Abby S. Boeltram
Organizational culture is the collective behavior of people, who comprise an organization, and this behavior affects the way people and groups within the organization interact with others, internally and externally. Founder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher is credited with creating an organizational culture that unique in America today and which has propelled Southwest to the number one spot in the airline industry. Kelleher’s own values and beliefs of humor, altruism, concern for others and honesty is clearly defined within the people-oriented culture of this airline as is often displayed within its working environment. In “A Conversation with Herb Kelleher” (Organizational Dynamics, 1994, pg. 64-74) Kelleher states that “alot can be said for the importance of communication, but it cannot be rigid or formal.” Internal communication at Southwest consists of the corporate newsletter “Luv Lines”, which has several sections. The “Learning Edge”, which features learning through stories and metaphors; “How Do We Rate“, which reports statistics important to the success of an airline; “Industry News” keeps employees up-to-date on how other airlines are doing and “Milestones” reports employee accomplishments. The airline also has a quarterly video entitled “As the Plane Turns.” Employees are also encouraged to talk to each other rather than e-mail because it is the airline’s belief that decisions can be made faster this way. True to Kelleher’s belief that communication should be simple, Southwest Airlines keeps internal miscommunication minimal by keeping the number of management layers to a minimum, thus keeping communication channels free from congestion. Southwest’s fun-loving company spirit is exhibited in such external communication as its blog “Nuts About Southwest” featuring the latest happenings at Southwest, podcasts, videos, and cool contests. If one...
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Quick, J. (1992), Crafting an Organizational Culture: Herb’s Hand at Southwest Airlines, Organizational Dynamics, 21(2), 45-56.
Schein, E. (1983), The Role of the Founder in Creating Organizational Culture, Organizational Dynamics
Smith, K.G. (2004). The Southwest Airlines Way: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 49(1), 160-162
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