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ACTION MEMORANDUM

 

From:
To:
Subject: Walmart Sustainability Strategy
Date: 09/30/2013

 

1. Present the arguments in favor of OR against Wal-Mart creating full-time positions that are solely dedicated to sustainability. 
I am in support of Wal-Mart creating its own internal full-time positions that are specifically dedicated to sustainability. Sustainability is a harmonizing of our planet’s biosphere, human society, and the economy. The focus of sustainability is the continued co-existence of all in a beneficial manner for generations to come. The new concept is the harmonious co-existence between all stakeholders (community, suppliers, customers, and shareholders among others). The Brundtland Commission stated that sustainability is, “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In addition, the leadership of Wal-Mart believes that sustainability result to better business prospects and success in the long term. It is not a charity mission but a form of competitive advantage.
The current vision and mission is shallow in regard to sustainability and hence this should be the first step before assimilating it into core values (Gunther, 2006).  Assignment of permanent positions will enhance long-term focus on sustainability. This will facilitate institutionalization of concepts and policies and ensure continuity. The case of Wal-Mart is a good example as to why full-time positions are necessary. In the case study, Wal-Mart relied largely on skills and enthusiasm of individuals which in the end resulted to reorganizations and changes whenever the individuals left their positions. Full time dedications will harness institutionalization of such positions and functions. From the case analysis, Wal-Mart image has improved since 2005 when it started pursuing sustainability program an indication of the public approval in its current direction on the matter. Although Wal-Mart is yet to fully realize benefits of its programs, the company is on the path to that end and any measures to institutionalize sustainability should be supported for the good of all.
Argument in support of OR against Wal-Mart’s new full-time sustainability team pursuing an organization-wide
Sustainability is becoming an important ingredient to doing business in all industries. Achieving sustainability is not a one player function and in this sense requires support of all both inside the company and partner network and any other stakeholders who participate in resource management (Lubin & Esty, 2010). The company need synergy and support from its internal structures and this is extended through a seamless integration with external networks. For example, all employees play important role in maintaining quality of services and responding to quarries and needs of customers. They are the link that harness intelligence and formulate ideas to meet emerging need. Customers have show interest and given positive approvals for companies pursuing sustainability programs hence a good link between employees and customers will enhance these endeavors (Pfeffer, 2010).
The core business for Wal-Mart is to merchandise household products and service at the most competitive prices. It is involved in the merchandise of finished goods or products. Pursuing a company wide sustainability program will ensure that the partner network is supported with an internal mechanism that is necessary to help such partners in understanding, training and guiding existing and new partners (Vandenbergh, 2007). For example, finished merchandise must be stored before they are purchased by customer and also many Wal-Mart outlets functions use energy. Hence energy is an important element in sustainability programs and failure to pursue organization wide game changer programs will mean failure to achieve full potential of sustainability. There are many functions within the organization that comprise elements of sustainability such as packaging, promotion materials, and energy use among others.
Carbon emission is a major concern for many industries. Wal-Mart initiative is a welcome by proponents and need to be supported. Wal-Mart functions within a huge network of stakeholders (Vandenbergh, 2007). The company has built a good reputation in its current sustainability program and plays a good role model figure. The company has also a strong influential position among individuals and organizations. Wal-Mart has the necessary skills, expertise and motivation to take such a responsibility. It has the infrastructure, knowledge, and foundation to participate in a nationwide drive in carbon emission exercise. A nationwide collaborative effort in addressing carbon emission will provide Wal-Mart with necessary synergy for long term goals. The disadvantage of the program is the distraction from its core business and political ramification for such initiatives. Wal-Mart can pursue own internal organizational sustainability programs while working with a third-party for synergy and support. This way, the company can begin making strides major towards achieving sustainability by addressing these fundamental issues. By complying and handling these fundamental issues Wal-Mart will become not only the world’s largest retailer but the world’s largest company interested in fixing the global economy and sustainability. By Wal-Mart setting a good example other companies will soon follow changing their old environmental practices into new cleaner, biosphere friendly sustainable developments.
Assess the pros and cons of Wal-Mart’s size as a factor in implementing sustainable initiatives and it’s applicability to mid- and small-sized companies in the manufacturing and service industry
Wal-Mart has the economies of scale to pursue many elements of sustainability. Its size provides a base for competitive advantage especially in resource mobilization, and building networks. The global network of stores and factories is strong bases that can help the company identify improvements and ideas in sustainability program. The strong network can influence smaller companies which would follow them and extend ripple effects. Wal-Mart can influence domino effect in which it influences companies and those companies in turn influence their companies (Vandenbergh, 2007). Its foundation can pursue programs and support smaller companies seeking sustainability guidelines and starting such initiatives. Wal-Mart has gradually transformed from the previous form where it faced many environmental and health regulations challenges. This transition can be used a classic case study for smaller companies that are facing similar challenges. The company can also use its outreach programs to assist any companies that need assistance in sustainability. Disadvantages could be in managing to solicit enough resources to pursue this initiative. The scale of operation may also be a hindering factor since what may seem as a small resource at Wal-Mart may be an entire budget for smaller companies. Regulations in the different markets may also slow progress of support to smaller companies.

References
Gunther, M. (2006). The green machine. Fortune Magazine, 154, 42-57.
Lubin, D. A., & Esty, D. C. (2010). The sustainability imperative. Harvard Business Review,
88(5), 42-50.
Pfeffer, J. (2010). Building sustainable organizations: The human factor. The Academy of
Management Perspectives, 24(1), 34-45.
Vandenbergh, M. (2007). The new Wal-Mart effect: the role of private contracting in global
governance.

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