It is known that the term organizational culture is widely used in the business world because organizational culture plays a significant role in successful development of any organization (McNamara, 2000, p.1). Organizational culture can be best understood by studying the employees’ behavior and attitudes, the belief system and values. It not only characterizes the employees’ perception of the nature of business, but also it helps to improve the employees’ motivation and performance. Today many business organizations lay emphasis on organizational culture because their growth and success depends on the type of culture specific to the company. The organizational culture of Southwest Airlines attracts attention of many experts as it has its unique features which help the company to hold the leading position in the competitive market of airline services. Herb Kelleher, the legendary charismatic founder and former CEO, and now Chairman of the Board, is well known for the customer service culture he created. Gary Keller has continued to nourish the same culture. The employees who work for Southwest airlines are well motivated. They are ready to perform their duties in a proper way. The major goal of this paper is to discuss the legendary organizational culture of Southwest Airlines, paying special attention to the major dimensions of the Southwest Airlines organizational culture and the way the culture is maintained and fostered at the company. It is also necessary to discuss a strong relationship between Southwestern Airlines success and its culture.
THE MAJOR DIMENSIONS OF THE SOUTHWEST AIRLINES ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE BASING ON THE ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE PROFILE
In order to discuss the major dimensions of the Southwest Airlines organizational culture, it is very important to refer to the key characteristics of the company’s culture. It is known that Southwest Airlines is the fourth largest airline in the USA in terms of domestic passenger miles flown. Gene Smith analyzes Southwest’s culture in his article Culture is the Key at Southwest Airlines. He states that the company has a unique culture called goofiness’, as it keeps the employees’ morale high (Smith, 2010, p.1). In addition, the company tries to keep its costs down and focuses the industry in on-time performance. What is more important is that the employees of Southwest Airlines have never gone out on strike (Smith, 2010, p.1).
One of the major dimensions is consideration, warmth and support provided to the employees. This dimension is focused on the extent of stimulation and support received by the employees from other members. It means that there is a sense of team spirit among all members of the company (Bailey, 2008, p.2).
The other important dimension is progressiveness and development. This dimension refers to the degree to which the conditions of the company foster the development of the employees, allowing the scope for personal growth and implementation of new ideas and methods (Organizational Culture, 2011, para.6).
The employees of Southwest Airlines deliver the friendly and high quality customer service, for which they created Southwest Airlines unique culture and storied 40-year history (Annual Report: Southwest Airline Inc., 2010).
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING THE SOUTHWESTERN AIRLINES ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE?
It is not a secret that organizational culture is created not only by the leaders of the company, but also by the employees. Gary Kelly, the Chairman, President and CEO of Southwest Airlines is responsible for creating the culture of the company. In the report, he says: The 35,000+ Employees of Southwest Airlines are the heart and soul of our company (Southwest Cares: Doing the Right Think, 2008, p.5). The company provides a stable work environment for all employees who are given equal opportunities for their personal development, learning, and growth. The company has developed a special program Manager In Training which helps the employees in their growth and the University for People which provides learning opportunities for all employees. Gary Kelly says: We are committed to diversity and equal opportunity and our people are our greatest strength (Southwest Cares: Doing the Right Think, 2008, p.5). It means that the employees are also responsible for creating the Southwest Airlines organizational culture.