SOUTHWEST AIRLINES (B): USING HUMAN RESOURCES
FOR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Marielos Aldi, director of human resources for Motorola in Central America, was talking to her case study group about tomorrow's case, Southwest Airlines (AJ. "It simply isn't possible. The case can't be right. No company can be the way this case describes!" Bob Wells, another member of the group and the executive vice president in charge of human resources at Youna & Rubicam, the sixth largest advertising agency in the world, was also skeptical. He lived in Connecticut and worked in New York City and, like Marielos, had no personal experience with Southwest. However, as a longtime resident of the East Coast, he had his own views on the likelihood that any organization could deliver the kind of service described in the case. As someone long experienced in advertising, it sounded too good to be true. The third member of the study group was Kevin McNamara, director of worldwide training for Burger King. He too was suspicious of the picture described in the case. His job included responsibilities for training over 100,000 people and, with over 20 years in the fast-food business, he had seen too many organizations that just paid lip service to the importance of people and even joked that the phrase "people are the most important asset of our company" comes preprinted on the paper used to produce annual reports. He suspected the case writers had been taken in by Southwest. It was hard to see how management could develop the levels of cornmitment described in the case.
The final member ofthe group, Dan Cockroft, was head ofhuman resources for the Northrop B- 2 production and test facilities in southern California. He had flown on Southwest on several occasions and was less skeptical, although he had never looked carefully at the company. Even though the B-2 project was exploring cornmercial opportunities, he doubted whether there would be much demand for stealth cornmercial aircraft. He knew for...
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