Airport Security Recruitment | Management Dissertations
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The Recruitment of personnel is a very important task which in larger organizations is usually conducted by a Human Resource department or in smaller organizations by the responsible individual, either way it is very important to make the right decision in the selection process since mistakes can have catastrophic consequences for the organization. If the recruitment and selection process is poorly conducted meaning that the wrong candidate has been employed can result in long lasting damage caused by the employee. The employee could spoil relationships with customers and suppliers, negatively affect the production and the quality of service and even influence the commitment of colleges. In the extreme case mistakes in the recruitment and selection process could result in the bankruptcy of the company. (Dale, 2003)
Due to the threat of criminal acts and terrorism imposed on air travel, companies in the aviation industry face many regulations which intend to regulate the effectiveness and contribute to the safety of air travel.
Employees in this industry often operate very sensitive and expensive equipment therefore governments and Airport operators require employees to undergo a variety background checks to ensure, as good as possible, that the individual has no intention to misuse his privileges of employment for any criminal activity. Some countries even require background checks which include biometric data such as fingerprints and the scanning of facial features to verify the employees identity. (Wells &Young 2004; Kenneth 1991)
Companies are facing difficulties associated with criminal acts and terrorism. If an employee misuses his access to the "secure area" to commit a crime which can cost the lives of humans the employer could be sued for compensation as well negligent hire. In addition, in such a case, authorities might question the companies' reliability and thoroughness and might put the company out of business. Customers might question the reliability and the quality of service provided which can easily lead to the failure of the business. not to mention ethical issues when it comes to the lives of people.
Recruiters have to face such issues when searching for new employees.
A mistake in the recruitment process can not only lead to the failure of the business but can also cost lives of human beings.
1.1 Research Questions
This Thesis' ojective is to:
Examine which channels are being used for the recruitment of personnel in the "secure" area of airports?
Find out if background checks are being conducted in excess of the "Zuverlassigkeitsuberprufung" required by law?
And weather or not the mandatory background checks have an influence on the selection of the recruitment channels?
2 Setting the Scene
2.1 Airport Environment
The airports are in many ways unique environments. Airlines transport passengers and cargo from and to nearly every part of the world. Thousands of passengers and tons of cargo need to be handled and processed as fast, effective and safe as possible. It is therefore very important to coordinate all ground handling procedures as effective as possible. Many Airlines have outsourced their ground handling to save costs. This led to the fact, that many firms offer ground services such as loading, boarding, check-in or catering as well as maintenance service and provide aircrews with briefing information and documentation needed to conduct their flights. Airports are home to not only airlines but as a result of the outsourcing of the various services airlines need, many businesses have developed, providing equal services that their customers request. Especially at major airports airlines can chose from a number of companies providing ground handling services. This leads to another special characteristic of the work at airports, since various companies provide their services and products for their customers (Airlines) working in a relatively small area. It is well possible that a companies' biggest competitor is located just next door and both their employees share the same facilities such as dining rooms etc.
2.2 Different Areas at airport
According to Wells & Young (2004) the Airport premises can be categorized into 6 areas.
The public area of an airport is freely accessible for everyone. This area usually includes parking lots, terminal lobbies, Check-in areas, Passenger pick up areas and the curb frontage.
The air operations area (AOA) is defined as all areas where aircraft movement takes place including taxiways, runways and aircraft parking areas.
The area where movement of passengers ,baggage or cargo between aircrafts and the Terminal building take place is referred to as the secure area.
The sterile area can be accessed by passing the passenger checkpoints. Therefore this area is accessible for the public but each individual and his or hers property will be inspected by security personnel. This area includes duty free shops, restaurants etc and boarding areas.
SIDA is short for "security identification display area" and defines the area within which all persons must display the required identification or be accompanied by an authorized individual. Usually the SIDA includes the "air operation area" as well as the "secure area".
2.2 Threat of criminal activity and Terrorism
"Terrorism is defined by the US Department of Defense as "the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives" (Martin 2006). Furthermore does Criminal activity include acts of assault, theft, and vandalism against passengers and their property, aircraft, and all airport facilities (Wells & Young 2004).
The first act associated with terrorism occurred in 1930 when Peruvian revolutionaries took over the control of an Pan American mail plane with the intention to drop propaganda leaflets over Lima (US Centennial of Flight Commission). In the five years between 1968 and 1972 acts of terrorism in the form of hijacking were at its peak. During that time the U.S. Department of Transportation recorded 364 Hijackings worldwide.
In recent history terrorism has taken an even more threatening shape.
On September 11th 2001 four commercial airliners were hijacked of which three were intentionally piloted into the two Towers of the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon (Security Council, 2001). The Hijackers managed to take weapons through the passenger security check points and onto the aircrafts. As a result of these horrible attacks almost 3000 people, mostly civilians lost their lives. (CNN, 2006)
These attacks clearly show what effect a breach in security can have.
With over a thousand flights a day transporting approximately 45 million passengers per year, JFK International Airport in New York is one of the busiest in the world.
In June 2007 four individuals have been charged with conspiring to attack the JFK International Airport in New York. Their intention was to bomb the Terminal building, the jet fuel reservoirs and a fuel pipeline. The four individuals belonged to an extremist group based in Trinidad. One of them is a former JFK Airport employee who worked for a cargo Handling company with access to the secure area of the airport. Different law enforcement agencies have observed these men and seven additional individuals who they believed to be compliances for a period of 18 months. Fortunately this suspected terrorist plot was at an early stage of planning their attacks and were stopped early enough. (CBS)
This case is a clear example of how legal employment and its privileges can be misused for criminal activity and terrorist acts.
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) was signed resulting from the attacks on September 11, 2001 which implemented the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the USA. Its objective was and still is together with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to increase airport and aviation security. Their work and changes in restrictions and safety recommendation have also affected Air Transportation in many other countries such as all over Europe (Wells & Young 2004).
As the previous examples show, terrorism is a realistic and constantly present threat which Aviation security has to deal with.
2.4 Problems of airport regulatory policies
All airport operations are subject to national, state and local laws. Since these laws can vary within countries and regions it affects the airport operations respectively (Wells & Young 2004). In addition, many organisation have formed over the past decades that influence airport policies to a local and even international extend. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was born in 1967 but has existed in a different form since 1933. Its purpose is to improve the safety and efficiency of aviation primarily in the United States but its restrictions and recommendations influence Air travel on a worldwide basis (Federal Aviation Administration).
The body of the Joint Aviation Authorities represents the aviation authorities of the European States and was founded in 1970, originally named Joint Airworthiness Authorities and received its current name in 1990. Its objectives are similar to those of the FAA with an emphasise on "International Standardisation" and a tighter co-operation with the FAA as well as the ensuring of fair and equal conduct of business in the industry (Joint Aviation Authorities).
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) was established 1944 with the objective to enhance the cooperation between member states. Its major concerns are the regulation of technical issues such as navigational rules. The ICAO currently counts 190 members (International Civil Aviation Organisation).
Even though aviation including airport operations underlies the laws of each country individually the organisations mentioned above have a great influence on the day to day operations civil aviation and determine to a large degree how all aviation related processes are conducted.
3 Literature Review
Recruitment is defined as "the set of activities and processes used to legally obtain a
sufficient number of qualified people at the right place and time so that the people and the
organisation can select each other in their own best short and long term interests" (Schuler& Randall 1987).
Recruitment is defined as the "Process of identifying the best-qualified candidate from within or outside of an organization for a job vacancy, in a most timely and cost effective manner"(Businessdictionary.com).
The process of 'Selection' which is often integrated in the Recruitment process is the action of choosing suitable candidates from among the potential candidates previously determined
(The Times 100).
3.1 Range of Recruitment Channels:
When an organization is in need of employees it has different recruitment channels available.
In general one has to differentiate between internal and external recruitment of personnel. The following describes the mostly used recruitment channels available to most organization to fill an open post.
3.2 Internal Recruitment
Internal recruitment is the promotion of a job vacancy inside the organization. This channel of recruitment can take the shape of posting the job vacancy in the company or transferal of existing personnel. (Dessler 2000)
There is a range of advantages associated with internal recruitment. In the case of promotion the job applicant is already known to the organization and the management is in most cases aware of his abilities and skills. Furthermore it is usually easier to train staff which has been working in the company before because of the familiarity to the companies` environment and its day to day operations. In addition, transferring existing personnel is cheaper and less time consuming than the recruitment through external sources and the transferal can increase the motivation of the employee which in return results in an increase in the quality of performance of the respective employee. Disadvantages associated with internal recruitment could be that due to a limited quantity of employees the organization might be unable to find a suitable candidate for promotion. Another problem can occur if through promotion of existing personnel the initial position becomes vacant and personnel is missing at another level in the organization. (Richardson 2006)
3.3 External Recruitment
External Recruitment can either be formal or informal.
Formal recruitment channels have the characteristic that the recruiting company and the applicant have no previous connection. Examples for external, formal recruitment are advertisements in newspapers Journals or magazines as well as Temporary work agencies and Recruitment Agencies along with Recruitment Fairs. (Richardson 2006)
Informal Recruitment on the other hand does not reach as much potential applicants as the formal way. The employer usually has knowledge of the applicant as in the case of re-hiring former employees or in the case of a referral from a current employee.(Richardson 2006)
3.3.1 Print media:
When recruiters choose print media to advertise a job vacancy they have the option to choose between local or national newspapers or Trade and Professional journals. Each of the ones mentioned above usually tend to have certain advantages and disadvantages depending on the advertised job. Ads being places in local newspapers tend to be cheaper than in the local press but on the other hand national newspapers therefore have higher circulation and cover a wider geographical area than local newspapers. Newspapers often tend to attract elderly people because of their relative unfamiliarity with the internet as an alternative resource, therefore newspapers often display advertisements for senior positions (Dale, 2003; Roberts, 2000).
If a company intends to attract applicants with specific skills or knowledge placing the ad in a specialist periodical or trade journal seems appropriate since these journals are more likely to be read by individuals with the respective professional background which helps to target the intended group of people (Roberts, 2000).
3.3.2 Word of mouth recruitment
According to Dale (2003) who is supported by Cook (1988) claims that many employees get into touch with other employees and after their dismissal from the company they remain in touch with their former colleagues due to same job interest or for other reasons, this gives employers the chance to recruit personal from this source. If a current employee becomes aware of a job vacancy within the company, he might forward this information to former colleagues he has worked with in the past. This applies to the recruitment of personnel for all hierarchical levels within organizations. A major advantage when using this channel is that the promoted colleague (applicant) has often worked in the industry before and matches the advertised criteria pretty well and the costs of using this channel are very low for the company compared to other channels.
The use of the internet to recruit personnel has increased tremendously when compared to the time ten years ago. The advantages seem obvious as the recruiters can reach potential applicants almost world-wide. In addition the submission of applications via internet is faster than via mail and can save the company and the applicant money. Companies who advertise job vacancies online might on the other hand experience an excess amount of applications of people who do not match the published criteria but still submit their application because the cost of application is low (Dale, 2003).
In addition companies received many applications which did not meet basic requirements and contained too many spelling mistakes or were formally unacceptable. According to a research by the IT services firm Parity has revealed that from 2001 and 2004 companies in the UK have pulled out of online advertising due to the relatively large portion of unsuitable applications while an increasing number of people is using the internet to search for job vacancies.Implementation of a certain software could overcome this problem. Companies might consider using online testing before the application is being submitted or simply use CV scanning software to filter applications that that do not meet minimum criteria posted by the advertising company (Amble 2004).
3.3.4 Recruitment Agencies
Using an agency to recruit personnel can have many advantages. Recruitment agencies usually have a high competency in placing advertisements for job vacancies in different media. Due to the high frequency of placing such ads these agencies acquire higher discounts which are often passed on to the customer (companies in search for employees). Due to their technical expertise and experience in describing the vacant position along with the requirements for the job applicant, recruitment agencies are able to achieve a relatively high response rate from applicants and minimize the portion of unsuitable and unwanted applications.(Roberts 2000)
3.3.5 Head Hunting
Recruitment Agencies often specialize in Head Hunting as a channel to recruit personnel for their customers. HeadHunting can be understood as the act of approaching a current employee directly and convincing him or her to work for another employer. This is a commonly used technique when companies are in need of special personnel with skills higher than average. (BNET)
According to Maurice Ellett, director of Signum Executive Search International and Don Jaine, director of Swann Group, Headhunting is very useful when a company is in need of executive employees. This group of employees are relatively hard to find and very hard to access through the different ways of advertising a vacant position since currently employed executives often do not respond to ads placed in newspapers or trade journals and will most likely not be found on internet job search sites. (Prattley 2007)
Campbell Hepburn, the acting general manager for Hudson Recruitment's Wellington agency disagrees by claiming that companies need to consider every possibly way to advertise for a job vacancy even if a high profile candidate is needed. That would include newspapers, trade journals the internet etc. Hepburn additionally sees an ethical problem in the fact that many recruitment agencies contact individuals who are currently working for their own clients. Once an individual has been successfully recruited it is easier to keep track of his performances and re- recruit him afterwards. Therefore most search consultants in that industry do not recruit personnel from previous clients for a limited period of time. Additionally the restraint of trade clauses in many employee contracts prohibit an employee to work for a competitor for a certain period of time after his previous contract has been terminated. (Prattley 2007)
Head hunting can be a very useful way to recruit appropriate personnel but as stated above, can have a downside if the head hunting agency turns toward previous clients to recruit for other clients.
3.3.6 Recruitment Fairs
Recruitment Fairs are organized events intending to bring employers and job seekers together.
These fairs often take place to freshly graduated college students to make initial contact with a company they are aiming to work for. Furthermore companies have a chance to present themselves in terms of their products, environment or future outlooks of the industry etc.
Often these events are designed for companies of a certain industry to better match the demands for applicants and employers.
Disadvantages could be the relatively expensive and time consuming set up as well as the fact that the applicant does not experience the real environment that the company is working in.
But all in all Recruitment fairs offer a great opportunity for both sides, recruiters and job seekers, to arrange further meetings and interviews.
3.3.7 Temporary work agencies
Making use of temporary work agencies is a way outsourcing the recruitment. The workforce usually has a contractual relationship with the agency and if a client is in need of employees the agency provides them for it. (Mehta & Theodore 2003) This form of accessing workforce has grown to a huge industry in recent history as in the USA from 1993 to 2000 the demand for temporary workers has increased by over 90 %. (Brogan 2001)
Van der Heijden (1995; cited in Koene et al.(2004)) claims and is supported by Timmerhuis and De Lange (1998; cited in Koene et al (2004)) that the main reasons for companies to acquire temporary workforce are due to seasonal fluctuations, unexpected peaks, economic cycles or simply if a temporary replacement is needed for a permanent employee.
According to Segall and Sullivan (1997) temporary workers in return have to suffer from certain disadvantages compared to a permanent employment. Temporary workers usually have less labor market security than permanent workers and are more prone to possible unemployment and even the wage is in average 20 % below those of permanent employees.
The results is supported by an analysis conducted by the OECD in 2002 on 28 states that temporary work is most likely found in positions of rather unskilled labour as well as administrative staff and medical labour exercising rather lower skilled tasks. (OECD, 2002 cited in Koene et al (2004))
3.4 Pre employment screening
Robert Woodman, president and founder of Berkeley International Intelligence Inc., a business investigation company highly recommends to conduct intensive screening of applicants before they are being employed. Referring to an example in which a Toronto based non profit organization which operated retirement and nursing homes employed a new director to raise funds for a new project. The director shortly after employment submitted false pledge certificates with forged signatures and additionally turned in numerous bills for her expenses including expensive Hotel-, restaurant- and even limousine service bills. As company investigators accused her of fraud she disappeared shortly after but was arrested and convicted for several counts of fraud and received a four-year prison sentence. Since most of the money she gained was already spend, she will not be able to pay back the full amount.
Further investigation into the directors past revealed that she was not properly screened before being employed. A background check would have revealed that she has committed similar crimes and caused damage to three previous employers. (Woodman 2006)
Benoff (1989) and Brennan (1997) give more example of employees without background checks, committing crimes at work where at the end the employer was being sued and found guilty of negligent hiring.
Personnel is a very important asset in every company. The recruitment process is time consuming and can be very expensive. But companies can not risk to make poor decisions in this process since employing the wrong personnel can make the difference between success and failure of a business since companies can be held responsible for their employees. (Lam & Kleiner 2001)
Background checks can be expensive but the cost associated with bad performances, theft of assets or confidential information as well as the costs associated with possible law suits is much higher. (Norred 1993)
Companies basically have two options to collect the data needed. Either they investigate an applicant by implementing their own employment security department (internal) or companies can contact professional employee screening companies to collect the date for them (externally).
3.4.2 Employer References
To inquire information about a job applicant from a previous employer is a useful way of verifying the authenticity of information provided by the applicant. The problem associated with this method is that there might be a number of employers who do not give any information at all, often because of the fear of being sued for invasion of privacy by the former employee and if they do, the information might be very basic. But in general it is recommended since the new employer can learn about some ones employment dates, job titles and responsibilities of the tasks performed by the former employee as well as get information about working habits which are often very valuable. (Lam & Kleiner 2001)
3.4.3 Academic References
To check academic references is fairly easy, the employer can ask the applicant provide proof or just request information from the institution the applicant has stated. (Doty-Navarro & Kleiner) This seems to be highly recommended especially if a company is recruiting to fill a vacancy which required certain skills and knowledge such as a special education since people tend to make more false statements about their academic references than over previous employment references. Therefore companies should be aware of the authenticity of an applicants academic background. (Kaiser-Lee 1995)
3.4.4 Credit Records
If an employee is in contact with company money or other valuable goods it is recommended to run a credit history check which comes in the form of a credit report and can obtained through credit agencies. Credit Reports contain information about bankruptcies, legal judgments, tax liens, credit card balances as well as child support obligations. Credit reports can give a rough idea about the financial situation of an individual and can help to evaluate the risk of the employee committing theft (Doty-Navarro & Kleiner 2000).
3.4.5 Driving Record
If the employee operates a company vehicle, a driving record should be obtained in advance. The employer is obliged to verify that the person operating the vehicle is legally certified by asking to present the driver license. If the employer fails to comply, the company will be liable for all the damage the employee has caused with the company vehicle.
Driving records can be requested through governmental bureaus and contain data such as traffic violations as well as other driving related offences such as if the driving privileges were suspended. (Steingold 1994)
3.4.6 Criminal Records
According to (Doty-Navarro & Kleiner 2000) the need for running a criminal record check is very important if the future employee will deal with sensitive and valuable assets for example driving a company car or having access to cash registers. They also emphasize on the urgency to perform a criminal record check to avoid law suits for negligent hire by customers in case the employee gets involved in criminal activity during his employment.
But there are certain difficulties associated with the completeness of these records.
Odom (1995) points out certain limitations such as the limited accessibility of criminal record databases. He also claims that different courts, depending on their geographic and legal jurisdiction do not report to the same databases and some courts do not have to report to a database at all. The conclusion is that criminal databases are everything but complete and investigators, internal or external, sometimes have to go through intensive investigation to get an authentic result.
3.4.7 External employee screening
Companies performing background checks serving other companies from different industries have soared in the US in recent past. According to Terhune (2008) the biggest US companies in the business are Choicepoint (Alpharette, GA) serving Wal Mart and UPS among others, USIS (Falls Church, VA) serving Federal agencies along with Transportation companies, First Advantage (Powey, GA) , providing services to companies in the manufacturing and financial sectors. These companies business is to screen people in every legal way possible. (Terhune 2008) The services they provide include the checking of criminal records, driving records, credit histories (including bankruptcy filings, tax liens, legal judgments and lawsuits), as well as "investigative consumer reports" which contains information gathered through interviews with friends, neighbors, former co-worker and in some cases even family members with the aim to reveal data about some ones personality. (McGreevy 2007)
Since the major employee screening companies conduct their background checks specialising on only few industries, providing their information to even bigger companies on a regular basis, they even maintain their own or shared databases containing information about individuals who have worked in the respective industry before. These databases include statements of previous employers about individuals such as the reason of dismissal and even accusations of criminal acts without legal proof from a court. (Terhune 2008) This practically means that individuals seeking jobs can be accused of having conducted a criminal act in the past even though they have not been convicted for a crime by a court of law.
Terhune (2008) emphasises this matter with an example of Truck driver who was employed by Marten Transport based in Mondovi, Wisconsin. He was dismissed from the company after only two weeks as a result of his numerous complaints about the safety of the truck he was driving. He sued Marten Transport and was awarded with over 31.000 US Dollars in back pay. In addition, the judge ordered Marten Transport to remove any "unfavourable work record information" from a database named DAC which is maintained by USIS. As he shortly after his dismissal from Marten Transport re-applied for a job at J.B. Hunt Services, his application was denied due to his DAC record stating that he was dismissed due to "excessive complaints". (Terhune 2008) furthermore refers to a comment to this example by Kristen Turley, the director of market development and communications at USIS who claims that their system (as used in regards to the DAC database) contains mistakes and in the case of false information being submitted USIS would require proof from the previous employer to undermine his accusations. USIS does not ask for proof up front since their belief is that this would hold past employers from submitting information in the first place.
3.4.8 Background checks required by law
To access the secure area of an airport all individuals whom is granted access on a regular basis (excluding passengers) need to be issued an SIDA badge. Before the SIDA badge is issued the German law requires background checks. According to .7 of the German Aviation Security Act (Luftsicherheitsgesetz) the German Department of Aviation Security (Luftsicherheitsbehorde), who's purpose is to serve the safety and security of Air Transportation, has to conduct a "Background check on authorized staff", the so called "Zuverlassigkeitsuberprufung", which applies to:
(1). Individuals who require access to the secure area of airport on a regular basis for the purpose of employment. This includes personnel working for companies operating in the secure area of an airport as well as airline personnel.
(2) Individuals who work for or act on behalf of the German Department of Aviation Security
(3) Airmen and Student Pilots
(4) as well as individuals who require access to the secure area on a regular basis for private purposes as in the case of the operation of a non profit organization like a "Club".
In terms to receive the SIDA badge the applicant has to submit an application form including copies of his passport or personal ID card. In addition the applicant has to state his residencies (including addresses) of the past 10 years.
In a first step the German Department of Aviation Security verifies the applicants identity.
In the second step of the checking process the department will request any information listed in the Federal Central Criminal Register (Luftfahrtbundesamt).
The Federal Central Criminal Register is a database maintained by the Federal Department of Justice. This register collects information about legal convictions by criminal courts of German citizens with a permanent residency in Germany and abroad as well as foreigners with a permanent residency in Germany. It also collects data of legal convictions German citizens by all criminal courts in foreign countries and of foreign citizens with a permanent Residency in Germany (Bundesamt fur Justiz 2007).
The Background check furthermore includes the request of any information listed at the Federal office for the Defense of Constitution, whos purpose is, along with the Federal Intelligence Service to observe and defend the country against extremists, spies and people or organizations who intend to compromise the constitution. (NTV)
It also includes the request of information listed at Law enforcement agency in each State. In the case of suspicion, the Federal Intelligence Service along with the Federal office of Criminal Investigation may be contacted for further investigation (Personenverkehr in Deutschland 2006) as well as the Customs Criminological Office which investigates into criminal acts associated with smuggling of illegal devices and substances into the country such as drugs or weapons. (Zoll 2006)
The Department of Aviation Security may additionally contact the current employer as well as the employer who submitted the application and the Airport Operator has doubts of any kind persist. If the Department of Aviation security is not convinced that the applicant poses no threat to airport and aviation security the application will be rejected and the applicant will be informed about the decision and the reason. (Luftfahrt Bundesamt)
In the following chapter the author describes the two adopted research approaches. The author furthermore provides explanations and reasons for the use of primary research.
4.2 Secondary Research
When using secondary data the researcher collects information which has previously been collected and analysed for another reason by various authors. (Hakim 1982)
Secondary data can take the form of qualitative and quantitative data.
Quantitative data includes numerical data as well as data that can be quantified to support the research questions. (Saunders et al. 2000)
In contrast, qualitative data is collected in a different manner, such as interviews and is therefore a more thorough and in depth acquisition of data than quantitative data aquisition which implies that the qualitative data is mostly based on thoughts, opinions and experiences of only a few individuals. (Dey 1993)
For the purpose of this thesis the author has used secondary data in form of journals from different sources like Emerald, Nexis and ProQuest as well as articles from various news stations along with books from the Northumbria University and journals and chapters extracted from books from the Embry-Riddly Aeronautical University, (Daytona Beach, FL Campus) and at last data from governmental institutions such as the German Department of Aviation Security and the Federal office of civil Aeronautics (LBA).
The key words that were typed into the search engine of the databases especially connected to the research topic were Recruitment and Selection, High Security Employment, Airport Employment, Pre-Employment Screening, Background Checks, Airport Management and other words with similar meaning and in various combinations.
Secondary data can be of advantage since it can be obtained very fast and regularly at low costs. If read critically the data collected may provide useful and high quality information which can be derived from the respective source. (Stewart & Kamins 1993)
There are certain difficulties associated with secondary data within this thesis. First of all, the validity of the information gathered can not be ensured by the author due to the fact of the constantly changing environment of the Aviation industry in term of legal requirements and regulations. Secondly, it sometimes proved difficult to use collected secondary data due to the complexity and variety of regulating instances in the Aviation industry which sometimes led to the finding of literature which was unsuitable for the European and in detail for the German Aviation industry. Some minor parts of the secondary research contain information about legal requirements which serve the purpose to support primary data but may only be applicable to primary research conducted in an area under the jurisdiction of German laws. Both limitations mentioned above match with Denscombe (1998), claiming that secondary data served a particular purpose which may differ from the research objectives the data is then used for.
Another limitation generally associated with secondary research is the possibility of biases.
Even if ones analysis is critical when reading secondary sources, the researcher is in many cases not aware of possible biases of the author (Jacob, 1994).
4.3 Primary Research
Positivism and phenomenologist are the two main research approaches concerning primary research.
In the positivism approach the researcher takes a remote position when analysing the data acquired. It serves the purpose to process the data without any form of evaluation or judgement about the meaning. In this approach a relatively small sample is being projected onto a larger group with equal properties which are subject to the research objective. A quantitative research method would be in its nature rather positivistic. (Gill & Johnson, 1997; Remenyi et al.,1998)
The phenomenologist point of view disagrees with generalisation by the application of a series of laws. Due to the complexity generalisation may not be the appropriate approach to explain circumstances of social origin like in the example of business science. A qualitative method would be in its nature rather phenomenological. (Saunders et al., 2000)
The author of this thesis in, regards to the research objectives, agrees to a large extend with Saunders et al. (2000) assuming the nature of the phenomenological approach. Therefore a qualitative research method is applied in this research project.
4.3.1 Reason for Qualitative Method
A quantitative method by using a questionnaire which will then be handed out to numerous individuals has almost no chance to succeed. The research questions are highly sensitive, especially in that particular industry which leaves almost no other choice but to implement a qualitative research method. Since the research questions cover two relatively large areas of the recruitment process the author expects thorough and detailed information provided by the investigated subjects.
To acquire these data the author has to rely on a qualitative method by using interviews.
4.3.2 Interview Guide
Two interviewees are questioned to collect information which will later be essentially supportive in answering the research questions.
Saunders et al. (2000) generally distinguish between structured-, semi-structured-, and unstructured interviews. In semi- structured interviews the interviewer's list of questions can vary depending on the organizational context in regard to the research questions as well as on the overall flow of each independent conversation with the interviewee.
The author assumes that the use of semi structured interviews is the most promising way of receiving answers to the questions.
The Aviation Business in Europe and especially in Germany has not been thoroughly studied from an academic view. Europe has much less academic institutions researching the Aviation industry in detail than for example the USA.
The objectives in this thesis have certain characteristics of an exploratory study in which the author intends to reveal the correlation between two variables (Cooper & Schindler 1998): background checks and recruitment channels.
According to Robson (1993) in-depth as well as semi-structured interviews are helpful to reveal new insights into the area of interest.
According to Saunders et al. (2000, p.245) "semi-structured interviews may be used in order to understand the relationships between variables".
Furthermore the use of open questions appears appropriate. Open questions have the advantage that the interviewee tends to provide an extensive amount of answers and reasons. They also provide more flexibility for the interviewee which contributes to the amount of information that can be obtained (Grummitt, 1980)
4.3.3 Selection of the respondents
The author intended to focus his research towards companies who's employees work in the "secure area" of airports. There are many different businesses located at airports like for example car rental companies, restaurants, shops etc. but restaurant as well as for example duty free shop employees usually have very limited access to only very few areas of the airport premises. Therefore the author aimed at companies who employ personnel with access to most areas of the airport premises. Usually this kind of personnel works for companies who provide services for Airlines and privately operated aircrafts.
The author decided to direct the questions towards a Handling Agent and a Fixed Base Operator (FBO).
A employee, competent in recruitment matters from Swissport Ground Handling GmbH Germany, who's identity must not be revealed, was interviewed. Swissport is one of the biggest Handling Agents worldwide and is currently present at over 170 airports. The company operates facilities at 13 Airport in Germany and its Ground Handling division have subsidiaries at all major airports in Germany. The company can be differentiated into Swissport Ground Handling, Swissport Cargo Services and Swissport Fueling Services. All divisions provide services for airlines including loading, cleaning and fuelling of aircrafts and are legal representatives of their customers (Airlines) at some airport where Swissport provides ticketing, check-in and other passenger services on their behalf.
Swissport Ground Handling GmbH employs around 500 staff members all over Germany.
Swissport is an appropriate candidate for the purpose of acquiring primary data because the company is a global player in the business and therefore represents one of a few very large organisations providing these services in the industry (Swissport).
Another interview has been conducted with Malanie Schreiber, Personnel Manager at German Aviation Service (GAS). GAS operates three subsidiaries at the airports in Dusseldorf, Cologne and Frankfurt and employs around 80 employees totally, at all three locations. The company represents three "fixed base operators" (FBOs) providing customized products and services, to a large extend equal to those of Swissport, mainly to the niche of the corporate aviation market (German Aviation Service).
These two companies were chosen for the interview because they meet the necessary criteria in the way that their services are mainly provided within the security area of airports.
Both companies provide equal services to their customers while one represents a global player and the other one a rather local company.
Telephone interviews have advantages which are usually characterized by a high speed of acquiring data at low costs for the interviewer (Saunders et al. 2000).
4.3.6 Ethical Issues
Before the author
The author has read and through the entire research complied with Northumbria University ethical standards.
4.4 Research Analysis
In order to answer the research objectives the author will discuss the main issues obtained through the interviews conducted by comparing these to the essential secondary research findings. Similarities as well as differences between the statements of the interviewees and the secondary information gained will be addressed and discussed.
The author will furthermore address related issues that can be derived from the information gained through the interviews and emphasize key findings and set these into a larger context to conclude possible reason.
Findings and Analysis
In this chapter the interviews the data gained primary data gained through the interviews performed will be analyzed with help of the secondary information previously collected.
Research objective 1
The first research question was to examine which channels are being used for the recruitment of personnel in the "security areas" (SIDA) of airports?
The interview with Schreiber from German Aviation Services (GAS) reveal that there are certain recruitment channels which are often being used to recruit their personnel including ads in newspapers, internet advertising as well as governmental recruitment agencies and often the word of mouth channel.
According to Schreiber advertisements in local newspapers are often being placed to attract applicants who are intended to work part-time. These applicants are often college students or others searching for jobs on a part time basis. Since the newspaper is not a special periodical the applicants often have no previous knowledge about the industry. Jobs vacancies are also being posted on special internet sites such as www.airportjobs.de and on the homepage of the Dusseldorf International Airport. This matches in part with Roberts (2000) claiming that advertisements published in special periodicals are an effective way to recruit personnel with a specific professional background. Even though the internet is not a form of print media, the concept remains the same. People with experience in the aviation industry more likely tend to search for a job vacancy on special websites.
Schreiber claims that there are certain limitations involved especially with governmental agencies. GAS has often received excessive applications of applicants who are not qualified for the job and even received application even though the job vacancy posted was already taken, because advertisements placed by agencies were not cancelled fast enough. The claims by Roberts (2000) that recruitment agencies pre-select and sort out applicants which do not meet employment criteria can not supported in this case.
Swissport on the other hand uses almost every recruitment channel to recruit personnel. But there are different channels being used depending on the type of vacancy that needs to be filled, but all channels are equally important and serve a purpose.
For GAS the most effective and very often used channel is recruitment through "word of mouth". The advantages pointed out by Schreiber are that applicants who are referred through existing employees tend to be familiar with the industry and are often aware of the tasks that are part of the job. A bigger number of these applicants have worked at an airport before and do not require as much training like those who are new to the industry which makes the employee more efficient at least during the first weeks.
Schreiber stated the same reason as Dale (2003) and Cook (1988).
At GAS the recruitment trough Head Hunting and temporary work agencies is not being practiced at all. According to Schreiber it is not necessary to employ Head Hunting agency because the industry especially on the management level is very well connected. If managers are needed the word of mouth method is again very useful.
Schreiber said: "The industry is like a big family where executives meet each other on regular basis for work shops or in some cases on private occasions"
Due to the good communication with other companies it is not necessary to employ a professional agency to search and contact senior executives". The statement of Don Jaine and Maurice Ellet (cited in Prattley (2007)) that companies need to employ Head Hunting agencies to contact candidates for executive positions can not be confirmed in the case of GAS. The statement of Campbell Hapburn (cited in Prattley (2007)) claiming that companies need to use every recruitment channel to access executives seems more suitable.
Swissport on the other hand works with head hunting companies especially for executive positions.
Another form sometimes associated with Head Hunting practices is when an employee employed at one company is being contacted during his work at the airport, through another person working for another company. Even though Head Hunting refers to the contacting of employees at management level, contacting personnel on lower levels of management show characteristics of the respective technique. Especially for Airport jobs this technique could be profitable because of the high density of potential candidates who are all working on the airport premises. According to Schreiber this behaviour can sometimes be seen but remains a rarely used method of recruitment. Schreiber said:" It is not our companies' policy to steal personnel from others".
Swissport has equal policies. If personnel are contacted by a person from another company, it never happens on behalf of the management. Most of these approaches refer to the word of mouth method when one person changes the company and was previously contacted by a friend working there.
According to Schreiber the use of temporary work agencies have too many disadvantages for the company. She stated "temporary work is relatively expensive and on the other hand the employee receives less money". Segall and Sullivan (1997) stated equal disadvantages. Another problem Schreiber announced was due to the fact that workforce from temporary work agencies are employed by the agencies and could be taken out of the company on short notice an placed into another company. GAS would only consider temporary work agencies if the employee can be bought out of the agency if necessary.
At Swissport temporary work agencies are commonly used and have certain advantages. A very big advantage is the flexibility especially during seasonal peaks for example during the long summer break and during the Christmas holidays when more people travel. This represents what Van der Heijden (1995; cited in Koene et al. (2004)) and Timmerhuis and De Lange (1998;cited in Koene et al.(2004)) stated.
But also the properties of these kinds of contracts have certain advantages for the company. In case of illness or legally required "paid vacation" the company renting personnel from an agency is not obliged to continue payments.
Swissport uses temporary work agencies for personnel in positions where rather low skills are required as well as personnel for basic administrative tasks. These positions include check-in services, passenger boarding, Ramp Handling of aircrafts, and other passenger services such as accompanying passengers with wheelchairs. Swissport performs in house training with its employees in which the employees learn the skills to perform their work in an adequate manner.
According to Nei & Abu (1999) the major part accounting for over 50 % of the total staff accessed through temporary work agencies performs rather unskilled tasks and another 25 % of these employees perform administrative tasks.
A similar scene can be observed at Swissport where temporary job agencies are employed to fill vacancies with equal or similar characteristics as Nei and Abu (1999) claim.
Research objective 2
Find out if background checks are being conducted in excess of the "Zuverlassigkeitsuberprufung" required by law?
The phone conversation with Swissport revealed no information regarding the topic of pre-employment screening in excess of the "Zuverlassigkeitsuberprufung".
Since the ZU is required by law every person who works within the "SIDA" has to undergo this background check with no exception.
In the case of GAS depending on the vacancy and the employee's application form, the company does perform further checks.
Schreiber stated: "Sometimes we do check employment references for example in the case that the CV of the applicant appears to be too perfect"
GAS checks previous employment references by calling the respective companies stated by the applicant to confirm the former employment as well as the position and tasks the employee stated in his application. If possible GAS tries to obtain reason for dismissal as well
In the case of recruiting personnel who will be in charge of money such as accountants, the company also check the background further for any indication of theft or fraud in an applicants' history. According to Kleiner & Lam (2001) GAS can profit from information gained about dates of employment, the responsibilities in that position and in some cases even the behaviour of the applicant or the reason for dismissal if the former employer is willing to answer these questions.
Even though the 'ZU' is a thorough investigation into the background and the history of any convictions related to a criminal act of an individual, the result of the 'ZU' only reveals if the individual investigated is approved for being issued an Airport ID or not. On the report which can be accessed only by the investigated individual are no statements if there were any prior convictions or not. The problem associated with this fact is that if an individual has been convicted in a court of law and the agency conducting the background check does not see any reasons to believe that the applicant poses a threat to aviation security, the agency will approve his request and a SIDA ID will be issued, for example if the applicant committed shop lifting ten or twelve years, he will probably be approved to get his SIDA ID, but the employer will not be informed about the prior conviction.
GAS may therefore request a check of an applicants' criminal record independently to confirm the applicant has no prior convictions for theft or other crimes. GAS therefore complies with Doty-Navarro & kleiner (2000) who advise to check an applicants' criminal background if the vacant position requires the access to sensitive data and assets.
Since all criminal convictions about persons with a permanent residency in Germany are collected and saved in a central database operated by the government, the employer asking for this kind of information, which the applicant has to provide, does reflect all former legal convictions associated with criminal acts and the probability of incomplete or false data is very unlikely. (Bundesamt fur Justiz)
As a result the criticism Odom (1995) addressed, that criminal record databases are not often incomplete can not be confirmed in this case.
Research objective 3
The last research objective is to reveal weather or not the "Zuverlassigkeitsuberprufung" has an influence on the selection of the recruitment channels?
According to Schreiber, there is a correlation between an existing Zuverlassigkeitsuberprufung and certain recruitment channels which are being used.
GAS appreciates if an applicant has a valid "Zuverlassigkeitsuberprufung" since these applicants have certain advantages. This kind of background check is customized for employees in the aviation industry and the likeliness that someone who passed this check in the past has also knowledge about the field of operations is high.
Another issue that needs to be considered is that if a company is needs to fill vacancies quickly, someone without a ZU will have to go through the process before he can even be trained. The process can take up to two month. During this time the employee can not receive any practical training since he is not authorized to access the SIDA. Therefore the company has to plan early in advance when they want to recruit personnel.
Schreiber stated:" If the applicant has worked at the Cologne/Bonn Airport or Dusseldorf Airport before, the Airport ID will often be issued only three days after the submission of the request".
If an applicant has a valid ZU the process of issuing a SIDA ID is much faster, usually it does not take more than a week to confirm the status and in some cases the ID is issued to the applicant after only three days, depending on if the ZU was previously done at an Airport under jurisdiction of the same office of the German Department of Aviation Security (LBA).
According to Schreiber candidates with a valid ZU usually contact the company through the two websites mentioned above. Applicants who are referred by existing staff also tend to have ZU and therefore the "word of mouth" channel is a preferred channel as well.
Swissport on the other hand sees not correlation between the ZU and selection of the recruitment channels.
Swissport regards the ZU only as an administrative circumstance which needs to be conducted which has no effect on the choice if an applicant will be more valuable or not.
The ZU does not tell anything about the quality or experience of an applicant, since the applicant might have worked in an airport shop or another unrelated business.
The experience and expertise of an applicant is the important factor.
The only advantage an applicant with a valid ZU has is that his SIDA badge is issued faster, but a connection between an existing ZU and job experience can not necessarily be observed.
Therefore Swissport does not consider certain channels of recruitment because applicants more like tend to have a valid ZU.