Wal-Mart: Shaping the Organizational Culture

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : HROA011 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Organizational Culture
Case Length : 12 pages
Period : 1962 - 2004
Pub Date : 2005
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Wal-Mart
Industry : Retailing
Countries : USA


The $256.3 billion Wal-Mart, the world's largest company, has more than 1.3 million associates worldwide and nearly 5,000 stores and wholesale clubs across 10 countries. Wal-Mart's unique culture has been shaped by the founder, Sam Walton. Sam believed that the secret of successful retailing was to give customers what they wanted. He devised a set of simple rules like 'three basic beliefs', 'ten foot rule', and 'the sundown rule' to guide the organisation's culture. Walton was passionate about keeping the costs of the business as low as possible. He believed that technology would distance the employees from customers. He considered unions to be a threat as they would only increase his costs.

Since Walton's death, Wal-Mart has grown into a large, high profile enterprise that has found it difficult to stay away from the glare of the media. Walton's successors have been spending a substantial portion of their time on strengthening the enablers of the culture, rather than on trying to spread the culture themselves. At the same time, the senior managers are striving hard to keep the founder's core values alive in the company. The case discusses Wal-Mart's efforts to stick to its core values in the face of spectacular growth.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Sam Walton 1
Wal-Mart after Walton 3
The Road Ahead 4
Exhibits 6

Key Words:

Wal-Mart, Largest retail chain, Sam Walton, Wal-Mart culture, Wal-Mart's three basic beliefs, Ten foot rule, Tim Coughlin, Successors of Walton, United Food and Commercial Workers

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