The goal of the Wal-Mart sustainability case project is to develop teaching cases and notes that lead students through an in-depth analysis of Wal-Mart’s efforts to develop and implement an ambitious corporate sustainability strategy. To accomplish this task, professors from the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, and the Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas, collaborated to write a series of cases that explores Wal-Mart’s sustainability journey from different positions and perspectives. The authors drew on 30 interviews, 25 of which were with current or former employees of Wal-Mart, in developing the case series. They also drew on public information. In each case, the respective authors have sought to present a factual accounting. The cases and their links are presented below, categorized according to whether they have been reviewed by Wal-Mart or not.
These cases are not designed to provide a comprehensive examination of the full set of issues that Wal-Mart has encountered during its ongoing sustainability journey. In choosing these cases, we have attempted to identify specific decision points pertaining to the company’s sustainability efforts that can lead to engaged, thoughtful classroom discussions of the opportunities and challenges involved in designing and implementing a wide-ranging corporate sustainability strategy.
The cases are designed to be taught alone or as a series, but there are distinct advantages to teaching them as a series. Doing so allows instructors and students to examine recurring issues and questions across positions, tasks and time, including different levels of the organization (CEO, sustainability director, functional managers), strategic decision-making stages (vision, strategy, implementation, measurement) and periods (from vision to implementation and back again).
The first set of cases is based primarily on interviews with employees of Wal-Mart and has been reviewed by Wal-Mart for factual accuracy. However, this review does not constitute an endorsement of the cases or their completeness.
- Lee Scott’s Founding Vision [pdf]
- Andy Ruben and the Design of Organizational Structures and Systems (A) [pdf]
- Andy Ruben and the Design of Organizational Structures and Systems (B) [pdf]
- Peter Redmond and the Search for Sustainable Seafood (mini-case) [pdf]
- Bottled Water Logistics and Forecasting [pdf]
- Defining Sustainable Products (A) [pdf]
- Defining Sustainable Products (B) [pdf]
- Walmart’s Sustainability Journey: Elizabeth Fretheim and the Search for Sustainable Trucking [pdf]
- Walmart’s Emergent Low-Cost Sustainable Product Strategy
The second set of cases is based primarily on public information and has not been reviewed by Wal-Mart for factual accuracy.
- Consumers and Sustainability at Walmart: A Student’s Perspective [pdf]
- Bottled Water (mini-case) [pdf]
The authors thank the two schools, including the CIBER at the University of South Carolina and the Supply Chain Management Research Center and the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas, for their support of this project.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
© 2017 Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas and the University of South Carolina