Southwest Airlines

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Assessing Corporate Culture: Southwest Airlines

Q Organizational Philosophy, Mission, Vision, Values
Southwest Airlines clearly outlines their values in their corporate mission statement: The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit ( This mission both describes the company's approach to its workforce, and the customer at large. Rather than focusing on the financial side of the business, Southwest has been successful in creating an organization centered in fostering positive relationships with its employees and customers. The airline is also known for its ‘zany corporate culture', and has maintained the buy in of its employees through emphasizing a fun atmosphere (Plunkett, 2004-2005, p.509). Company founder, Herb Kelleher once said, "If work was more fun, it would feel less like work (". Through creating a fun working environment, Southwest has also created a fun traveling option, which entices their customers as well.

QWork Environment
Southwest's dress code is casual and reflects management's philosophy of placing little value on its formal organizational structure. Southwest is also known for its collaborative labor/management interactions, which have promoted a work environment free of rigid rules and not elaborate guidelines (Southwest Airlines charts, 1995). Teamwork is very important at Southwest and employees are cross-trained. Employees are encouraged to be responsive to fellow employee needs first and then to customer needs. Flight attendants prepare cabins for passengers, and ramp agents help by cleaning toilets, unloading baggage, and stocking planes (Czaplewski, Ferguson, Milliman, 2001). Pilots, managers, and the CEO are expected to help other employees when needed. All of these practices help employees support each other while providing high quality service.

QSlogans, Language, or Sayings
Certain slogans or sayings are prevalent in the company of Southwest Airlines. When you look at the Southwest web page, the current slogan is, "Steel in Luv with you!" (Southwest website) This slogan informs people that southwest is in fact in love with its people, both the customers, and its employees. The slogan, "Ding- You are now free to move about the country" (Nationmaster) informs people of the core southwest value of humor. And the slogan, "Wanna get away?" (Nationmaster) informs people of their commitment of providing opportunity through customer service and low airfares.

QDeliberate Role Modeling, Training, Teachings
Southwest Airlines' mission statement has always governed the way they conduct their business. It highlights their desire to serve the customers and gives direction when making service-related decisions; it is their way of saying they "always strive to do the right thing" (Southwest website). In addition to putting high emphasis on customer satisfaction, Southwest has a highly spiritual values-based model throughout the organization. Teamwork, serving others, and acting in the best interests of the company are central aspects of the community value at Southwest, the employees feel as if they are part of a family and a part of a cause and they take care of each other; although Southwest believes in taking care of their customers, the employees always come first (Milliman, Ferguson, Trickett, Condemi, 1999). Realizing that many of its managers lacked formal business education, Southwest's University for People chose to implement Paradigm Learning's financial literacy game, Zodiak: The Game of Business Finance and Strategy (Rezak, 2004). Using a wide variety of discovery learning techniques, the exercises focus on key strategic and financial techniques and how the employees' day to day business decisions and activities affect the organization as a whole in matters of profitability, customer...
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