Southwest Airlines’ Corporate Culture and Socialization
The organizational structure of Southwest Airlines is just like that of most airlines. This is due to the fact that planes must run safely and efficiently. The structure of our organization is “formal and centralized” (Buller and Schuler, 2006). However, the structure of our organization has a slight difference from that of other airlines in that it has a “loose tight design” (Robbins and Judge, 2007). Its operations are basically mechanical, meaning that the operations aim for consistency and efficiency. The organization gives its employees informal job descriptions as concerns customer service. Despite the fact that there is very high standardization as regards operations, it is low when it comes to customer service. The organization empowers its workers to do whatever necessary to please its clients. Therefore, the organization follows both the mechanistic and organic models. The mechanistic model is used on the upper management levels like the corporate office and the flight crew. On the other hand, the organic model is employed on the lower levels, where safety and time are of lower priority. This enables the employees to experiment with new approaches on customer satisfaction, while maintaining safety (Buller and Schuler, 2006).
There is a very positive and considerable role played by culture in Southwest Airlines. Our organizational culture is our most unique characteristic. The organization puts emphasis on the Value of People (Robbins and Judge, 2007). Its focus is on a team-based culture that is not abstracted by job rules and regulations that most of the competing organizations are obsessed with. Culture is the glue that joins the organization together. The culture of our organization includes beliefs, standards, expectations, communication procedures, customs, reward patterns and heroes (Buller and Schuler, 2006). Culture within Southwest Airlines is not magic or clandestine plans it is that which enables a unique love-based environment within the organization. The employees are friendly and one knows that there is always someone at the top who cares for his or her needs. The organization foregoes the functional structure of other similar organizations, adapting to a more constructive equalitarian culture that enables the creation of a constructive equality-based culture (Robbins and Judge, 2007).
Socialization, just like culture plays a major role in our organization. The organization is focused on keeping the employees happy so that they can in turn keep their clients happy. There is an atmosphere of cooperation within the organization that enables socialization. The organization puts a lot of emphasis on training and socialization. Every person within the organization has a role for self-improvement (Buller and Schuler, 2006). There are annual training programs that are aimed at reinforcing shared values, where every employee including the managers participates. The fun spirit emerges during graduations. There is not distinction between the top management and the other employees. They participate in similar activities and even stay in the same hotels. The friendly environment makes socialization easy, improving the team spirit and ultimately the ability to work together towards prosperity (Robbins and Judge, 2007).
Just like many other airline companies, Southwest Airlines has sophisticated use of computer-related technology. The technology offers support to all operations within the organization. From scheduling to reservations to general operations, the technology plays a very crucial role (Robbins and Judge, 2007). The network used by our organization is created on four super servers and a subsystem for reservations that links more than 5,000 personal computers and terminals across the country. The communication across the network is enabled by TCP/IP across Novell LANs. The network has enabled support of a reservation system that makes it possible for the company to be the pioneer carrier to provide ticketless flights. Robert W. Rapp, Vice President of Systems asserts that currently, the organization has an about 15,000 ticketless passengers traveling each day This service has enabled improved customer service through the elimination of lines to buy tickets. This system has also reduced costs. This is because it is estimated that production and processing of one paper ticket costs from $15 to $30 (Buller and Schuler, 2006). This system has enabled customers to buy seat by use of telephone or the internet. The client gets a confirmation code that is exchanged for a boarding pass during the travel. The technology has also enabled efficiency and effectiveness for the clients offering more customer satisfaction (Robbins and Judge, 2007).
Technology, tradition, the environment have enabled the success of Southwest Airlines, while some of its competitors have gone under. The success of the organization can be attributed to a large extent to the culture of the organization that has enabled a positive working environment. Technology, tradition, and the environment of the organization enable reliability in operations, customer satisfaction, profitability and productivity, employee satisfaction, and improvement and development of the employees, all which are recipe for success within an organization (Robbins and Judge, 2007).
Any change within the organization is likely to affect the employees as well as the management. A change in the organizational structure is likely to reveal the organizational weaknesses. This is because adapting to something that they are not used to will be hard for the employees. A change in the structure of the organization is likely to change its culture and the direction that the organization is taking. The management can also be affected by such a change, whose implementation in an organization that has enjoyed consistency is not easy (Buller and Schuler, 2006).
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Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management. Ohio: Thompson
Robbins, S. & Judge, T. (2007). Organizational Behavior. New Jersey: Pearson.