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What are the five major considerations that contribute to Singapore Airlines' status as a world-class company?

Voted the world's best airline with a network spanning cities in more than 35 countries, Singapore Airlines corporate philosophy is to provide “A great way to fly”. To achieve that, it has centered its business model around the “provision of cutting-edge airplanes and top premium service”, and has grown to be a top class airlines company in the world. Let us consider what Japanese companies aiming for globalisation can learn from this source of sustainable competitive advantages.

Top 5 considerations for sustaining a competitive advantage

Singapore Airlines has been awarded the top accolade of world’s best airline more than any other airline since the ranking was established in 1947. It earned five stars in The World’s 5-Star Airlines, the evaluation system for global airlines by Skytrax, a British aviation services research firm, and has won Best Airline four times in the past 18 years, chosen by more than 20 million travellers.

The source of sustainable competitive advantage which has allowed it to achieve constant growth lies in the firm's solid organisational structure. The top five considerations that lead to its ongoing success are service design and development, comprehensive innovation, profit awareness among all employees, achievement of strategic and synergistic effects, and the overall development of staff.  This strategy shares something in common with the Resource-Based View advocated by American management scholar Jay & Barney and others, which includes Financial Capital, Physical Capital, Human Capital, Organisational Capital, and Ideological Capital (ideas and vision as an organisation). 

Singapore Airlines has secured these top five bases for competitive advantage by aggressively investing in a wide range of areas that are essential to promoting sustained growth, including investment in cutting-edge equipment, human resources, expansion of global networks, and an awareness of the importance of overall organisational integrity and sincerity.

The company considers the provision of the best service in the most cost effective way to be the key to its success. It is now working on how to effectively align functional strategies such as HR, marketing, and operations with these existing business strategies.

Thorough support system for human resource development

Singapore Airlines is taking an active approach to human resource development, as is the case with many companies that aim to expand their business globally. Human resource development leads to human capital and eventually generates organisational, financial, and physical capital.

As an effective means of expanding human capital, they provide all employees with a support system for developing excellent skills, including continuous training, manager training, and skills training, as well as compulsory courses planned by the Management Development Centre.

In addition, by sharing their vision of providing high-quality, valuable services with employees, the airline aims to improve productivity and efficiency while uniting the entire organisation towards the same goal. Committing to listening to and embodying the ideas of employees is also extremely effective in increasing employee motivation.

Another characteristic is that they use their human resources to differentiate themselves from competitors in the aviation industry. Highly-trained Singapore Girls (cabin crew) and premium employee services are now part of the company's brand.

Singapore Brings Out Individual Capabilities

In Japan, there is still a seniority-based personnel system, but Singaporean society conducts a merit-based personnel system. For this reason, highly-educated employees have a clear career path and work towards stepping up to a more senior role. In Singapore, it is common to change jobs without hesitation to escape a workplace where there is no opportunity to develop one's abilities and gain knowledge and experience.

Singapore Airlines continue to stimulate employees' aspirations, which is a highly efficient and effective way to develop ambitious human resources that contribute to corporate growth and nurture world-class competitiveness. Employee motivation is essential not only in the competitive aviation industry but also for other companies that operate globally.
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