Deep Stall: The Turbulent Story of Boeing Commercial Airplanes

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Ashgate, 2005 - Transportation - 160 pages
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Deep Stall applies a framework of strategic analysis to the Boeing Company. Boeing is the world's largest aerospace / defence company, with turnover in the region of US $60bn. The book examines the relative decline of Boeing in the civil aircraft market in relation to European manufacturer, Airbus. The aim of the book is to utilize the concept of strategic value to explain Boeing's decline. The authors define this concept as investment in people and technology to leverage future market success by developing innovative new products, arguing that Boeing has neglected strategic value in favour of shareholder value, defined in terms of short-term cash benefits. The rationale for the book exists both in the fact that the story in itself is interesting and also in the wider framework of analysis concerning the correct strategic approach for running a high technology business. The argument illustrates what can happen when quarterly returns become the predominant strategic rationale for a company. In the U.S. the business media (Economist, Forbes, Fortune, and Business Week etc) are now focusing on the question of Boeing's decline and the major implications for the U.S. national interest. Boeing is one of the jewels in the US technology crown, but today U.S. jobs and capability are being exported abroad, with most of its aircraft program work based in Asia. This is a hot topic in the US which explains why the business media are now so interested in this question. The book sits squarely in the centre of this debate. Deep Stall concludes with a brief analysis of the recent fight-back that has been evident in Boeing's fortunes and the successful campaign to sell the new 787. The authors probe the question of whether Airbus or Boeing is likely to dominate in the next ten or fifteen years.

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This is an excellent book which works both as business studies type case study or as a more general guide to some key issues in aviation. The book is not really just about Boeing; it is more of an account of the competition and conflict between Boing and the European aircraft producer, Airbus. The book details the terrible errors made at Boeing in the early noughties but acknowledges that with the B787 Boeing seemed to have turned a corner. Yet Lawrence and Thornton are also prescient in seeing that a new 50% composite aircraft might give Boeing huge production headaches, as indeed it has. Generally this is an excellent analysis of the Seattle company and a lucid interpreation of the key business issues in commercial aviation. On a slight negative note it is perhaps a bit over supportive to Airbus and too negative to the US producer. It is also beautifully written unlike many academic offerings today.  

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About the author (2005)

Philip K. Lawrence is Director of the Aerospace Research Centre at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. He holds degrees in Politics, Sociology, Economics and Engineering and is the author of 7 previous books; including, Aerospace Strategic Trade, (Ashgate, 2001), Modernity and War, (Macmillan, 1999) Strategic Trade in Commercial-Class Aircraft, (RIIA, 1998) and Preparing for Armageddon (Wheatsheaf, 1988). David W. Thornton is Associate Professor in Government and History at Campbell University, North Carolina, USA. He gained his Ph.D in Political Economy from the University of North Carolina and is the author of the seminal study, Airbus Industrie: The Politics of an International Industrial Collaboration (Macmillan, 1995).

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