American and Northwest Airlines

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  • Topic: Northwest Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines
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  • Published : April 13, 2005
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Northwest Airlines and American Airlines will be compared thoroughly in many aspects. Globalization, diversity, ethics and technology will be addressed in various ways. All four themes will be addressed through the strength, fit and adaptive ness of both company's cultures. The overall organizational culture of both Northwest Airlines and American Airlines will be clear.


Globalization can be defined as "making worldwide in scope or application"(1). In this comparison of the global corporate culture of Northwest Airlines and American Airlines several areas will be addressed. The strength of the global culture with-in the companies. The fit of the company to the global marketplace, and the adaptive ness or the empowerment of the employees will be examined and compared. Perhaps more important, than whether they currently have a global atmosphere, is whether they can improve or create this atmosphere. A comparison between the two airlines will be made on their mission statements, information dissemination, global-mindedness, career paths, and the use of cultural differences as an asset and if a worldwide training system is in place. A conclusion will then be made as to which corporation has the best organizational composition to compete in the global market.

The strength of Northwest and Americans' global culture can be compared by evaluating how well they "facilitate performance"(2,546). Both of the corporation's employees, it may be argued, have the common goal of wanting their company to expand and continue to grow in the global market. It could also be argued that the companies differ, in significant ways, when it comes to the motivating effect this common goal has. Northwest seems to be better motivated in obtaining this goal. Examples of this motivated corporate culture are illustrated by the fact that they were "pioneers in global alliances"(3) and in the fact that they have committed major investments, in the form of hub cities, in both Tokyo and Amsterdam. American, on the other hand, does not seem to be as motivated by the goal of expansion in the global market. Although they have alliances with several international carriers, the number of alliances is not as large as Northwest's. The recent acquisition of TWA, by American (4), may help to expand their global culture, due to the greater foothold this acquired asset has in the global market. In addition the financial investment that Northwest has shown in the global market is lacking in American. The only hub, questionably, outside of the U.S. is in San Juan, Puerto Rico (4). American seems to concentrate its strength inside the U.S., which may have a stifling effect on globalization efforts in the future. Northwest, although somewhat slowed by the economic downturn, especially in Asia, has shown consistent economic performance, possibly contributable to past globalization efforts.

Globalization in the airline industry may seem to be a natural flow of the business model. However, some companies have a better fit, or culture that lends itself to a smooth and prosperous integration into the global market. In comparing this integration into the global market one might take a historical look at American and Northwest. Both carriers were formed just after World War I, as mail carriers (3,4). Eventually both evolved into passenger carriers. Americans roots are traced to Charles Lindberg and the cities of Chicago and St Louis (4). Northwest also has its roots in Chicago, but their first routes went north to Minneapolis / St Paul (3). Northwest eventually evolved into Northwest-Orient Airlines and expanded its routes into Japan, being the first airline to make a profit in the Asian market without subsides (3). Northwest continued to globalize with their alliance with KLM Airlines and eventual expansion into the Netherlands (3). American, on the other hand, concentrated their growth in the Americas. With an...
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