Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart in Arkansas in 1962. At the time no one could have forecasted the great success that would ultimately be achieved and how a single retail store would blossom into the world’s largest retailer to open stores in China, Korea, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Canada and Mexico (Thau, 2001) Wal-Mart’s success is due not only to the firm strategic decisions made by its management, but also due to its ability to innovatively put into practice those decisions. Wal-Mart’s success was also due to Walton’s reputation as a caring person, both to his clients and his employees.
He had three guiding principles: to offer customer service and value, partner with associated, and remain involved with the community (The Story of Wal-Mart, 1995). Unfortunately, as Wal-Mart grew into a “corporate gorilla” (Head, 2004), the company grew more and more victim to the pressures and vices of a large organization, even brawling with the United Food and Commercial Workers (Bernstein, 2000). Wal-Mart has “[… ] been accused of creating a permanent underclass by paying rock-bottom wages and being stingy on benefits […
]criticized for doing environmental damage and creating congestion and sprawl” (Scott, 2005). Responding to such accusations, Wal-Mart is attempting to go back to it’s the values set by Sam Walton. Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, introduced the Sustainability 360 initiative. As part of this strategy, Wal-Mart plans to “reduce the impact of suppliers; establish environmental sustainability in the communities it operates; make green products affordable for customers; limit the environmental impact of employees; and develop new markets for green products” (Murray, 2007).
Through this strategy, Wal-Mart hopes to go back to basics, providing sustainable value to its customers, a good and green working environment to its employees and to develop a business advantage in the process.
1. Bernstein, A. (2000). Labor Finally Puts A Target on Wal-Mart. Business Week, Dec. 6, 2000. 2. Head, S. (2004). Inside the Leviathan. The New York Review of Books, Volume 51, Number 20 3. Murray, J. (2007). Wal-Mart unveils sustainability strategy. Retrieved on January 20, 2008 from: http://www. computing. co. uk/business-green/news/2199636/wal-mart-unveils-sustainability