Motivation at Southwest Motivation Is Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Figure 1 below highlights briefly Hertzberg's two factor theory applications to the Southwest Airlines.

Figure 1: Hertzberg Two Factor Theory

To complete the analysis, the hygiene factors related to dissatisfaction should are considered to be:-

Working Conditions

Quality of Supervision




Interpersonal relations

These factors are necessary for the satisfaction of the employees, but will not lead to a motivated police force. Without these factors being present in an appropriate manner, these factors will lead to dissatisfaction, which may negate efforts to motivate the workforce.

The motivation factors include:


Responsibility for task

Interest in the job

Advancement to higher level tasks


Clearly, these factors are more connected with internal forces, and affect Southwest employees in a different way. These factors are the driving force behind motivation, and have been the mandate at Southwest Airlines, which explains the success of the company.

Another related motivational model that seems to be close fit to the operations at Southwest is the Existence Relatedness, Growth (ERG) model of human motivation, which identifies the existence needs, such as water air, shelter, and so on. Relatedness needs, where individuals need to be recognized as part of a group, family or culture. The growth needs are based on progress towards a greater ideal and are at the top of the motivational hierarchy. This model fits the model Southwest's organizational and leadership structure examined in the previous section of the papers, especially because of the relatedness need identified as a motivational factor. Employees at Southwest are connected as a family, and as such it is imperative that any motivational theory trying to understand the operations at the airline capture this ideal.

Southwest's Organizational Culture and Motivation

According to Nelson, organizational culture is usually considered the "combination of inherent values and learned mission," (Nelson, 2002, p 3). The importance of an organization's culture is due to the fact that it feeds operational excellence and ensures that strategic objectives are achieved. It is therefore imperative that the motivation be embedded in this critical process, why?

Organizations are living social organisms, and need a link between them to survive; the culture provides that link,

Organizational culture is the fundamental support of an institution and will fail without a strong one,

Organizational culture is critical business strategies, goals, missions, and outcomes, (Reed, 2007)

Motivational practices whether consciously or unconsciously helps to create, hone, and development an organizational culture from their own personal history, nature, socialization experiences, and perception of what it takes to succeed in the market place, (Reed, 2007). Table 2 below presents the four core cultures that an organization can adapt.

Table 2: The CEO and the Four Core Organizational Cultures

Type of Culture

Brief Description


The culture is all about certainty. The CEO exists to ensure predictability, safety, accuracy, and dependability. Motivation is centered on a culture that is centered on organizational goal achievement.


This culture is about synergy. Motivation has to ensure unity and a close connection with the customer and is centered on dedication with the customer.


This culture is about distinction. Motivational practices exist to ensure that the development and business strategies are unmatched.


This culture is about enrichment. Motivational practices exist to make sure the fundamental goals of the organization are embedded in the corporate structure and business strategy.

Motivational practices have to integrate the organizational structure so that incorporates the following strategies:-

Strategy #1: Identify environmental factors that will utilize the skills and talent of the employees -- this will motivate the workers. It is clear that a motivated employee wants to contribute to work areas outside of their specific jobs and to help enhance the work environment by embracing the organizational structure.

Strategy #2: Correct rewards have to be based on performance designed to boost employee morale -- the organizational structure has to support these programs thinking that paying the employee is enough is obviously an erroneous assumption. Research shows that workers are demoralized when they don't receive the recognition they want or feedback on how they are doing.

It is pointless to have a CEO who has the ability and aptitude to predict market trends and make sound business decisions, but not be able to communicate these changes to the corporation. The key to motivating employees towards a set of principles embraced by the organizational culture is via communicating the necessary information or changes to the corporation as needed. Herb Kelleher and the leadership at Southwest have continually practiced this type of interactive motivational strategy, (Ulrich, 1997).

As an essential strategist, the CEO sets the future direction of a company; the process for creating effective strategy inevitably involves a team-centered strategic planning approach. The success of this team depends solely on effective communication and motivation, (Govindarajan and Laing, 2002).

Studies show that CEOs who communicate with workers and get to know the work culture and integrate that process with the organizational culture have higher profit margins and smaller turnover ratios, because motivational strategies are more effective within this environment.

Reed (2007) argues that without a capable management team who is informed of the organizational processes as well as embracing the organizational culture, then the operational processes of a company will be stagnant (p 2). In essence it is impossible for a Kelleher to function or be successful without facilitating open communication channels and motivating the workforce, irrespective of the culture that is practices.

Adding value to an organization is embedded in linking strategy to the organizational structure. Schneider argues that it is communication that allows a CEO to impart vital information, so that employees can become a part of the system and thus understands the organizational culture and be motivated to help the Southwest achieve its corporate goals.


Understanding and integrating the organizational structure with the company objectives is the key to effective management and enhancing motivation; the role of the CEO and their duties is the best example of how pivotal this is. Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines provides a good study of how leadership, communication, and motivation are linked within an organization. The analysis presented above used Southwest Airlines to highlight how motivational theories are integrated within the operational model at the airlines and the effect it had on operations. This paper has tried to explore the idea behind effective communication, and how organizations can achieve it via a motivating modeling framework. The issues presented, highlight the fact CEO has the role of formally integrating within the strategic plans of the organization a culture and motivating strategies that embraces these plans and finding innovative ways of motivating and communicating objectives to employees, which will not negate the appropriate organizational structure, (Magretta, 2002).

CEOs are an important aspect of any organization, however, there ability to maintain, change, and develop the appropriate business strategies depend primarily on how they motivate and communicate to employees the appropriate trend and the necessary facets of the organizational structure -- Southwest is a very good example of how this is attained. Without understanding how important this element is, then an organizational will face serious communication problems and will not successfully achieve its business objectives.


Gordon, Platt, (2004). "United States: Splitting Roles of CEO and Chairman May Harm Business Performance." Find Articles Publications. Retrieved on March 20, 2010 from

Govindarajan, Vijay and Lang, Julie (2002). Southwest Airlines Corporation. Dartmount College: Center for Global Motivation.

Greenberg, J., (2010). Managing Behavior in Organizations, 5th Edition. New York: McGraw Hill Publishers.

Jaffe, Charles, (1991). Moving fast by standing still - Herbert D. Kelleher, Southwest Airlines, Nation's Business. Retrieved on March 21, 2010 from

Magretta, Joan, (2002). What Management Is: How it Works and Why it it's Everyone's. Chicago: Business the Free Press.

Nelson, Bob, (2002, August). Motivation Matters: Southwest Employees LUV Their Jobs. Corporate Meetings & Incentives. Retrieved on March 20, 2010 from

Reed, D, (2007, March 1). "Airline Industry Poised for Shake-up"? USA Today. Retrieved on March 20, 2010 from

Ulrich, David, (1997). Human Resource Champions. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.





Herb Kelleher's Strategic Roles…

Cite This Research Paper:

"Motivation At Southwest Motivation Is" (2010, March 21) Retrieved February 22, 2018, from

"Motivation At Southwest Motivation Is" 21 March 2010. Web.22 February. 2018. <>

"Motivation At Southwest Motivation Is", 21 March 2010, Accessed.22 February. 2018,