Southwest Airlines Act II - An Airline in Trouble?

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : HROB061 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 2001 - 2004
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Southwest Airlines
Industry : Airlines
Countries : USA


The case discusses the changes that occurred in Southwest's culture in the early-2000s and to what extent these changes were related to leadership.

It also talks about the problems faced by Southwest, some of which were cultural and others external.

The case concludes with an analysis of the reasons for the changes that occurred at Southwest and whether the new CEO Gary Kelly would be able to change the culture for the better and replace Herb Kelleher at the airline.


The relationship between leadership and culture and how charismatic leaders can influence the elements of culture at organizations.

The impact of change in leadership over culture and morale

The reasons for problems at an organization that had an enviable record of profitability and a laudable culture.

The importance of succession planning in organizations and the issues involved in the same

The growing importance of low cost airlines and the future of the airline industry


  Page No.
CEO Resigns 1
Background 2
Southwest's Success Story 3
Trouble Brewing 3
Did Southwest Change? 6
Can Kelly Replace Kelleher at Southwest? 7
Exhibits 9

Key Words:

Case, Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly, James Parker, Herb Kelleher, Low-cost Airlines, Organizational Culture, Colleen Barrett, Customer Relations, JetBlue, Succession Planning, Cultural Transformation, Leadership, Change Management, AirTran, Southwest Culture

CEO Resigns - Next Page>>


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