Southwest Airlines business model Case Study
Business students spend countless hours of their education pouring through case studies and analyzing how organizations might react to challenges. We study value chains, business models, organizational cultures, mergers and acquisitions, and so much more. The case studies that we read generally cover traditional businesses like Southwest Airlines, General Electric, and Netflix.
As a sports fan, though, it would be interesting for schools to branch out and apply business curriculum to the sports world.
Calling for case studies on sports might sound like an attempt to talk about my hobby in class instead of studying professional cases, but teams and leagues would be excellent subjects of case studies. They add complexity to the traditional business model while being particularly relatable to many students.
For example, I recently spent a weekend in Phoenix for a case competition about a baseball contract analysis. While many folks may think that my week was all fun and games, I’m positive that I’ve never applied such a wide breadth of business curriculum to a single project.
General managers of professional teams are constantly forced to make difficult decisions that balance two goals that aren’t necessarily correlated: profitability and winning.
These differing goals already make sports business quite complicated but the fact that the teams invest in human assets that aren’t nearly as predictable as traditional fixed assets further complicates a GM’s job. Traditional business managers have significant control over their primary assets but sports teams can’t necessarily control what their players do in their private life, much of which can emotionally carry over into games.
Specifically, the 2012 Boston Red Sox and 2013 Los Angeles Lakers would make fantastic organizational behavior case studies. In both cases, the teams had spent much of the past decade winning championships and certainly always being in the playoff picture. But then their longtime coaches left and high-dollar free agents were added to the team.
On paper, both teams should have dominated their respective sports, but both had miserable seasons.
The Red Sox clubhouse completely blew up. Players essentially mutinied against their manager, and management ultimately traded away much of its high-end talent.
The Lakers looked like they should roll into the NBA Finals with a phenomenal starting five, but the all-stars spent months simply trying to gel into one cohesive unit.