Essay on Southwest Airline Analysis

Words: 3114
Pages: 13

Southwest Airline Analysis

The goal of this paper is to explain the prominent success of Southwest Airline in the United States through a single case study analysis making use of the McKinsey’s 7-S framework. Developed in the early 1980s at the McKinsey & Company consulting firm by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, this framework looks at 7 internal factors (Structure, Strategy, Systems, Style, Staff, Skills, Super-ordinate goals) which, according to its authors, need to be aligned for an organization to be successful. In this paper, we will analyse each of its internal elements through the case study “Southwest Airlines in 2008, Culture, Values, and Operating Practices”.


The organizational structure of Southwest
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Indeed, in the early seventies, when Braniff International, one of Southwest’s major competitor, copied the $13 fares of Southwest for San Antonio Dallas flights, the company stroke back with a two-page ad in the Dallas newspapers, headlined “Nobody Is Going to Shoot Southwest Airlines Out of the sky for a Lousy $13”. Contradictorily, all the legal, regulatory and competitive hurdles that stood up on Southwest’s path turned out to make the company even stronger by building a warrior mentality. This warrior mentality coupled with the strong “esprit de corps” among Southwest personnel has, along the years, gradually given birth to a combative, can-do spirit embodied by Herb Kelleher, former C.E.O of Southwest:

“They would have put twelve to fifteen lawyers on a case and on our side there was Herb. They almost wore him to the ground. But the more arrogant they were, the more determined Herb got that this airline was going to go into the air-and stay there. The warrior mentality, the very fight to survive is truly what created our culture”.

This warrior mentality “knocked down” more than one competitor. For instance, below is a billboard advertising campaign after which Northwest Airlines stopped claiming its supposed superior customer service…

After lengthy deliberation at the highest executive levels, and extensive consultation with our legal department, we have arrived at an official corporate response to Northwest Airlines claim to be