Responding While the Record Button Is Always On: Flying High and Low with United Airlines Corporate Culture and Stakeholder Empowerment

Submited by: Brooke Smith, Steven Pelham

School: Brigham Young University

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Christopher Wilson

United Airlines is a worldwide airline brand with a 2016 operating revenue of over $36.5 billion and 143 million customers served. The airline also claims to fly the world’s most comprehensive route network. Since United’s early beginnings in the 1900s, the organization has grown dramatically while remaining at the forefront of airline innovation and execution. Much like the skies United flies, its past has also been turbulent. In its responses to past crises, such as breaking a guitar, not allowing passengers to board because they were wearing leggings, and mishandling the removal of Dr. David Dao, United was criticized for being too corporate and cold.

Note: Teaching notes will be made available to faculty upon request.

2018 Case Study Competition

Page, in alliance with the Institute for Public Relations, conducts an annual competition for the writing of original case studies by students enrolled in a school of business, communication or journalism and who are pursuing a degree that is focused on corporate communications and the practice of public relations. The objectives of the competition are to introduce practical applications of the core principles that define corporate communication as a critical function of management to educators, teachers and students, and encourage research that contributes to the profession's body of knowledge and provide practical suggestions for improving the corporate communications function. Student authors of winning entries and their faculty advisors are awarded cash prizes and recognized by the nation's leading corporate communications executives.

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The grand prize winner receives the Jack Koten Case Study Award, named in honor of John A. "Jack" Koten, one of the founding members of the Arthur W. Page Society and its first president. The winning students are invited to the annual Awards Ceremony held each year at the Page Society's Spring Seminar in New York.