Passenger Service Systems Adoption in the Context of Inter-organisational Systems and Home-region Orientation: An Explanatory Embedded Case Study with Three Alliance Airlines in East Asia
This study explains the factors that influence Passenger Service Systems (PSS) adoption by mainly revealing ‘why’ and ‘how’ international airlines adopt PSS. Since the mid-2000s, many commercial carriers have operated PSS, which is known as a platform-based airline distribution and passenger services solution. Recent Information Systems (IS) research on air travel and passenger services has focused on investigating online users’ behaviour and on exploring individual factors in the use of PSS, mostly relying on quantitative techniques. Importantly, a small number of PSS-related studies on a company level illuminate the cases of airlines in the Western world, while similar topics on the Asian carrier cases in English are sparse. Adopting a qualitative positivist paradigm, the present researcher conducted an explanatory embedded case study with three East Asian carriers within a global alliance. In systematically explaining their PSS adoption in a three-stage process—decision making, resource allocation and full conversion—this study is rooted in the theoretical foundation of Inter-organisational Systems (IOS) adoption and home-region orientation (HRO) in the context of international business to identify possible factors of IOS adoption and HRO in the extant western literature. It then explains causal influences on PSS adoption in the technological, organisational and environmental contexts and also uncovers strategic and operational benefits of business value from PSS. To do this, a multi-case study carried out, involving three international airlines in East Asia. After three on-site interviews with key PSS-related personnel of the allied airline in Japan, Korea and Taiwan and secondary data collection from industry reports, business websites and newspaper accounts, it employed deductive content analysis using multiple qualitative coding skills and a cognitive causal mapping approach to visualise the influential relationships in a non-hierarchical network form. The key findings across the target airlines explain, firstly, the common reasons for adoption PSS were to (i) develop their global network, (ii) provide seamless travel services, and (iii) establish a strategic partnership. Next, interoperability and common platform in the technological context influenced their decision making; thereinto, expert training and top management support were core organisational drivers for decision making and resource allocation. Also, within the environmental context, while mimetic pressure and vendor support were examined as major influential factors in decision making and full conversion, coercive forces showed little influence on PSS adoption. Lastly, business value from PSS reveals not only wider access to global markets and greater competitive services at a strategic level, but also overall cost reduction at an operational level; the size of lowering the operation cost in the long-term varies by airline. This empirical study significantly contributes to academia and the industry; in particular, transforming a static model of IOS adoption factors influencing outcomes to a dynamic model showing the PSS adoption mechanisms should be of value to qualitative scholars and professional practitioners whose research interests include PSS adoption. Theoretical interpretation from the in-depth interviews with key members of PSS decision teams and a wealth of secondary sources could offer transferable insights and knowledge to comparable practices in airlines, and potentially in other global enterprises. This thesis should be useful for home-region oriented airlines to understand better the phenomena of PSS adoption and impacts on airline business.