Mid-Term Case Study Exam HRM 300 - Southwest Airlines

Essay by snstollUniversity, Master's October 2004

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1.How does SWA use organizational culture and focus on people as its strategic competitive advantage?

SWA puts employees first and customers second, a policy that seems to go against the way most companies operate. The source of this policy came from the outgoing CEO Herb Kelleher and can be seen every day in the motivation of Southwest's employees. Herb believed that a happy, motivated employee communicates the same attitude toward customers.

At SWA they use the golden rule as a basis for the way they treat each other and customers as well that has resulted in more than 97 consecutive quarters of positive quarterly dividends based on sales reflecting a strong strategic advantage. All airlines own airplanes, sell tickets, handle baggage and provide customer service but the one consistent difference that seems to stand out at SWA when compared to the competition is employee attitude and motivation, reflected in the bottom line and providing a competitive advantage.

Employees are encouraged to show initiative and even make mistakes, learning in the process and sharing both success and failure with others as a means to reinforce the "family" atmosphere and genuine concern employees have for one another. This concept provides the environment for employees to try new ideas and have fun in the process. The story is told of an employee who went the "extra mile" as he drove a customer over 150 miles from the airport in his own car after a flight landed and there was no local transportation available. Another ticket agent made the decision to rent a private jet to transport a customer who was traveling to Huston, Texas to receive an organ transplant and there were no other flights available until the next day. At most airlines, the agent would either be fired or the customer...