Study Group Research Paper
Management and Organizational Behavior
School of Business and Mass Communication
Delta Air Lines: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
A company must have a clear vision for success in order to succeed: a realization of what has worked for the company in the past, an understanding of the standing of the company today, and a vision for where the company will be heading tomorrow. Delta Air Lines is the epitome of a company that realizes what it takes to succeed with a clearly defined pathway to operational successes. Delta’s road to operational success has been a journey for the company; ever-changing and consistently moving forward. Through trails and reevaluation, Delta Air Lines has grown into one of the most commonly recognized airlines in the world. Delta is a company that has branched off from the concept of ‘Southern Hospitality’ to an airline that is on the cutting edge of employee engagement, a game changer for employee standards, a facilitator of employee diversity, a company that is consistently adaptable to change, an industry leader that is willing to reevaluate plans in times of change, and a true leader in technology. Yesterday: Delta's Early Organizational Culture and Image
Delta Air Lines was founded as Delta Air Service in 1928 ("Delta," 2012). Ever since, this evolving company has been keenly aware of and utilizes cultural norms as a way to update business practices. The company's headquarters is located in Atlanta, Georgia, the heart of southern living and southern hospitality. According to one airline historian, "Delta... garnered the reputation of being a service-oriented Southern airline with all the graciousness the term 'southern hospitality’ implies” (Whitelegg, 2005, p. 8). The airline's company culture was founded on the "Delta Spirit" which was considered the company's image for integrating southern hospitality (Whitelegg, 2005). During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Delta's ability to create a family atmosphere, through the use of southern hospitality etiquettes, for both their customers and their employees safeguarded them from labor strikes and the insistence on labor unions because their employees were genuinely happy to work for Delta. Consequently, Delta is the only large US airline in operation today that does not have employee unionization. To solidify the southern hospitality image, Delta flight attendants or stewardesses had to be "knowledgeable about current affairs [and able to] carry on an intelligent conversation” (Whitelegg, 2005, p. 10). During the 1940s to the early 1970s, the flight attendants became charming southern bells who could entertain and carry on conversations with Delta's primarily male business clientele. Flight attendants went through an extensive selection process and training period before they were allowed to work for the company. According to words spoken by Mary Ruth Rouse, the chief stewardess trainer, "every girl who passes the rigorous acceptance standards to become a stewardess has the potential to be beautiful in her own right...I hope I have made clear how your looks are directly linked to your attitudes and your life style” (p.12). Delta Air Lines was being a rebel in her own right by going against the traditional family image of the time. They were teaching young southern women how to be confident and encouraged employment outside the home before and continuing through the civil rights movement. Consequently, Delta was helping to change the attitudes and behavior of young women who had been taught to be housewives and mothers. The pay and freedom that Delta offered gave these women a way to escape the confines of farm life and their traditional upbringing. Their attitudes were formed through a combination of direct experiences and social learning (Nelson & Quick, 2013). However, the flight attendants showed exemplary job satisfaction and work attitudes because...