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"The goal of the Walmart sustainability case project is to lead students through an in-depth analysis of Walmart's journey of formulating, implementing and measuring an ambitious corporate sustainability strategy. Because we have written multiple, interconnecting teaching cases, we are able to have students look across organizational levels and across time to evaluate and learn from Walmart's experience," said Andrew Spicer, an associate professor at USC's Darla Moore School of Business.
Spicer led the Walmart Sustainabilty Case Project with David Hyatt, a clinical assistant professor in the Sam Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. Their collaboration has resulted in seven case studies that provide an in-depth analysis of Walmart's effort to develop and implement its sustainability goals of creating zero waste, being supplied by 100-percent renewable energy and selling sustainable products.
The cases can be accessed for free on the project website.
For the project, the researchers conducted more than 30 interviews, including 25 with current and former Walmart executives and employees to get a variety of perspectives on how the giant retail company is carrying out the strategy through its businesses practices and products. In doing so, Spicer and Hyatt have examined what the company has accomplished, what has worked and what hasn't.
At the center of each case are questions that address sustainability at a societal, organizational and individual level. These include questions such as: Who in society should set standards for sustainability - government, consumers, scientists or companies? Who in an organization should make decisions about strategy, and how should success be measured and communicated? By what criteria should individuals make their own decisions about sustainability in their roles as leaders, employees and consumers?
"These cases aren't meant to be a full examination of all the issues that Walmart has faced in its on-going sustainability journey," Spicer said. "We chose these cases to identify those key decision points in Walmart's efforts that would lead to insightful and thoughtful discussions about the opportunities and challenges of designing and implementing a corporate sustainability strategy."
Spicer said plans call for adding more cases and materials to the website to help professors further enhance their teaching about the relationship between business and sustainability.
Spicer will teach the full case series this spring in a course on corporate sustainability in the Moore School's International MBA (IMBA) program.
The cases can be accessed by clicking here.
Source: University of South Carolina
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