This qualitative case study explored union-management work-life practices and how those practices were perceived to impact sustainability at Southwest Airlines—an airline company that has produced 42 consecutive years of profitability in a business sector in which profits can be excruciatingly tough to come by. This study specifically examined the sustained success of Southwest Airlines through individual perspectives to shed light on how work-life cooperation (WLC) practices influence organizational outcomes. This study also delineated how employees of Southwest Airlines perceived their individual role in developing and perpetuating a WLC culture.
While work-life culture theories have abounded for decades, research focusing on unionized settings has received nominal attention. This study helps to address these empirical limitations by examining how the WLC concept—a multidimensional construct where the collective bargaining agreement is central to the reciprocating process—has been an effective mechanism for developing the types of actions and practices that respond to the needs of workers. Additionally, this study reinforces the premise that a work-life culture aligned with the belief that “people” are the company’s single greatest strength and long-term competitive advantage is the best approach for achieving sustainable outcomes.
The research results were derived largely from the perceptions and insights of Southwest employees who interfaced daily with customers, as well as observations and in-depth document review. The data were collected over a period of more than 4 years, with semistructured interviews occurring over a 14-week period. The study was guided by a conceptual framework comprising two key constructs: WLC and organizational sustainability. This exploratory study yielded five conclusions. (1) A dynamic reciprocating process is a key determinant for building a WLC culture that yields success and sustainability. (2) A leadership-driven “people-first” cooperative work-life culture is the key to the success of SWA. (3) Current leadership’s “business-first” approach is capable of achieving immense growth and sustainability. (4) The union is in a position to provide greater influence in facilitating the quality of daily work-life toward future growth. (5) A nexus between the people-first and business-first management approach finds new ground that effectively addresses emerging challenges and needs.
|Commitee:||Leslie, James D., Marquardt, Michael J.|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Education and Human Development|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational sociology, Educational leadership, Organizational behavior|
|Keywords:||Collective bargaining, Organizational sustaniability, Social dimension, Triple bottom line, Union-management relations, Work-life cooperation|
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