A Strategic Variance Analysis of the Profitability of U.S. Network Air Carriers
AbstractAirlines, as part of their strategic planning process, articulate positions with regard to cost leadership, product differentiation, and growth. Decisions implemented are dynamic and inter-temporal in nature. Therefore, it is often difficult to assess the effectiveness of changes in strategies, particularly since such effectiveness is often a function of the confounding forces of organizational strategy and market conditions. Managers thus need a multi-period methodology to evaluate the implementation of strategic positions. One such approach is the strategic variance analysis of operating income. Horngren et al. (2000, 2006, 2012) demonstrate a methodological template for decomposing operating income into three components: (1) growth, (2) price recovery, and (3) productivity. It is suggested that the price recovery component assesses a firm’s product differentiation strategy and that the productivity component assesses a firm’s low-cost strategy. Thus, this framework is very much in the spirit of Porter’s (1980) seminal work.This study examines U.S. network airlines in the post-9/11 environment. Utilizing the above methodology, it first identifies comparative strategic positions across airlines and then assesses the implementation efficacy of these positions.