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From Sweatshops to Sustainability: Wal-Mart's Journey in Bangladesh

From Sweatshops to Sustainability: Wal-Mart's Journey in Bangladesh
Case Code: SUST021
Case Length: 21 pages
Period: 2011 - 2014
Pub Date: 2015
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.600
Organization: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Industry: Garment Manufacturing
Countries: Bangladesh
Themes: Corporate Responsibility, Environmental Sustainability
From Sweatshops to Sustainability: Wal-Mart's Journey in Bangladesh
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts

Abstract

Walmart the largest company in the world by revenues as of 2014, operated on the philosophy of providing its consumers products at the lowest possible price. To achieve this, it procured goods from various parts of the world. The clothes were mostly procured from Bangladesh. Walmart and other global retailers were attracted to Bangladesh due to cheap labor and low production costs. They usually outsourced their production to some of the factories in the country. At that time they ensured that the producer and the factory complied with laws and have other facilities in place for workers, pertaining to timings, leave, overtime, etc...

Issues

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Learn about the garment industry that exists in Bangladesh from where global apparel brands import the products; the poor working conditions in the sweatshops and the complex subcontracting system that exists, which exposes millions of workers to life threatening accidents
  • Understand the business model of Walmart and how the company projected itself as a sustainable company through various sustainability initiatives
  • Examine strategic CSR / Sustainability: How and why companies such as Walmart are increasingly addressing their social and environmental impacts at a core strategic and operational level
  • Understand the challenges for Walmart in playing a major role in resolving the deep rooted problems of the garment industry in Bangladesh
  • Consider the complexities involved in being a responsible corporate citizen while remaining accountable to the shareholders
  • Assess the ability of large multinational companies to dictate government / state policies in developing countries
  • Discuss what Walmart could have done differently if it did indeed do anything unethical in Bangladesh and what it should do now

Contents

Keywords

WalMart, Bangladesh, Tazreen, Rana Plaza, Business Environment, Sweatshops, Business Ethics, MNCs, Developing Countries, Social Responsibility, Human Rights, Readymade Garment Industry

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