Measuring the Quality of Airport Cities

Executive Summary

Airport cities are new phenomena that emerge in rapidly developing metropolitan areas and become independent sources of employment, entertainment, business, and financial capital. No current framework for the assessment of their quality exists, and airport cities are perceived as a set of districts rather than a solid business unit. The identified gap in research is linked to the assessment of airport cities through a quality model, as little data is provided about their relation as units to business excellence.

Airport cities are being reviewed not as business units with a high impact on excellence and profitability but as public spaces or new forms of metropolitan centres that redefine the concept of suburbs and cities from a new perspective. Such perception of airport cities leads to their defragmentation, where each of the sections of the unit is perceived separately from the rest, which interferes with the manager’s ability to evaluate their quality and impact on different business dimensions discussed below.

The inability to perceive airport cities in their entirety leads to a lack of research about their function. Leadership, processes, human resources, and partnerships of each district are observed at the local level, with no regard to their overall influence on the airport or the city. Thus, airport cities are perceived as parts of transport hubs rather than particular units that impact the aviation business on a greater level and directly influence the competitiveness in this area. Such perception can lead to a misinterpretation of data related to quality management of airports.

The research aims to investigate the EFQM Excellence Model as a suitable framework for the standardized assessment of the quality of airport cities. The EFQM Excellence Model is a framework that evaluates different dimensions of business (e.g., leadership, people, customers, employees, partnerships, and resources, etc.) and their impact on overall business effectiveness and excellence.

The purpose of the study is to evaluate whether the EFQM Excellence Model can be used as a basis for creating standardized pillars of measuring airport cities’ quality. The suggested hypotheses are:

  • H1: The EFQM is a suitable framework for evaluating quality of airport cities.
  • H2: The EFQM can become the basis for developing standardized pillars for quality measurement of airport cities.

Methods of analysis include a qualitative review of secondary data and content analysis. The author intends to use existing research on airport cities and their quality assessment in order to examine whether the EFQM Excellence Model is a suitable framework for measuring the quality of these units. Additionally, the author also aims to address the lack of information in current research on the assessment of airport cities within any quality models.

The current approach toward the measurement of airport cities’ quality relies on their division into different districts (logistics, education, accommodation, etc.), whereas their overall effectiveness and quality are not addressed. The advantage of secondary data analysis is that it will not lead to redundant research and relies on data obtained from previous researches. The limitation of this method is its inability to generate new, unique data that might provide additional insights into the problem. Nevertheless, secondary data and content analysis will help the author to not only address current gaps in research but also suggest a new solution to the identified issue.

Introduction and Research Background

Airport cities are relatively new phenomena that are currently emerging in different urban centers and near airline hubs. Due to their novelty, no framework exists to assess their quality and impact on the business excellence of an organisation. Current research addresses airport cities as a unique phenomenon with no regard to the assessment of their effectiveness, and the research about the application of existing frameworks to airport cities is scarce. Airport cities in the UK and UAE are rarely addressed in current research as well.

Problem Definition

The expansion of commercial aviation locally and globally leads not only to the need for the development of the airport’s infrastructure but also highly increased competitiveness in the aviation industry. The emergence of airport cities is possible due to several factors: airports can be airline hubs, business centres, cargo gateways, or everything at once. The workforce needed for maintenance of such facilities can include thousands of people, which eventually results in the emergence of airport cities that include a variety of districts (aviation, logistics, education, residential, etc.).

However, no standard framework exists to evaluate the quality of airport cities and their influence on business excellence and effectiveness. Therefore, it is impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of such airport cities without a standardized quality model. The EFQM Excellence Model is a framework that allows analysing the progression degree of an organisation in terms of specific dimensions (e.g., customers, employees, etc.). It can be viewed as a suitable framework for the assessment of the airport cities’ quality.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to analyse the EFQM Excellence Model as a potentially suitable framework for the assessment of the quality of airport cities. As no assessment standards of such cities currently exist, the study aims to examine the phenomenon of airport cities and suggest the EFQM as a potentially effective framework for the measurement of airport cities’ quality as a unit and not as a set of divided districts.

Research Questions and Research Objectives

The research questions are as follows:

  1. How can the EFQM Excellence Model be integrated into the assessment of airport cities’ quality?
  2. Is the EFQM Excellence Model a framework suitable for assessing airport cities as a unit and not a set of districts?
  3. Can pillars of measuring airport cities’ quality be created on the basis of the EFQM?

Research objectives are as follows:

  1. Examine the phenomenon of airport cities and critically assess current research on it.
  2. Evaluate whether the EFQM is a suitable model for the assessment of airport cities’ quality.
  3. Analyse how the EFQM can be applied to assess airport cities.

Literature Review

The search for suitable sources for the literature review was conducted using Google Scholar; the keywords “airport cities”, “airport cities quality”, “EFQM”, and “airport city” were used. Studies older than five years were excluded from the search, as well as studies that focused on topics not directly related to the assessment of airport cities’ quality (e.g., airport branding, transportation services and social media, etc.).

Appold and Kasarda (2015) provide extensive research on the development of airport cities as the new downtowns, and emphasize their impact on the metropolitan area. Airports are rearranging space and becoming the city. The hypothesis discussed by the authors indicates that “businesses dependent upon air transport may increasingly prefer locations near air interchanges” (Appold & Kasarda, 2015, p. 1255).

A second hypothesis proposed by the authors suggests that airport cities become work and entertainment zones, which directly impacts the effectiveness of business related to tourism and air services. Saldıraner (2014) discusses requirements necessary for the establishment of an efficient airport city: common planning approach, sufficient area for the airport and airport city, the availability of business and finance, convention, logistics, shopping centers, hotels, and recreation and accommodation areas, and multimodal transportation modes. Rizzo (2014) also points out the importance of available transportation that will connect town centers with the airport city by orbital, transit corridors.

Nikolaeva (2012) argues that the unique nature of an airport city (in this case, Schipol airport) is in its ability to provide a 24/7 available public space that does not aim to be a substitute for a city center but redefines the definition of “cityness” per se. However, the quality assessment of airport cities is lacking. The majority of research focuses on it as a new phenomenon with no regard to its impact on business effectiveness and excellence.

Sections of the airport city are evaluated separately and not as a whole. The EFQM model’s “key implementation factors cover people, processes, structures, and resources that the organization can use to manage quality” (Suárez, Roldán & Calvo-Mora 2014, p. 866). It is suggested that the EFQM can be effective in measuring the processes that undergo in airport cities such as leadership, human resources, strategies, products and services, etc. to assess their current level of excellence and set further goals.

  • H1: The EFQM is a suitable framework for evaluating airport cities’ quality.
  • H2: The EFQM can become the basis for developing standardized pillars for airport cities’ quality measurement.

Research Methodology and Design

The research design is a qualitative study that will rely on secondary data analysis to answer research questions. The researcher’s goal is to utilize existing research data from journal articles, books, available surveys, and interviews to evaluate how the EFQM is used for businesses quality assessment, how airport cities’ quality is assessed by quality managers, and whether any standards can be developed on the basis of the EFQM.

The researcher aims to use content analysis to determine how airport cities’ impact on business effectiveness is discussed in the research and what gaps it does not address. With the help of content analysis, the researcher will be able to identify corresponding issues and themes in secondary data and examine how it correlates with the research questions and hypotheses (e.g., how the lack of standardized assessment influences cities’ effectiveness).

The advantage of secondary data analysis is that it “avoids repetition of research & wastage of resources by detailed exploration of existing research data” (Tripathy 2013, p. 1478). However, it cannot provide any unique materials or data obtained directly from the source of investigation (for example, via questionnaires and interviews).

Reporting, Timing, and Budget

The research will be divided into a series of steps, provided in the following table 1:

Table 1: Research Timing.

Data Collection October-November
Data Analysis October
Research Preparation October-November
Research Development December
Research Review December-January
Rough Draft Preparation February

As the research does not require any financial investments, it is anticipated that no budgeting is necessary for this project. However, additional interviews with individuals related to research (such as quality managers) may impact the timing of said research and postpone development and review in in the event of a shift in the interview schedule.

Reference List

Appold, SJ & Kasarda, JD 2013, ‘The airport city phenomenon: evidence from large US airports’, Urban Studies, vol. 50, no. 6, pp. 1239-1259.

Nikolaeva, A 2012, ‘Designing public space for mobility: contestation, negotiation and experiment at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’, Tijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, vol. 103, no. 5, pp. 542-554.

Rizzo, A 2014, ‘Rapid urban development and national master planning in Arab Gulf countries. Qatar as a case study’, Cities, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 50-57.

Saldıraner, Y 2014, ‘The new airport in Istanbul: expectations and opportunities’, Journal of Case Research in Business and Economics, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-15.

Suárez, E, Roldán, JL & Calvo-Mora, A 2014, ‘A structural analysis of the EFQM model: an assessment of the mediating role of process management’, Journal of Business Economics and Management, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 862-885.

Tripathy, JP 2013, ‘Secondary data analysis: ethical issues and challenges’, Iranian Journal of Public Health, vol. 42, no. 12, pp. 1478-1479.