Southwest Airlines Case

2196 Words9 Pages
Southwest Airlines 2002:
An Industry Under Siege

Case Study
“Discussion Format”

MGMT 5113

Team 7

Dag Yemenu
Sachin Gupta
Michelle May
Shaun Evans

November 22nd 2003

Problem Overview
Southwest Airlines has employed unique operational strategies, incorporating industry revolutionizing methodologies, while developing and sustaining a strong corporate culture that has allowed Southwest Airlines to be profitable for a phenomenal 30 straight years and capture the Airline Industry Service Triple Crown five years in a row from 1992 to 1996. Southwest Airlines own success threatens whether it can maintain the strong corporate culture responsible for its prosperity while growing and adding additional routes. More pressing
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The top management members spend a great deal of time together and serve as a cross-functional team making decisions as one. Within Southwest there is minimal hierarchy of authority although the locus of power is centralized within this team. In contrast to highly vertical organizations, the team has a wide span of control since Southwest is more heavily staffed with mangers responsible for coordinating functions at the front-line operating level.
Although the organizational structure and design of Southwest Airlines are key factors to Southwest’s success and longevity, probably the most important factor is the culture that has been nurtured and firmly established by its charismatic founder Herb Kelleher that gives Southwest Airlines its sense of identity. Throughout the organization stress has been placed on the value of “family” and affects everything from the way new recruits are hired to the way union contracts are negotiated.
Southwest Airlines has a very strong “Club” Organizational Culture that incorporates at least six of the seven elements of culture: innovation (first frequent flier program, ticketless flight, first Internet home page), orientation toward people (partnering with unions, acknowledgement of exceptional employees by the

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