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The role of employee satisfaction in successful airline mergers

In early November, the Justice Department settled its suit blocking the merger of American Airlines and US Airways and, this month, the merger was completed. The original suit claimed “airline consolidation had gone too far and the proposed merger would lead to higher fares for consumers.” In the end, having the two airlines concede to surrendering some take off and landing spots at certain airports would “foster competition and lead to low prices.” So the merger continues.

Airline mergers are nothing new in the industry; as noted in an MIT Sloan Management Review (SMR) interview with Tom Kochan, Professor of Work and Employment Research and Engineering Systems at MIT Sloan, “Airline companies may be the business everyone fantasizes the most about trying to fix.” As experts quoted in the recent article in The New York Times, Concession in Airline Merger is Criticized,” airline mergers create “unprecedented pricing power” and are designed to cut operational costs. But, as the story notes, “merged airlines have had varied levels of success in meshing their operations and achieving the ‘synergies’ they sought.”

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Happier employees sell more fries

The signs held by recent striking fast food employees say, “We are worth more.” They are, in fact, right. Retail employees are worth more, and paying them more can result in higher profits.

Those retailers who doubt this should take a close look at Costco, Trader Joe’s, and QuikTrip Corporation (a convenience store chain). Those firms, according to Zeynep Ton, Adjunct Associate Professor of Operations Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, pay their employees well—and it shows in the firms’ profits.

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