The aim of the research reported in this thesis is to investigate and understand the
strategic management of airports. More specifically, the research focuses on regional
airports in the UK; it charts the ways in which their strategic management capacities
have changed in recent decades with regard to external pressures associated with
increasing commercialisation and government policy on the ownership and control of
The significance of those external pressures is discussed, especially in the light of
privatisation. Within this context, key concepts of strategic management are presented
and the application of the cultural web model is discussed, in order to explore the
links between strategic management, organisational behaviour and the external
operating environment of regional airports.
Using a case study approach and qualitative research methods, two regional airports
have been selected for an in-depth comparative investigation: Inverness (which
remains in public ownership) and East Midlands (which is in private ownership).
The conclusions which emerge from the case study evidence suggests that there are
significant differences in the strategic management capacities of regional airports in
the UK, and these differences reflect their ownership and control. Although there is
much evidence that differences between public and private airports are reducing -
mainly due to the heightened commercial awareness of the former - it is clear that,
unlike publicly owned airports, the transfer of ownership from public to private does
indicate a transformation in organisational culture. Unlike their publicly owned
counterparts, strategic objectives are clear and well established; minimising costs is a
well focused strategic priority; and the pursuit of efficiency is a key strategic driver of
The thesis concludes with sorne critical. reflections on the research undertaken and
suggests areas for future investigation.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.