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Wal-Mart ( 2007 )

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Wal-Mart in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  3. The connections between corporate values and control mechanisms.
  4. The logistics system known as 'cross-docking'.
  5. The various control mechanisms working for Wal-Mart.
    1. Learning and Growth.
    2. The business processes perspective.
    3. The customer perspective.
    4. The financial perspective.

Wal-Mart, one of the largest retailers and employers in the world, has surged to the top of the business world through its various control mechanisms. Its market power, 2nd mechanism, third mechanism, and fourth mechanism, are essential to its success, but there are also some negatives to deal with. The very things that have made Wal-Mart successful have also made the store a target of immense criticism and attacks from activists and even politicians. Wal-Mart may be as hated by others as it is loved by its customers, but nobody can deny its success. That success, however, is dependent on the goodwill of consumers, so Wal-Mart has begun to make some moves to shore up its public image. Despite these efforts, many of which smack of PR initiatives rather than pro-social change, Wal-Mart continues to be harshly criticized. As far as the development of a "balanced scorecard", (see Kaplan and Norton, 1992) Wal-Mart has a long way to go.

[...] Wal-Mart is well-known for entering towns and them dominating their retail economies, as superior pricing and product mixes (the most popular of everything from CDs to groceries to furniture and clothing) allows them to outcompete the local stores. However, Wal-Mart makes sure that it maximizes its gains by carefully selecting and re-selecting locations for its stores. Biasiotto and Hernandez (2001) note: For example, in 2000, Wal-Mart opened 77, refurbished 140 and extended/relocated 115 stores; over two-thirds of their location decisions involved existing stores. [...]

[...] 42) Vlasic "begged" Wal-Mart to raise its price, and eventually Wal-Mart did. Now Vlasic, though bankrupt (not due to the gallon jars) sells pickles at $ 2.79 for half a gallon. However, there remains enormous waste. Fishman (2006) notes that the product itself a gallon jar of pickles was more of a brand builder/loss leader than anything else, a representation of how inexpensive a sense of "plenty" could be for Wal-Mart shoppers. However, most families cannot eat a whole gallon jar of pickles; most of them eventually find their way to the garbage. [...]

[...] Chambers [executive VP for benefits] suggests that Wal-Mart arrange for 'all jobs to include some physical activity (e.g., cashiers do some cart-gathering).'" (p. C1). The reporters noted that "46 percent of the children of Wal-Mart's 1.33 million United States employees were uninsured or on Medicaid." (p. C1). Essentially, the public subsidy for the poor is actually helping improve Wal-Mart's bottom line as well as helping the employees who qualify for Medicaid despite being employed by one of the world's largest firms. [...]

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