The Wal-Mart Effect and a Decent Society: Who Knew Shopping Was So Important?

Fishman, Charles
August 2006
Academy of Management Perspectives;Aug2006, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p6
Academic Journal
The phrase "The Wal-Mart Effect" has made its way into the culture as a shorthand for the range of effects resulting from Wal-Mart's way of doing business. A megacorporation with sales that consistently rank it as the number-one or number-two publicly traded company in the United States and in the world, Wal-Mart has impacted wage rates, prices, and economies on a local, national, and global scale. It is arguably the world's most important privately controlled economic institution. It not only has no rivals, it actually influences the prices set by its suppliers and has often seemed impervious to challenge, let alone accountability. Many of the most basic and most urgent questions about Wal-Mart, those at the core of a public debate over the "Wal-Mart Effect," go unanswered. Wal-Mart's own 40-year history of absolute secrecy, including forbidding its suppliers to talk about their relationship with Wal-Mart, has only deepened the mystery of its impact. Answering the questions is vital--not just to understand the impact of Wal-Mart but to understand the behavior and impact of all kinds of megacorporations emerging in the global economy.


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