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Case Title:

Southwest Airlines: Generating Competitive Advantage through Human Resources Management

Publication Year : 2004

Authors: Saxena G, Ganesan S

Industry: Transportation

Region:USA

Case Code: HRM0001

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Available

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Abstract:
Texas-based Southwest Airlines was considered the most successful airline company in the US. While the entire US airline industry was reeling under heavy losses following the September 2001 terrorist attacks, Southwest was successful in posting modest profits. Moreover, when the major carriers started laying off thousands of employees, Southwest kept recruiting. Many credited this competitive edge of the company to its founder Herb Kelleher, who had instilled a unique culture of 'fun at workplace'. He strongly believed that a happy workforce was a productive workforce and hence put his employees ahead of even the customers.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To discuss the following issues
  • Southwest's faith in human resources (HR) as a means for competitive advantage
  • The concept of HR branding for one to be an employer of choice
  • The importance of organisational culture in shaping HR practices
  • Southwest's empowerment and individuality processes
  • If having fun at work was a great motivator, why is that we have not heard many such success stories at higher levels
  • Compare and contrast Southwest's management style with that of other companies such as SAS Airlines, Semco, People Express, etc.

Keywords : Southwest Airlines, People management, Herb Kelleher, Corporate culture, Southwest spirit, HRM Case Study, Competitive advantage through people, Southwest's recruitment policy, Training, Graveyard video, Spirit weaver

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Background note
  • The southwest spirit
  • Competitive advantage through people
  • Recruitment
  • The positive effect

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