities got along . But that was when times were good but now with the pressures of delivering the A380s weighing on them as well as a host of other negative developments (A400M, the insider trading investigation, and Power8) Airbus workers have now set up each other and the battle lines have been drawn along nationalists lines.

While it’s certainly not going to bring down Airbus it can seriously hurt the A380 program at a critical point of the recovery plan and could lead to further delays.

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