Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spanair: the airline doesn't stop flying by chance (by Pedja dell'Arno)

Mr. Ferran Soriano is the author of the book "Goal: the ball doesn't go in by chance (management ideas from the world of football)." Soriano was some years ago the Chief Financial Officer of FC Barcelona, while the club was in one of the successful waves that Barça has experienced. Soriano was then relatively young, probably below his 40 (he was born in 1967). In the book, he unashamedly took a good deal of credit from some of the success on the pitch. Before his spell in the club, an even younger Soriano had sold his stake in a Telecommunications Consulting company, Cluster, just before the dot com bubble imploded. After his spell in Barça, in 2009 a group of businessmen and politicans in Catalonia chose Ferran Soriano as the chairman on Spanair, after SAS sold its controlling stake. Just two days ago Spanair suspended all the flights due to the disastrous situation of the company. Soriano has declared that the economic crisis and bad luck are to blame, and that he did all his best  to save the company in very difficult times. To me, it is one of the clearest examples of the tendency of humans to take credit for good outcomes and export blame for bad outcomes, when outcomes depend both on actions and on random or uncontrolled factors. Of course the disaster also illustrates how not to undertake industrial policy, and how a wrong interpretation of the word "competitiveness" can end up costing a lot to both users and taxpayers. By the way, just some days prior to the airline announcement, newspapers published the rumour that Soriano was being considered for a high executive position at Manchester City. Good news for United, and I don't mean the airline.

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