Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (A)
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is one of the classic stores in American business. This case, which focuses on the emergence and development of the firm between the mid-1960s and 1990, allows the student to derive a relatively clear understanding of how Sam Walton etal. Were able to grow the firm from a single location to one with 1,525 stores and $26 billion in sales.
This case has been very extensively employed, both at Thunderbird and elsewhere. The author has taught this case 40 or 50 times and it has been extensively used by other faculty as well. The general theme lying behind the case has to do with Developing Competitive Advantage in a Mature Market. As such, it allows the instructor and/or the class to clearly illustrate how the firm emerged as a world leader despite the allegedly saturated status of the mass retailing business in the United States at the time of its origin. Along the way, productive side trips can be taken into subjects such as industry analysis (Porter's Five Force Analysis), competitive advantage, sustainability versus contestability (of competitive advantage), and some of the concepts lying behind the general idea of core competence.