Identify and analyze some aspect of how Walmart does business.

Identify and analyze some aspect of how Walmart does business.

Identify and analyze some aspect of how Walmart does business. In what way is this policy of, or behavior by, Walmart a serious problem, or a step forward or backward in modern retail (and maybe manufacturing) business, or in some other way a matter of interest or concern to anyone? Is Walmart a symptom of a healthy economy? What else should the Walmart story tell us?

How to do this assignment:

Spend enough time with Fishman’s book – including the final chapter — to feel confident that you’ve really absorbed and understood some main theme he is discussing. These themes include things like Walmart’s (and many other companies’) downward pressure on suppliers and on employees to deliver the most product/service at the least cost; Walmart’s desire for “control” (whatever that really means); the sometimes shifting relationship between actual need and the propensity to consume; etc.

Read the supplementary articles about Walmart that are on the course site. Be sure you don’t miss Dan Halpern’s Harpers’s article “Citizen Walmart.” Think about the Walmart video, Penn and Teller’s take on it, short assignment #4, class discussions and anything else that gets your attention regarding Walmart. Pick a topic that interests you. See below for more specific suggestions, if you want them.

For the actual paper:

Write a strong introduction, identifying your topic (not just “some effects of Wal-Mart on the world’s economy,” but something more specific) and making an observation about it.

You do not have to deliver a strong opinion of your own about Wal-Mart, but you certainly may, especially if it is based on more than your own feelings or intuitions.
Avoid making overly simple judgments or other statements about it. But, as noted above, do make some interesting observation about it; tell your reader something about Wal-Mart that has really caught your attention. (If nothing has caught your attention, keep swimming around for a while, and if that doesn’t work, email me.)

Feel free to describe anecdotal evidence, but balance anecdotes with actual numbers, with reference to large-scale general patterns of behavior. (Do NOT include a summary of the Vlasic pickle story; your instructor has read it in too many papers already!)

Include references to at least two other outside sources, not counting the sources on the course site, properly identified and cited.

Write a conclusion that (a) does not just repeat what you’ve already said and (b) does not introduce a new topic.

Specific ways to focus the paper (you may take any one of these as the assignment, or adapt any of them to what you are writing):

Explain a problem for which Wal-Mart may be held responsible: environmental damage, unfair or oppressive labor practices (discrimination against female employees, forcing ‘associates’ to work off the clock, etc.), the disappearance of locally owned retailers and of smaller chain stores, reduced quality of products (jeans, lawn sprinklers, etc.), destruction of community tax bases by securing subsidies from public funds for new Wal-Mart stores, loss of U.S. jobs to overseas manufacturing centers, public safety concerns, ugly architecture, etc. What are some specific, documented examples of the problem? What public action, if any, has addressed the problem? What has Wal-Mart itself done in response to accusations about the problem? How does the future look? (And by the way, can a large competitive company ever afford to act in a socially responsible way without first being caught engaged in socially irresponsible behavior?That’s such a good question that you may find you can actually spend your whole paper on it.)

In a section of his book on safety standards as an eventual result of interaction between the market economy and government regulation, Charles Fishman writes, “In this sense, Wal-Mart is a problem, but it’s also an opportunity” (242). Walmart’s executives would probably like the public to think of the company as offering opportunities of many sorts. What opportunities does Walmart present? Can we find any evidence that the company really is creating good opportunities – and for whom?

With its huge size, its corporate structure, its policies, its ways of adapting to market demands, its ability to appeal to so many shoppers, is Walmart a model for the future in general? What influence might Walmart have, for example, on education in the United States? On energy conservation/consumption? On international trade? Walmart runs pharmacies. Are there bank branches in Walmart? Could Walmart sell insurance? SAT preparation? Cars? (Costco does.) Concert tickets? Really, really good cappuccino and ice cream?

For sources of information, look at (the Wal-Mart Web site). You’ll find articles and other information about Wal-Mart’s “green” programs, its avowed interest in insurance for its employees, its rebuttals of the film “Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price,” and many other subjects. Also, in contrast, look at the Web site of Wal-Mart Watch, an organization constantly critical of the company and its practices. The Wall Street Journal has published a nearly uncountable number of articles about, or referring to, Wal-Mart. And you can find many other sources.

About 5 pages.

Solution preview for the order on identify and analyze some aspect of how Walmart does business.Identify and analyze some aspect of how Walmart does business.


1338 words