Essays on Stakeholder Management at Wal-Mart Case Study

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The paper "Stakeholder Management at Wal-Mart" is a perfect example of a management case study.   Stakeholder engagement is a common term in organizational management. When broken down to the component words, stakeholder refers to any entity or individual who is potentially affected by a project or who can influence the outcomes of a project (Zwikael & Smyrk, p. 112). As a whole, stakeholder engagement refers to the involvement of entities impacted by the projector with an impact on a project in the decision making both as a management strategy and as an ethical requirement (Maak 2007).

Zwikael & Smyrk (2011, p. 114) thus define stakeholder engagement as “ programs that seek to involve stakeholders in ways that increase a project’ s attractiveness, not only to them but ultimately to the funder. ” Freeman (2010) claims that for organizations to create and sustain value, they must engage stakeholders drawing in all the affected parties and not just the major ones. Freeman (p. 25) also conceptualizes stakeholders as part of the external business environment. Zwikael and Smyrk (p. 114) capture the importance of stakeholder engagement by saying that organizations can no longer choose whether to engage with stakeholders or not: the only decision they need to make is how to successfully engage stakeholders.

The authors add that meaningful stakeholder engagement occurs when organizations, aware of their interactions with the society, choose to establish relations with stakeholders as a means of managing those interactions. Through stakeholder engagement, organizations can either choose to identify new opportunities or mitigate risks (Zwikael & Smyrk, p. 113). Purpose, Audience, and Choice of the Topic This report provides an appraisal of Wal-Mart’ s stakeholder engagement process.

This report is not necessarily meant for use as a basis for implementing policies but will contribute to the understanding of the concept of stakeholder engagement. Organization Background Wal-Mart is a private retailer based in the United States. The company offers a wide range of retail products and services from food and clothing to car tires and pharmacy prescriptions. Wal-Mart has thousands of stores across the world, which together with high profits has made it the largest retailer in the world (Hayden et al 2002). The company is unique in that it has successfully managed to take advantage of economic globalization to put the interests of stakeholders above all other business interests. An Outline of Wal-Mart’ s Stakeholder Engagement Approach Ever since its inception, Wal-Mart has sought to have a proactive and open relationship with its stakeholders including employees, customers, supplies, and the government.

At Wal-Mart, good stakeholder relationships are fundamental to the company’ s core business. These relationships have been evolving to meet the changing needs of different stakeholder groups (Wal-Mart 2012). When Wal-Mart began a global expansion program in the 1970s, it launched an innovative stakeholder engagement program in which the company’ s staff proactively engages stakeholders on the delivery of essential services (Hayden et al 2002).

Wal-Mart’ s successful proactive stakeholder engagement has led to a number of partnerships that have benefitted the local communities including contribution to charity organizations. Moreover, Wal-Mart has established key engagement plans for NGO stakeholders, customers, suppliers, academic leaders, investors, and the media (Wal-Mart 2012). As a result of these engagements, Wal-Mart has successfully improved its service delivery and grown dramatically to dominate the global retail industry. The development of meaningful relations with stakeholders has added value to Wal-Mart’ s business operations by reducing business constraints; allowing the company to plan for the future; enhancing opportunities and minimizing risks and allowing the company to understand critics and respond to criticism (Hayden et al 2002).

Additionally, Wal-Mart’ s stakeholder engagement approach has enabled the organization to assure stakeholders that they are on top of issues and essential for solving key business problems (Wal-Mart 2012).


Freeman, R 2010, Strategic management: a stakeholder approach, Cambridge University Press, London.

Hayden, H, Seung, L., Kate, M & Mike, P 2002, Wal-Mart: Staying on top of the fortune 500, viewed 30th Oct. 2012 from,

Jeffrey, N 2009, Stakeholder engagement: A road map to meaningful engagement. #2 in the Doughty Centre ‘How to do Corporate Responsibility’ Series, Doughty Centre, Cranfield School of Management.

Maak, T 2007, ‘Responsible leadership, stakeholder engagement, and the emergence of social capital’, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 74, no. 4, pp. 329–343

Macdonald, T. 2008, Global stakeholder democracy: power and representation beyond liberal states: power and representation beyond liberal states, Oxford University Press, London.

Wal-Mart 2012, Stakeholder engagement. Viewed 30th Oct. 2012, 2012 from,

Zwikael, O and Smyrk, J 2011, Project management for the creation of organizational value. Springer, London.

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