Southwest Airlines Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Southwest Airlines Case Study Solution

HR’s role in Strategic Management

The maintenance of organizational culture through a number of practices such as fund raising for rewarding teams of employees for their hard work or for their encouragement. A program was also developed which was named as Heroes of the Heart Program to honor employees. On the other hand, a sub-group in the organization is selected on the basis of their outstanding performance and are honored with a party.

Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility

In order to improve the environment and make the company greener, Southwest Airlines has significantly undertaken a number of initiatives. Unveiling of Green plane assessing latest cabin materials if they are environmental friendly. One of the organizational green initiative include the launch of a stronger program for on board recycling. For this reason, the organization purchased green power in the wind energy form as has been performing as a leader in efforts of fuel conservation. This resulted in conservation of 8 million gallons a year.In different locations, there are approximately 130 employees’ of Southwest involved in green activities co-ordination.

  • Recycling the waste of about 3348 tons.
  • Recycling of hazardous waste i.e. more than 2/3rd and
  • Improvement in the efficiency of jet fuel by not less than 30 percent since 2008.

Analyzing the external and the internal environment

In context to the internal environment of the organization, Southwest is a centralized and formal organization that is significantly structured with respect to its functions. The operations processed are of mechanical type,naturally aiming for consistency and efficiency of the customer services. The characterization of the organization is on the basis of high degree of standardization and formalization. Similarly, the satisfaction of employees is carried out by a number of mechanisms. However, the organization maintains relatively description of formal job and decision making decentralization in regard to the service of customer.

On the other hand, the external or competitive environment of Southwest Airlines is divided into a number of segments including service of passengers, group of competitors, and customers. There are two types of passengers i.e. leisure travelers and business travelers. The major competitor groups of the United States Airlines are divided into three groups such as national airlines increasing the industry competition, regionals, and feeder carriers or commuters as a major carrier extension. The high levels of debt and low profit margin have made airlines to lease their planes instead of purchasing.

Stakeholder analysis

The stakeholders in the airlines industry of Southwest Airlines consists of stakeholders like government – regulation in fares cost, HR management – hiring of employees and maintenance of organizational culture, Customers, Energy planning Department – role in greener technology.

Analyzing and developing resources and capabilities

The organizational operation processes are based on the use of computer based technology which supports scheduling and reservation eliminating the cost of ticket printing which requires an amount of $15 to $30 for a single ticket. It uses wind energy resource for the conservation of fuel and has been successful in it. Recycling of waste to protect environment from damaging. Creative and innovative approach in process of hiring employees at work to prevent the organization on their compromise on the service safety and quality.

Competitive Advantage

Since the establishment of organization, instead of offering low cost but efficient and safe services to its customers; the competitive advantage that the organization holds for past 45 years is its organizational culture. The culture of Southwest Airline serves as a sustainable competitive advantage in the airline industry. Southwest Airline Cultural attributes are focused by competitors while describing the organization.

Role of HR in achieving competitive advantage

The management of organization considered their culture maintenance and its development as their primary duty. For this purpose, the organizational HR management developed an organizational cultural committee containing people from all areas of geography and organizational levels.

Making and implementing strategic HRM decisions

The making and implementation of HRM decisions in hiring of candidates involved the selection of right people who match the criteria of organization. Therefore, for this purpose, the management involved a series of hiring process using different selection techniques which involved personality traits, interview and some other techniques. Such as jot down of memorable conservation with the candidate whether good or bad. During interview, such interviewee is given with special ticket as an indication of their recruitment.

While, the process of interview involves a series of questions based on the past behavior of candidate in different critical situations. The personality technique is an evaluation through a scale of one to five based on seven different traits. Less than three traits are clear indications of rejection.


Exhibit – Stakeholders

Exhibit – Levels of Strategy

Exhibit – CSR


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