Southwest Airlines Case Study

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ENT 5193 Strategy in Entrepreneurial Organization
Class Date: February 25, 2011
Chapter: 4
Case: 27-Southwest Airlines: Does “LUV” Last?

Does “LUV” really last? Many relationship experts have stated that “LUV” is eternal and that it is like a muscle that must always be worked out to keep it in shape, in order for it to last forever. While some may disagree that “LUV” can’t last forever, when it comes to relationships, the “LUV” that is in question is Southwest Airlines. What once was a small commuter air service, has now grown to be one of the largest and most successful major airline companies in the United States. So how did Southwest Airlines become so successful? It all began with the founders Rollin King, an entrepreneur, and Herb Kelleher, an attorney, who demonstrated strategic leadership from the beginning. The strategic leadership began when the these two gentlemen saw an opportunity that would be beneficial due to the inconvenience and expense of ground travel by either bus, train, or automobile between three major cities, which were Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. Due to this, the establishment of Southwest Airlines came into existence by providing point-to-point short haul flights to less popular and less congested airports. Shortly after its establishment, like any other new businesses, Southwest faced many barriers in the beginning phases, which pertained to safety issues, inspections, and flight operations, which Southwest was able to overcome due to Herb Kelleher’s legal experience.

After overcoming the barriers, the strategic leadership continued with the incessant building of the organization. Southwest Airlines’ organization is like an upside-down pyramid where upper management is on the bottom and the employees, who are the experts, are at the top. This was the leadership style of Herb Kelleher, who always believed that regardless of your title, the people who kept the business afloat were the employees of the company...
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