The Toxic Organizational Culture at Wal-Mart


The Toxic Organizational Culture at Wal-Mart


The Toxic Organizational Culture at Wal-Mart
Organizational culture is not a new concept in the world of organizational behavior. Yet despite its age, it still has many varied definitions as well as philosophies on its importance and impact to the success of a company. One definition is that organizational culture is a cognitive framework consisting of attitudes, values, behavioral norms, and expectations shared by members of an organization (Greenberg, 2013, p. 368). Greenberg (2013) further explains organizational culture through an analogy of a tree. Organizational culture are similar to the roots of a tree. Roots provide stability and nourishment for a tree in the same manner that culture provides these things for their organization. Another way to think about organizational culture is that it is the unseen and unobservable force that is always behind the tangible activities of an organization which can be observed and measured. (Gundykunst & Ting-Toomey, 1988). “Culture is to the organization what personality is to the individual – a hidden yet unifying theme that provides meaning, direction, and mobilization” (Kilman, Saxton, & Serpa, 1985). Large multinational corporations have a unique challenge in terms of creating a positive and strong organizational culture. Since the actual culture of the macroenvironment tends to play a factor on the personality of the company itself, it becomes increasingly difficult to have one central corporate culture as not all employees are the same. A perfect analogy to this would be a cohesive and successful work team. Their effectiveness and synergistic effects are based on the fact that they are small enough to have a personal connection and are able to figure out how to use each person’s skills in a complimentary manner. The larger the team becomes, the less cohesive they are because this close knit personal connection is lost. They begin to lose a sense

of their personality. A multinational corporation is like this in that the more they expand, the less sense of connection they have to their original roots and the foundations that created them. Background

Wal-Mart was originally founded by Sam Walton in 1962, with a history that dates beyond that through other names. They have always carried their same mission statement which is “We save people money so they can live better.” Wal-Mart is a multinational corporation with over 10,600 stores in 27 countries (Walmart, 2012). They are the largest employer in the world with 2.2 million employees and more than 1.4 million employees in the United States alone. It is estimated that 90% of all Americans live within fifteen minutes of a Wal-Mart (Statistic Brain, 2012). It has been named Fortune magazine’s number one company on their annual list of the 500 largest American companies seven times in the past decade. If Wal-Mart were a country it would be the 19th largest and have a population larger than 95 other countries in the World. These are just a few staggering statistics to show the magnitude of their global impact today. Issues

With all of their power and size, Wal-Mart is no stranger to controversy, so much so that they are a popular subject for both books and movies. One of the most current documentaries aimed at shedding negative light on the retail giant named Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices uses real life interviews of previous employees and small business owners in an attempt to convince viewers of their less than positive impact. Wild stories are constantly in the news about injustices and controversies concerning the company. In fact, one story several years back was that of an associate being trampled to death in a New York store during a crowd rush on “Black Friday”. TOXIC ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

They have been in the...

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Gundykunst, W., & Ting-Toomey, S. (1988). Culture and interpersonal communication. Newybury Park, CA: Sage.
Logan, J. (2012, December 10). Walmart 's fishy claim of 86 percent employee satisfaction. In These Times, Retrieved from
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Mitchell, T. R., & Larson, J. R. (1987). People in organizations: An introduction to organizational behavior. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
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