Log in to use our free company, program and sector update tracker feature.

September 2005 edition

Culture at Work in Aviation and Medicine: National, Organizational and Professional Influences

By Robert Oxley

Robert Oxley, technology and culture expert at Embry-Riddle University, gives his take on Culture at Work in Aviation and Medicine: National, Organizational and Professional Influences, written by Robert L Helmreich and Ashleigh C Merritt, which explores the effects of professional, national and organisational cultures on individual attitudes, values and team interactions.

Culture at Work in Aviation and Medicine: National, Organizational and Professional Influences. Robert L Helmreich and Ashleigh C Merritt. Published by Ashgate Publishing. Cost £60 Hardback £27 Paperback.

“Ignoring culture can be a costly mistake, a considerable drain on resources and a serious threat to the long-term success of an international venture,” according to the authors of Culture at Work in Aviation and Medicine.

Robert Helmreich and Ashleigh Merritt discuss cultural differences among aviation professionals, including chapters on organisational culture, professional culture, and error management. While medical schools are beginning to use aviation’s simulation and crew resource management techniques, most of the research in the book is from aviation.

Culture at Work provides a readable mixture of original research and case studies/personal observations from working aviation professionals, with specific information about different cultures and how people from different backgrounds can best work together. Aimed primarily at flight crew operations, it should be useful to the engineer, designer, manager, and student — anyone, in fact, who works in or studies teams. Helmreich and his students at the University of Texas have been studying astronauts, pilots, surgical teams, and other working groups for over 30 years.

Helmreich and Merritt ask professionals from 22 countries a number of questions about culture and their attitude to work. For example: Are you comfortable questioning your superiors? Can you take suggestions from subordinates? Are you an individualist, or is the harmony of the group more important to you? Do you have to follow the rules, or can you work in a flexible, perhaps uncertain environment? Are you focused on extrinsic achievement or on the overall quality of life? Their answers tend to cluster according to national group.

In the chapter on national cultures, Western commercial pilots are compared to Latin American and Asian pilots. In test after test, Western pilots preferred individualism, flexibility, and personal advancement, while Asian and Latin American pilots preferred order, such as time limits and finding one way to do a job. They also favoured predictability and an unchanging routine. Italy was the only country that did not cluster with any other countries - their rankings were often at odds with the majority.

In the chapter “When Cultures Collide,” the authors cite high failure rates among American employees sent overseas. Technical competence is no guarantee that the employee will have the intercultural skills necessary for success. Multicultural misunderstandings occur because of language difficulties, command differences, and attitudes toward rules, procedures, and automation.

The authors recommend that companies train personnel who go abroad or who work in teams, and that companies recruit for characteristics proven to enhance success in multicultural environments: patience, maturity, stability, self-confidence, perseverance, problem solving, tolerance, professional commitment, and initiative.

Robert Oxley, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, teaches courses in technology and culture.

To receive a 15% discount, please quote reference code

G05CF when placing your order to the contact details below

Click here for your copy

Gower Publishing Direct Sales
Bookpoint Limited
130 Milton Park
OX14 4SB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1235 827730
Fax: +44 (0)1235 400454
Email: ashgate@bookpoint.co.uk

Discount valid until 31st December 2005

Tell a friend/colleague about this story:



 Contact details from our directory:
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Research/Consulting Services, Academic Institutions

Subscribers are able to access the full text of articles on this web site, and in a downloadable PDF newsletter. If you have a subscription already then please log in, otherwise see our latest subscription offers.

Enhanced listings:

Valence Surface Technologies
The leading metal processing company serving the global aerospace industry. Valence’s ten facilities offer full-service capabilities: NDT, shot peen, chemical processing, paint, and other coatings.

General Plastics Manufacturing Co.
General Plastics has been supplying OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies with flame-retardant foam core materials and custom flexible foam molded parts for aircraft flight decks and interior cabins for over 50 years.

Quintus Technologies
Quintus Technologies is a global leading provider of high pressure fluid cell presses and hydroform deep-draw presses for sheet metal forming

USA Borescopes
USA Borescopes is a global supplier of world class visual inspection equipment. We are the one stop source for aviation professionals.

Samuel, Son & Co.
Looking for a quality metals supplier? Samuel can provide Aircraft Quality metals that meet Commercial and Military specifications

See our advertising tariff.


Monthly page limit exceeded. Please buy a subscription.

© Copyright of Airframer Limited, operated under licence by Stansted News Limited 2016. Terms & Conditions of reading.