Decency Means More than "Always Low Prices": A Comparison of Costco to Wal-Mart's Sam's Club

Cascio, Wayne F.
August 2006
Academy of Management Perspectives;Aug2006, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p26
Academic Journal
Wal-Mart's emphasis on "Always low prices. Always" has made it the largest retail operation in history. However, this unrelenting mission has also created a way of doing business that draws substantial criticism regarding the company's employment practices, relationships with suppliers, and the company's impact on local economies. This paper focuses on a company that delivers low prices to consumers, but in a fundamentally different way than its competitor, Wal-Mart. That company is warehouse-retailer Costco. In the following sections we will begin by providing some background on the company, including its history, its business model, its ethical principles, core beliefs, and values. Then we will consider some typical Wall Street analysts' assessments of this approach, followed by a systematic comparison of the financial performance of Costco with that of Sam's Club, a warehouse retailer that is part of Wal-Mart.


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