Wal-Mart in 2004: Creating a New Image

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTA111
Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1962 - 2004
Organization : Wal-Mart
Pub Date : 2005
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : USA
Industry: Retail ing

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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.

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In Sam Walton's (Walton) time, Wal-Mart was relatively small, there were few stores, few employees, and few customers. There were not many complaints from outsiders. Managing external relations had been relatively uncomplicated. But over time, Wal-Mart's operations became large in scale and scope.

The retailer started attracting media and public attention. After Walton's death, the new management realized the need for a proactive approach to managing relations with external stakeholders. This marked a break with the past when the company had preferred to maintain a low profile.


Walton had projected the company as too small and inconsequential for outsiders to bother about. The little outfit in Bentonville enjoyed a favourable image with the media and Wall Street. But things changed after Walton's death in the spring of 1992. No longer did the media feel compelled to rally around Wal-Mart and keep writing only positive stories.

Criticism began to mount that Wal-Mart was contributing to urban sprawl and destroying the basis of small communities. Media attention was drawn to the power that Wal-Mart allegedly had to force the small mom-and pop stores of local communities to close once the gaint retailer arrived in town...

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