To read this content please select one of the options below:

An evaluation of the corporate culture of Southwest Airlines

Gene Smith (Gene Smith is an accounting instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He has over 30 years’ experience in public accounting and private industry. His current research includes corporate governance, quality management and effectiveness of undergraduate accounting curricula.)

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



The attached paper describes the keys to success for Southwest Airlines, including its approach to quality management. Southwest did not implement a formalized “quality management program.” Numerous companies in the USA have implemented formalized “quality management programs” and they failed because they were “programs of the month.” Implementing “quality” throughout a company is not the result of a formalized program but requires a cultural change in the way daily activities are conducted. The requirement of “doing it right the first time” must be integrated into the daily activities or culture of the company. The chairman of the board and president of a company must establish the tone for quality in not only what they communicate but also in their daily actions. Quality must be ingrained in the overall business model and strategies of a company. Southwest is very effective in integrating the importance of quality in its overall business model, strategic plan and its daily operational activities. Southwest did not engage outside consultants to develop a “quality program” but its style, culture and emphasis on quality were implemented in Southwest’s daily activities by Herb Kelleher, Chairman of the Board, and his management team.



Smith, G. (2004), "An evaluation of the corporate culture of Southwest Airlines", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 26-33.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles