A Tale of Two Cultures Case Analysis

A Tale of Two Cultures

In an attempt to give Southwest Airlines a competitive advantage based on low-cost, high-quality service, CEO Herb Kelleher developed terminal and instrumental values that made Southwests culture the envy of its competitors. Southwest managers and employees alike are committed to the success of the organization and do all they can to help one another and to provide customers with excellent service (a terminal value). Four times a year, Southwest managers work as baggage handlers, ticket agents, and flight attendants so they get a feel for the problems facing other employees. An informal norm

makes it possible for employees to gather with Kelleher every Friday at noon in the companys Dallas parking lot for a company cookout. Southwest keeps the organization as flat and informal as possible, and managers encourage employees to be creative and to develop rules and norms to solve their own problems. To please customers, for example, employees dress up on special days like Halloween and Valentines Day and wear fun uniformsevery Friday.In addition,they try to develop innovative ways to improve customer service and satisfac- tion.All employees participate in a bonus system that bases

rewards on company performance, and employees own over 22% of the airlines stock. The entrance hall at company headquarters at Love Field in Dallas is full of plaques earned by employees for their outstanding performance. Everybody in the organization cooperates to achieve Southwests goal of providing low-cost, high-quality service. The culture of excellence that Southwest has created seems

to be working to its advantage. Southwest increased its op- erating routes and profits every year and is the most prof-itable airline flying today. Contrast Southwests CEO and culture with that of Value

Line, Inc. Jean Buttner, publisher of the Value Line Investment Survey, fashioned a culture that the companys employees apparently hated. In her attempt to reduce costs and improve efficiency, she created instrumental values of frugality and economy that poisoned employees attitudes

toward the organization.Employees were told to sign in by 9 A.M. every day and sign out when leaving. If they faked their arrival or departure time, they could be terminated. Because at Value Line messy desks were regarded as signs of laziness or unproductivity, Buttner required department managers

to file a clean surfaces reportevery day,certifying that em- ployees did tidy up their desks.51 Salary increases were also kept as small as possible and the companys bonus and health plans were under tight rein. How have these values paid off? Many highly trained professional workers left Value Line because of the hostile atmosphere produced by these economical values and by

work rules that devalued employees.Also,this among the companys customers, who be-gan to complain.So bad did feelings between employees and Buttner become that employees reportedly put up a notice on their bulletin board that criticized Buttners management

style and suggested that the company could use some new leadership.Buttners response to this message from a signifi-cant stakeholder group was to remove the bulletin board. Clearly, at Value Line no culture of cooperation between managers and employees exists. Discussion Questions


1. List the reasons why Southwests and Value Lines cultures differ so sharply.

2. Could Value Lines next CEO copy Southwests culture?

NB(mention and cite within the content and list the reference(s) at the end) at least one other research source than the text to help you answer each question. Minimum of 3 paragraphs per answer. APA format double space.

Need Question then answer.

Hint to Question one( you can expand on this answer if you like but dont use word for word remember 3 paragraph per question. APA format double space.)

Southwests culture is marked by good customer service and management cooperation with employees. A flat, informal structure encourages innovation, and the stock ownership system rewards employees for company performance. Value Lines culture, on the other hand, fosters employee turnover and customer dissatisfaction. The management does not cooperate with employees; CEO Jean Buttner values frugality so much that employees sign in every day, raises are limited, and managers file daily reports on the neatness of employees desks.

Hint to Question Two( you can expand on this answer if you like but dont use word for word remember 3 paragraph per question. APA format double space.)

Although Value Line could certainly benefit from copying Southwests culture, it is not as simple as changing CEOs. Culture becomes entrenched and is very difficult to change, so a new CEO would have to be patient and accept that change would come over a long period of time.

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