The Good and Bad of Wal-Mart's Culture|Human Resource|Organization Behavior|Case Study|Case Studies

The Good and Bad of Wal-Mart's Culture

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB037
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 1943 - 2003
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Wal-Mart
Industry : Retailing
Countries : USA

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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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Excerpts Contd...

The Darker Side of Walmart's Culture

In spite of being generally applauded for its culture, Wal-Mart was also severely criticized for certain aspects of its culture.

Overtime Woes

Although Wal-Mart had a very strict policy on overtime and the company's rules forbade it, it was observed that, at most of the stores, employees worked between 5 and 15 hours overtime per week. (The company had a 40 hour work week). Since the company was very strict about not allowing overtime (there were instances where store managers who paid overtime were demoted and in cases, even dismissed), it was usually done on an unofficial basis.

Human Resource and Organization Behavior | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies

Since overtime was not allowed, store managers often asked workers to clock out after their shift was over and then continue working. Sometimes workers were put to work as soon as they came to the stores at the start of the shift, even before they could clock in.

This way, employees sometimes worked a couple of hours before they clocked in. One employee recollected an instance when she had worked for 3 hours in a store before she officially clocked in.

Another tactic employed was to lock the doors of the store at the end of a shift (ostensibly to prevent theft) to prevent employees from leaving at the scheduled time. This often enraged employees as well as their families and created a poor image of Wal-Mart.

Sometimes the time cards were also edited by the people in charge of payroll to show that employees worked only 40 hours per week. When people clocked in more than 40 hours the additional hours were deleted from the records. This was a regular practice at the stores to control the expenditure on salaries...

Towards a Better Walmart

The problem with Wal-Mart was that, as the largest company in the world, it had three times the number of employees that the second largest company behind it had. Analysts felt that the size of the company itself suggested that the scope of problems was likely to be higher. It was not practically possible for the headquarters or the top management to keep track of everything going on at the store level. Therefore, some stores deviated considerably from the corporate principles.

In view of the flak it received, Wal-Mart began some change programs in its stores. It developed a posting system for all management jobs so that all the employees could be informed about them and be given the chance to apply for promotions...


Exhibit I: The Walmart Cheer
Exhibit II: Sam Walton's Ten Rules for Building a Business
Exhibit III: Annual Financials
Exhibit IV: Number of International Stores at the End of Fiscal 2003
Exhibit V: Recent Awards and Recognition


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