Essays on Short Background of Wal-Mart as a Company, Its Code of Ethics Case Study

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing

The paper "Short Background of Wal-Mart as a Company, Its Code of Ethics" is a perfect example of a business case study.   In January 2012, the life of a seventy-three-year-old Wal-Mart employee changed after she made a split-second reaction while at her job (Bhasin 2012). The woman had worked for Wal-Mart for twenty-two years. Three days after the January 2012 incident where a manager accused her of having violated the company policy, Wal-Mart fired her (Bhasin 2012). According to (Kim & Grunig 2011, p. 153), the three basic values that guide the culture of Wal-Mart include respect for individuals, service to customers and striving for excellence.

Employees, customers and other associates are encouraged to report any misconduct, indiscipline behaviour and, unfair treatment and other issues, including poor resolution of incidents or conflicts in the workplace. Wal-Mart, therefore, provides a prism of examining how unethical incidents and unfair treatment within its workplace are handled. Corporate communication is crucial for every corporation because it entails the function of communication of the corporation. Corporate communication involves aspects such as reputation management, public relations and issues management.

This paper gives a short background of Wal-Mart as a company, its code of ethics, analyses the incident of the seventy-three-year-old employee who lost her job and finally, analyses how the issue was handled in relation to management communication theories. The mention of the name Wal-Mart gives different pictures to different people. The people who have shopped there have felt the benefits of having to save a few dollars every time they shop (Kim & Grunig 2011, p. 153). The success of Wal-Mart is attributed to the vision of the founder of Wal-Mart, Sam Wal-Mart, who had a resilient work ethic and the ability to motivate his associates (Collins 2012, p.

123). This trademark characteristic shaped the culture of the company and its internal rhetoric. Customer satisfaction, hard work and associate appreciation are the values that have permeated the work environment of Wal-Mart for long. The case of Wal-Mart is however different today. The company has earned a reputation that is constantly under scrutiny. There have been various cases of Wal-Mart where it has paid billions of dollars to employees based in the United States of America in damages (O'Sullivan & Ngau, 2014, p.

234). Wal-Mart is also opposed to any form of collective action, including when employees are seeking a little more respect. The company has faced many scandals, including bribery issues (Shin & Duncan 2011, p. 1). According to (Geisler 2012, p. 56), two to eight percent of shoppers stopped shopping at Wal-Mart due to its negative press. One of the latest business incidents at Wal-Mart store is the case of the seventy-three-year-old Wal-Mart greeter who lost her job due to a split-second reaction.

The woman, called Jan Sullivan had worked for Wal-Mart for twenty-two years before she was fired in 2012 (Cox 2012, p. 1). According to Cox (2012, p. 1), while Sullivan was at her job station, a woman stated that she wanted to leave through the entrance door. After a brief disagreement, Sullivan states that the woman pushed her and since she thought that she was falling off, Sullivan reached out for support and clutched the woman’ s sweater (Bhasin 2012, p. 1). After gaining support, she let go and the woman stomped out.

Accused of having violated the company’ s policy, which states that under no circumstances are staff allowed to touch customers, Sullivan was fired three days after the incident. According to Wal-Mart representatives, Wal-Mart has over two million employees globally; therefore, strict policies have to be kept to keep the employees under control (Bhasin 2012, p. 1). The spokesperson stated that despite the intentions of Sullivan, her action of grabbing the sweater of a customer put her safety and the safety of the customer in jeopardy (Bhasin 2012, p.

1). According to the code of ethics of Wal-Mart, the spokesperson stated that they could not condone behaviours where “ associates take matters in their own hands” (Bhasin 2012, p. 1). This incidence raises the issue of when common sense overrides a company’ s policy, and how to solve workplace conflicts effectively considering the interests of both the company and the employee.


Abu-Nimer, M. (2012). Dialogue, conflict resolution, and change: Arab-Jewish encounters in Israel. SUNY Press.

Bhasin, K 2012, ‘This 73-year-old Wal-Mart Greeter’s Life Was Ruined by One Split-Second Reaction,’ Business Insider, retrieved online on 17 July 17, 2014

Cahn, D. D. (Ed.). (2013). Intimates in conflict: A communication perspective. Routledge.

Collins, D. (2012). Business Ethics. John Wiley & Sons.

Cox, JW 2012, Black Friday ruckus, firing changes 73-year-old Wal-Mart greeter’s life,’ Tampa bay Times, viewed online on 17 July 2014

de Wit, F. R., Greer, L. L., & Jehn, K. A. (2012). The paradox of intragroup conflict: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(2), 360.

Deutsch, M., Coleman, P. T., & Marcus, E. C. (Eds.). (2011). The handbook of conflict resolution: Theory and practice. John Wiley & Sons.

Dozier, D. M., Grunig, L. A., & Grunig, J. E. (2013). Manager's guide to excellence in public relations and communication management. Routledge.

Furlong, G. T. (2010). The conflict resolution toolbox: Models and maps for analyzing, diagnosing, and resolving conflict. John Wiley & Sons.

Geisler, M. (2012). International Marketing and Walmart’s Missed Opportunity (Doctoral dissertation, University of Arkansas).

Keashly, L., Nowell, B. L., Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C. (2011). Conflict, conflict resolution, and bullying. Bullying and harassment in the workplace developments in theory, research and practice, 423-445.

Kim, J. N., & Grunig, J. E. (2011). Problem solving and communicative action: A situational theory of problem solving. Journal of Communication, 61(1), 120-149.

McCombs, M. E., Shaw, D. L., & Weaver, D. H. (Eds.). (2013). Communication and democracy: Exploring the intellectual frontiers in agenda-setting theory. Routledge.

Mossanen, M., Johnston, S. S., Green, J., & Joyner, B. D. (2014). A Practical Approach to Conflict Management for Program Directors. Journal of graduate medical education, 6(2), 345-346.

O'Sullivan, P., & Ngau, O. (2014). Whistleblowing: a critical philosophical analysis of the component moral decisions of the act and some new perspectives on its moral significance. Business Ethics: A European Review.

Rahim, M. A. (2011). Managing conflict in organizations. Transaction Publishers.

Ramsbotham, O., Miall, H., & Woodhouse, T. (2011). Contemporary conflict resolution. Polity.

Shin, Y., & Duncan, M. (2011). What are the costs that follow Wal-Mart’s motto:" Always low prices"?.

Singh, H. P., Jindal, S., & Samim, S. A. (2011). Business Ethics: Relevance, Influence, Issues and Practices in International Business Scenario. Special Issue of the International Journal of the Computer, the Internet and Management, 19(1), 1-5.

Slaikeu, K. A., & Hasson, R. H. (2012). Controlling the costs of conflict: How to design a system for your organization. John Wiley & Sons.

Ting-Toomey, S., & Chung, L. C. (2012). Understanding intercultural communication. New York: Oxford University Press.

Whelan, C. J., & Ziv, N. (2013). Law Firm Ethics in the Shadow of Corporate SocialResponsibility. Geo. J. Legal Ethics, 26, 153.

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
Contact Us