An identification of cultural differences is an absolute necessity for a successful business development nowadays. But also it is important for a company to be based on its own culture. A domestic Southwest Airlines is completely profitable in an industry where the giant corporations fail. Southwest Airlines, the largest company in the US (according to The World Air Transport Statistics), clearly shows us how to be ready for the cross-cultural issues within an international business. The company competently resolves the problems, which are based on a cultural ground.
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Southwest Airlines has been profitable every year since 1967. The company is also known as “Southwest Spirit” due to their unique organizational culture, which also helped Southwest Airlines to face the challenges. Having its own particular culture, Southwest Airlines accommodates to national, and today to an international, cultural ground. Southwest Airlines is the perfect example of a power of servant leadership principles. The leadership uses a culture as a possibility of fitting the new strategic demands. The company transformed itself from a regional carrier to a national carrier. The company’s success is based on a cultural flexibility, family-operation, fun, and, of course, LUV. Choosing LUV as main characteristic of the corporate image, Southwest Airlines assures that any company can give you ticket, but only Southwest Airlines gives you Love.
The use of a conflict in a way of building relationships is one of the main characteristics of Southwest Airlines. When the conflicts arise and they can’t be resolved by the parties, the process of a resolution looks like this: informational-gathering, or meetings, suggesting that conflicting parties were expected to bare their souls to achieve the reconciliation. Problem-solving communication carries about the relationships sharing goals, knowledge and mutual respect (Gittell, p. 187).
The obvious ways of the culture influences on the international business are the way of a company’s presentation, the way of an expression of the opinions, the way of making an assumption, based on the environment. Southwest Airlines feels an importance of a customer’s culture. The company works tirelessly to build strong, mutually beneficial, strategic relationships with different groups – national, regional, and local community. Southwest Airlines sees deep perspectives of cooperation with Asian community and the company has a long list of national partners. The company celebrates the Asian holidays during the whole year, including such events as Chinese New Year and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May.
In 2010 Southwest Airlines launched partnership with Mexican carrier Volaris (Maxon). Going to the business area, different than US, the Company developed a project, which included the national mentality: Mexicans are going to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid all unexpected results (Hofstede). The Company reduces all taxes looking for the increase of a passenger turnover. Thinking how to evade all possible cross-cultural problems, Southwest Airlines transmits information on Spanish and English. The company pays attention to the national Mexican holidays, but still spreads the unique “Southwest Spirit”.
It is obvious that an international company today must be based on the national culture of the country the company does business in. The influence of the national mentality can help into developing of a company. The position of Southwest Airlines allows providing a high-quality service under the influence of their own unique corporative culture in the collaboration with a national culture. The success of Southwest Airlines is a good example of such cooperation.
- Gittell J. H. (2003). The Southwest Airlines Way: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Perfomance. NY: McGraw-Hill
- Hofstede G. (2003). Cultural Dimensions.
- Maxon T. (2010 October 28). Southwest Airlines, Mexican carrier Volaris to launch partnership Dec. 1.The Dallas Morning News.
- The World Air Transport Statistics. (2011). Scheduled Passengers Carried.